Skip to Content

The Ultimate Guide to a Route 66 Road Trip: Key Tips and Must-See Destinations

(Last Updated On: )

Embarking on a Route 66 road trip is more than just a journey; it’s an expedition through the heart of America’s cultural and historical landscapes. This legendary highway, often called “The Mother Road,” stretches from Chicago to Santa Monica and encapsulates a rich tapestry of the American spirit. For roadtrippers, Route 66 offers a unique blend of nostalgia, adventure, and the freedom of the open road.

This guide presents 15 essential tips and destinations for anyone planning the ultimate Route 66 road trip. From classic diners and quirky roadside attractions to natural wonders and bustling cities, these insights will ensure your journey along this iconic route is as enriching as it is memorable.

Plan Your Itinerary

shutterstock 574613113 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jacob Lund

Route 66 covers over 2,400 miles, so plan your itinerary to include key stops and attractions while allowing for spontaneous exploration.

Allocate Enough Time

shutterstock 2170852605 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Miljan Zivkovic

Give yourself at least two weeks to fully enjoy the journey without rushing through the attractions.

Ensure Vehicle Readiness

shutterstock 328403843 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / kozirsky

Whether you’re driving a classic or modern car, ensure it’s well-maintained and equipped for the long journey.

Embrace the Roadside Attractions

shutterstock 1067929055 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Nick Fox

Route 66 is famous for its quirky roadside attractions – from giant statues to historic gas stations. Make time to stop and enjoy them.

Stay In Historic Motels

shutterstock 66084772 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / David P. Smith

Enhance your experience by staying in vintage motels along the route that capture the essence of the Route 66 era.

Dine at Classic Diners and Cafes

shutterstock 1209195634 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Petr Pavlica

Experience authentic American cuisine at classic diners and cafes that have been serving travelers for decades.

Visit the Major Cities Along the Route

shutterstock 756554671 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / 4kclips

Explore the major cities along the route, like Chicago, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, and Los Angeles, each offering its own unique culture and attractions.

Learn the History

shutterstock 2044019090 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Rosemarie Mosteller

Take time to learn about the history of Route 66 at various museums and historical sites along the way.

Pack for Varied Weather

shutterstock 2220026905 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Daniel Hoz

Be prepared for a range of weather conditions as you’ll travel through different climates.

Document Your Journey

shutterstock 1132150154 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ground Picture

Keep a journal or blog, and take plenty of photos to document your adventure on this iconic road.

Use a GPS and a Route 66 Guidebook

shutterstock 1008436603 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Daniel Tadevosyan

While a GPS is useful for navigation, a Route 66 guidebook will provide insights into hidden gems and historical context.

Check for Road Closures

shutterstock 636870679 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / RazorbackAlum

Some sections of Route 66 have been decommissioned, so check for road closures and detours.

Meet the Locals

shutterstock 2133350767 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Mlle Sonyah

Interact with locals along the way to hear personal stories and insights about the life along Route 66.

Respect the Environment

shutterstock 1252517548 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / frantic00

Preserve the historic and natural sites you visit by following Leave No Trace principles.

Be Open to Adventures

shutterstock 2243605029 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pandora Pictures

Stay flexible and open to new experiences; some of the best Route 66 memories come from unexpected adventures.

Chicago, Illinois

shutterstock 270834926 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / f11photo

The starting point of Route 66, known for its deep-dish pizza, jazz music, and vibrant architecture.

The Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois

shutterstock 708085900 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / StockPhotoAstur

A classic example of the “Muffler Man” roadside statues.

Meramec Caverns, Missouri

shutterstock 2275495493 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kit Leong

Explore the ancient limestone caves that were once hideouts for outlaws.

The Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma

shutterstock 1751208557 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Tyler Thomason

A beloved and whimsical waterpark landmark.

Cadillac Ranch, Texas

shutterstock 1947027514 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / TLF Images

An iconic public art installation featuring ten Cadillacs buried nose-down in the ground.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

shutterstock 1481021483 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sean Pavone

Offers a rich tapestry of arts, culture, and history, with its distinctive Pueblo-style architecture.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

shutterstock 2285154867 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrea Chiozzi

Known for its fascinating fossils and the colorful Painted Desert.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

shutterstock 37766362 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / shutterupeire

A detour north of Route 66 leads to one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders.

The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona

shutterstock 738065632 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / StockPhotoAstur

Stay in a unique motel where each room is a standalone concrete wigwam.

Santa Monica Pier, California

shutterstock 438704857 1 1

Image Credit: Shutterstock / IVAN DANN

The end point of Route 66, marked by a classic pier with rides, games, and stunning ocean views.

A Route 66 road trip is an immersive dive into the Americana of yesteryear, a journey through landscapes that tell the stories of times gone by. 

Following these tips and stopping at these quintessential destinations will ensure your Route 66 adventure is not just a drive but a journey through the annals of American history and culture. So, rev up your engines, cue the classic tunes, and get ready to hit the open road for an unforgettable American adventure!

More Articles Like This…

Barcelona: Discover the Top 10 Beach Clubs

2024 Global City Travel Guide – Your Passport to the World’s Top Destination Cities

Exploring Khao Yai 2024 – A Hidden Gem of Thailand

The post The Ultimate Guide to a Route 66 Road Trip: Key Tips and Must-See Destinations republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / donvictorio.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

Tips for Trip Success

Book Your Flight
Find an inexpensive flight by using Kayak, a favorite of ours because it regularly returns less expensive flight options from a variety of airlines.

Book Your Hotel or Special Accommodation
We are big fans of Booking.com. We like their review system and photos. If we want to see more reviews and additional booking options, we go to Expedia.

You Need Travel Insurance!
Good travel insurance means having total peace of mind. Travel insurance protects you when your medical insurance often will not and better than what you get from your credit card. It will provide comprehensive coverage should you need medical treatment or return to the United States, compensation for trip interruption, baggage loss, and other situations.Find the Perfect Insurance Plan for Your Tripimage 9133145 14418597

PassingThru is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

To view PassingThru’s privacy policy, click here.

+ posts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.