Elvis Presley is arguably the most “American” icon of all time. The classic rags to riches story of a poor country boy from Tennessee who became one of the biggest stars on the planet resonates with so many as the embodiment of the American dream.
The first thing you see when driving down a special section of Route 66 in Oklahoma is hints of blue through the trees. When you get a little closer, an image begins to take shape: the sharp lines of a whale's tail, a large gregarious smile, and a bright-blue rounded body topped with an adorable little hat. You are looking at one of Route 66's most famous attractions, the Blue Whale of Catoosa, a Mother Road icon that evokes childhood nostalgia and was born out of one man's love for his wife and his community.
A drive down fabled Route 66 is considered by many to be the ultimate road trip experience. This one single stretch of highway has seized the imagination of many an artist, musician, writer, photographer, filmmaker, and everybody else who has had the privilege of journeying across America down this scenic road. At ROUTE we know that a comfortable place to rest your head at the end of each day is paramount to enjoying the full intimate experience of this iconic highway. So, we have rounded up 19 venues with interesting backstories, unique heritage and undeniable charm. This ROUTE’s hotlist.
Food brings people together, and there is an incredible network of eateries along Route 66 - from home-style grilling to upscale fusion - that make every pit stop more inviting and unforgettable than the last. In The Mother Road Odyssey Part One, we brought you the most iconic and memorable places to stay along Route 66, now, we present some of our favorite places to dine along Route 66: the historic, the high-end, the famous, and the infamous.
Tonopah's Clown Motel sits midway between Las Vegas and Reno, eerily cheerful against its muted desert backdrop. Clowns wave and smile strangely from the road; they line the lobby walls; they hang above the beds. An elephantine Ronald McDonald welcomes you at the check-in desk. Oh, and there's a cemetery next door that's home to 300 long-deceased miners.
America is a land full of tremendous natural beauty, and for anyone who loves to throw on a pair of boots or sturdy sneakers and set out to experience nature in its perfect setting, Route 66 offers a large number of choice spots that will have you in your element
Planning a trip down Route 66 can be as easy or as stressful as you make it out to be. For many sightseers, putting locations into your smartphone and hitting the road is all the planning you think you need. But there’s more to road travel than just not getting lost.
The journey begins in the Windy City of Chicago, and ends 2,400 miles away in the Golden State of California. Known as the Main Street of America, Route 66 crosses the grand open landscapes of the United States. Broken and disconnected in some stretches, Route 66 remains the most enigmatic route accessible to curious road travelers in search of the unique as they seek the freedom of the open road.
Route 66 often conjures up images of friendly small towns, hospitable diners, and famous landmarks. But what about the quiet places in between? During the Mother Road's heyday, there was almost a limitless amount of towns and roadside stops popping up to serve the traveling public. However, when Route 66 died out, decommissioned and supplanted by interstates, many of these small towns died with it. These hollow shells of past prosperity provide a haunting melancholic vibe and are tangible remnants of the boom and bust history of the great American road. While venturing along Route 66, take some time out to appreciate these long lost and forgotten communities and experience their ghostly aura.
The state of Arizona is packed with picturesque places to stop and stretch your legs while on a road trip or a longer visit. ROUTE offers some suggestions on a few of our favorite.
On a lonely stretch of Route 95, cast haphazardly against the sagebrush of Central Nevada, is the tiny ghost town of Goldfield. Home to only 268 people, its main industries are tourism and gold. To the south of town the “International Car Forest” is the main draw for travelers. But this is a recent attraction, for most of the town’s history, its showpiece was the legendary Goldfield Hotel. A four-story classical revival building built in 1908. The yawning façade still dominates the town’s main square. It caused a sensation upon its opening, as it was one of the first hotels in the west to use electric lights and supply running water to every room.
While the majority of people tackle Route 66 via private vehicle or RV, there are many different ways to cross the country and to experience a jaunt down the Main Street of America.
The iconic Route 66 landmark known for its giant roadside dream catcher and its geodesic dome design is getting a new lease on life.
ROUTE Magazine caught up with bestselling author and Route 66 ambassador, Michael Wallis, who shared on his enviable career as a writer, his famous book Route 66: The Mother Road, and his favorite places and people along the iconic highway. A well-respected and known persona on the Route, Wallis reveals some things that even those who know him best may be surprised to learn.
Few towns along Route 66 represent the Mother Road more magically that Pontiac, Illinois. Located in the lovely county of Livingston, the small town paints the perfect picture of middle America with its idyllic parks and swinging bridges that cross the Vermilion River. The town was even honored to be the chosen location for the 1984 film, Grandview, USA.
With a history almost as colorful and interesting as the actual interior of the vintage venue, Flagstaff’s Monte Vista has a fascinating story to tell.
Few sports are as American as baseball, and few roads are as quintessentially American as the Mother Road. But it is fascinating to better understand the actual connection between baseball and Route 66 over the years.
Gallup, New Mexico, with Route 66 running straight down the center of town, is one of those locations that still clings to an earlier period. The quirky town is home to Anasazi archaeological sites from around 300 A.D. and was founded in 1881 as a railhead for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The fledgling area was named after David Gallup, a paymaster for the railroad.
Even in its heyday, Route 66 was not the continuous benign bright ribbon that some might imagine. Almost without exception, life was as hard as anywhere else – sometimes harder – and highway traffic was comprised not only of the military, the commercial traveller and the tourist, but of darker elements. Some places seemed to attract sadness and tragedy more than others, and one such place was Toonerville in Arizona.
Texas’ section of Route 66 is at times described as pancake-flat and featureless, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are 179 beautiful miles of the Mother Road that run across the Texas panhandle, offering road trippers moody ghost towns, vintage cafes and fuel stations and a myriad of amazing places to eat, stop and take in a deep breath of Route 66 history. And with all on offer, few towns along the route can compete with McLean, Texas, for its surreal, lonely atmosphere and ‘town lost in time’ vibe.
There’s so much literature out there about Route 66 that it can be hard to pick the very best ones to build your Route 66 library, so we’ve tried to help. In this list, you’ll find history books to help you understand the context of the road and guidebooks to help you plan your travels. You’ll also find books focused on a specific part of 66, like ghost towns or photos of the highway. So before you set out on your trip of a lifetime, and get to see the best of America, grab these books. And when you get back home, you’ll be glad to relive your trip through your 66 book collection.
In a town noted for its otherworldliness, the International Car Forest of the Last Church stands out in Goldfield. Once the biggest town in Nevada, Goldfield is now a place people pass through, although not too quickly. The local police force is noted for its enthusiasm in enforcing the speed limit.
Tulsa is inching closer to being a major attraction on the red-hot revival of Route 66, perhaps just months away from construction of the much-anticipated Route 66 Experience and an explosion of growth along the 24 miles of Route 66 in our city.
California’s 314 mile section of Route 66 is home to some of the old road’s most vivid scenery and unique attractions. There is something about the moody desert atmosphere, with its numerous fading ghost towns and lost in time venues, that leaves a deep etch in the heart of intrepid travelers. Every dilapidated structure seems to have its own story, and it is not difficult if one closes their eyes and listens carefully, to hear the ghosts of yesterday. The desert has a way of opening the mind and nudging the spirit. Yet, perhaps even more memorable and captivating are the people of California’s Route 66. In many cases, true to Old West stereotypes, these are pioneers and dreamers, each with a destiny to fulfill and a heavy helping of true grit.