Dating back to 1926, the historic Route 66 led travelers across the country from one exciting destination to the next. While the actual highway no longer exists, various roadside attractions with remnants of the Mother Road have withstood the test of time to create a fun and exciting road trip experience.
While this highway takes you through some of the biggest cities in the midwest like Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri, try some of these unique pit stops instead. Here are ten must-see Route 66 attractions.
1. Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas
Driving through West Texas, Cadillac Ranch is one of those "can't miss" experiences. The genuinely unique art exhibit has various old cars nose deep in the dirt covered in graffiti art. First created as an art installation by a group of hippies in 1974, it has remained a constant tourist attraction in Amarillo.
2. Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, California
The famous Santa Monica pier partnered with the Route 66 Alliance in 2009 to make an unofficial end to the famous highway with this sign. The pier is full of fun activities from restaurants, including Bubba Gump. Don't forget all of the games included in the arcade as well as the ferris wheel. You also can't beat the view since you're right on the ocean.
3. Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona
First built in the 1930s, the Wigwam Motel, also known as Wigwam Village, is comprised of concrete replicas of Indian Teepees. These unique structures will give you a fun experience when looking for somewhere to stay the night on the historic highway. It's one of the few remaining Wigwam Villages in the country and would give you a chance for some really cool photos of your stay.
4. Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma
First built in the 1970s by Hugh Davis, whose wife collected whale figurines, this waterfront whale is now one of the most recognizable roadside attractions on Route 66. Back in its heyday, the pond surrounding the whale was open to the public, so Davis added sand and picnic tables to create a whole experience. Following his death, the neighborhood rejuvenated the area as a historic landmark along the highway.
5. Tucumcari, New Mexico
After checking out the landmark neon sign in Albuquerque, stop in this tiny town just under three hours away. Try staying the night in the Blue Swallow Motel and stop by the New Mexico Historic Route 66 Museum. This iconic town in Eastern New Mexico is home to remnants of the past and cute gift shops full of souvenirs and lots of photo ops.
6. Meramec Caverns in Stanton, Missouri
Take a tour of the Meramec Caverns in the Ozarks of Missouri, which has been a tourist attraction since 1933. Legends have said that the caves at one point were a hideout of outlaw Jesse James and his gang. One of the oldest stops on Route 66, these caverns are genuinely stunning.
7. 'Cars on the Route' in Galena, Kansas
Did you know that in this tiny Kansas town, an old rehabilitated Kan-O-Tex service station has lifesize replicas of the cars from the popular Pixar movie Cars? Grab a sandwich from the snack bar, and learn a little more about the town's history as well as cool info on the fictional Radiator Springs from the movie.
8. Seligman, Arizona
This historic town is just over 6 square miles and was founded all the way back in 1895. Over the years, the town has retained its historic buildings and charm giving visitors multiple photo opportunities during their stop. Make sure to stop at the Delgadillos Snow Cap Drive-in for a bite to eat and visit The Rusty Bolt, a gift store full of Americana charm.
9. Standin' on The Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona
After the Eagles sang "standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona" in their 1977 song "Take it Easy," this little town in Arizona became a destination on Route 66 over the years. In 1988 the town put together this little corner for photo ops, complete with a Route 66 marker and a statue of a guy with a guitar. Thousands of people travel each year to get a picture on the corner, so why not stop on your own road trip?
10. Lucille's Historic Highway Gas Station in Hydro, Oklahoma
This gas station is the original structure, built all the way back in 1927 and operated by Lucille Hamons until her death in 2000. After being restored by a Route 66 fan, Lucille's Roadhouse was opened down the road so you can grab a bite to eat after refilling on gas. The station now gives you a bit of history on traveling the highway years ago as well as the Hamons family who ran the station for years and how Lucille became well known over the years for her hospitality to travelers.