You Can Still Get Your Kicks on Route 66
This summer, check out the most famed and well-traveled highway in America.
If you’re thinking about embarking on that great American road trip this summer, why not plan to motor west? Route 66, the fabled and storied road that winds more than 2,000 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, is still oozing in Americana, with old-school motor lodges, burger joints and one-of-a-kind roadside attractions that your parents never wanted to stop at when you were a kid. Now that you’re in charge of the wheel, let the just-released Lonely Planet Route 66 Road Trips help you on your quest for kitsch. Here are a few of their recommendations:
Wilmington, Illinois, is home to the Gemini Giant, a 28-foot fiberglass spaceman, who has been standing in front of the Launching Pad Drive-In since the ’60s. While you can no longer grab a hot dog and a pop from the recently closed restaurant, if you hurry, you can still get a selfie with the giant muffler man.
The Munger Moss Motel’s neon sign in Lebanon, Missouri, has been drawing in travelers like moths to a flame for more than 50 years. Its legendary sign is always on—even through a Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program refurbishing in 2010.
Further south, in the Texas panhandle city of Amarillo, is one of the most iconic tributes to America’s motor past: the famed, graffiti-covered Cadillac Ranch. What started as an art installation in 1974 is now a rite of passage for Route 66ers.
If souvenirs are on the list, you’ll hit the mother lode of the Mother Road in Seligman, Arizona, which boldly claims to be the birthplace of the “Historic Route 66.” Stop by Angel and Vilma Delgadillo’s Route 66 Memorabilia & Visitor’s Center and pick up shirts, hats, signs, shot glasses and even mousepads for the gang. And if you aren’t all kitsched out, pop over to the Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In for burgers and shakes.
After cruising 2,200 miles through America’s heartland, Route 66 ends at the beautiful Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California. Every great journey should end with a celebration, and the 106-year-old Santa Monica Pier is the place to party, with roller coasters, carnival games and a 1920s carousel that was featured in The Sting.