One of the best options for a road trip across America is Historic Route 66, one of the most famous roads in the world. The road spans over 2,400 miles and travels through 8 states, beginning with Illinois and ending at the Pacific Coast in California. When it comes to driving in America, Historic Route 66 has some of the best stops and most interesting things to do and see. Take a look at this itinerary for driving in America to plan your fun road trip.
Understand: Things to know to plan the road trip
Historic Route 66 is a highway that runs southwesterly across the country. For most people, a trip along Route 66 is an experience of history and nostalgia. The original starting point from 1926 was at Jackson Boulevard and Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. From there, Route 66 runs to 7th and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, passing through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. With the cold weather in the Midwest in winter, the best time to drive in America is between May and September. If you’re wondering how long your American road trip will take, it depends on whether you drive the historical route and stop at the main attractions; that route will take you about 2 weeks. For what to take on a road trip, be sure you have maps, extra water, both warm- and cool-weather clothing, a roadside emergency kit, and a first-aid kit. You should also have your car checked before leaving to avoid any breakdowns.
Illinois to Kansas
Your road trip in America starts in Chicago, one of the country’s major cities. You’ll drive through Illinois for several hundred miles to reach St. Louis, Missouri, which is home to some of Route 66’s vintage hotels and motels along the highway, such as the Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven. You’ll then travel to Springfield, where you can check out the attractions like Union Station or the City Museum. Along the way in the city of Cuba, you can see the Route 66 Red Rocker, which was formerly known as the World’s Largest Rocking Chair. You can book a hotel in Springfield for the night to rest for the next day’s trip through Kansas and into Oklahoma. You should be able to complete the Kansas part of the road trip in just over 13 miles, unless you take a detour to see local attractions.
Oklahoma to Texas
Oklahoma has some of the best stops on Route 66, including the Sidewalk Highway between Miami and Afton. The Sidewalk Highway is a 3-mile stretch of roadbed from 1922 that predates the historic highway. From there, you can travel to see the Andy Payne statue in Foyil before continuing onward to Tulsa and checking into a Tulsa hotel for the night. In the morning, you’ll start on the trip to Oklahoma City, which is home to attractions like the Gold Dome Building, the Oklahoma City Zoo, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, which celebrates the history and culture of the American West. Oklahoma City has plenty of restaurants with southwestern fare, such as Ann’s Chicken Fry Steakhouse, a vintage Route 66-themed diner. From there, you’ll travel across the Texas state line to McLean, a charming western town with attractions like Pony Bridge.
Texas to New Mexico
In Texas, you’ll find some of the best stops on a vintage road trip, such as the Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean, as well as excellent dining options like the Red River Steakhouse. When you reach Amarillo, you can bed down for the night in a historic Amarillo hotel. While you’re there, be sure to stop at Amarillo’s historic district to eat at a quaint western restaurant and check out the Old West architecture. If you’re wondering what is the best place to visit in America, the drive out of Amarillo is high on the list for historic Route 66 attractions, such as Cadillac Ranch to the west on the way to New Mexico. Once you cross the state line, you can head to Tucumcari to see street murals and find a historic hotel in New Mexico for the night to rest for how many miles you’ll be driving on the tail end of your road trip in America.
New Mexico to Arizona
From Tucumcari, you can take the historic route alignment to Santa Fe to check out the historic La Fonda hotel and dine in charming local restaurants like Santa Fe Bite. Santa Fe has an array of other attractions as well, such as the Palace of the Governors, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and the Museum of International Folk Art. As you travel from Santa Fe to Taos, you’ll be driving in a stunning area filled with historic villages for over 80 miles. You can stop along the way to see the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and Earthship Biotecture, a large off-the-grid community. You can stay in Taos for the night in a hotel like the Historic Taos Inn or the Kachina Lodge. In the morning, you’ll head out to Albuquerque and on to Winslow, which is home to the historic El Rancho Hotel before the border of Arizona.
Arizona to California
What to see on a Route 66 road trip is mostly while driving in Arizona. Even from your car, you can pass by gorgeous, unforgettable attractions like the Painted Desert, a massive desert of badlands that spans from Grand Canyon National Park to Petrified Forest National Park, named for the spectacular and varied colors of the rock formations. You can find plenty of dining options on the edge of the desert, ranging from cheap and quick to upscale. The next part of the drive takes you to Flagstaff, which boasts a historic downtown area, and Williams, where you can find restaurants and cafés on the way to the California border. Once you arrive in California, you’ll drive through the Mojave Desert to Barstow, or you can take a side trip to Joshua Tree for a driving tour of Joshua Tree National Park. The final stretch of road is to Los Angeles, which takes you to the original Route 66 terminus at 7th and Broadway, a historic downtown area.
Plan your road trip
Now that you have a suggested road trip itinerary for a drive on Historic Route 66 in America, you’re ready to plan your trip. You can visit Expedia to find hotels in Chicago, hotels in Los Angeles, and hotels for the other legs of your trip!