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

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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

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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

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Miljan Zivkovic

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

Ensure Vehicle Readiness

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Daniel Hoz

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

Document Your Journey

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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

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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

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / RazorbackAlum

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

Meet the Locals

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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

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / frantic00

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

Be Open to Adventures

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

Chicago, Illinois

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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

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / StockPhotoAstur

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

Meramec Caverns, Missouri

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kit Leong

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

The Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Tyler Thomason

A beloved and whimsical waterpark landmark.

Cadillac Ranch, Texas

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / TLF Images

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

Santa Fe, New Mexico

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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

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrea Chiozzi

Known for its fascinating fossils and the colorful Painted Desert.

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

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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

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / StockPhotoAstur

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

Santa Monica Pier, California

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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!

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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 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

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