What Are the Best Attractions to See on Route 66?

Route 66, known as the “Main Street of America” or the “Mother Road,” is a historic highway that stretches from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California. Covering approximately 2,448 miles, it offers travelers a unique glimpse into America’s heartland. This comprehensive guide will cover the best attractions to see on Route 66, providing a detailed overview of what makes this iconic road so special.

1. Begin Sign – Chicago, Illinois

Route 66 landmarks begin sign

Starting your journey in Chicago, the Route 66 Begin Sign is a must-see landmark. Located at Adams Street and Michigan Avenue, it marks the eastern terminus of the historic route. Chicago itself is a vibrant city with attractions like Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Willis Tower, providing a perfect starting point for your adventure.

2. Joliet Area Historical Museum – Joliet, Illinois

About an hour from Chicago, the Joliet Area Historical Museum offers a deep dive into the history of Route 66. The museum features exhibits on the highway’s impact on the region, including vintage cars, memorabilia, and interactive displays. Joliet also boasts the iconic Rialto Square Theatre, a beautiful venue dating back to 1926.

3. Hall of Fame and Museum – Pontiac, Illinois

Pontiac is home to the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, celebrating the history and culture of the Mother Road. The museum showcases a collection of artifacts, photographs, and stories from people who traveled and lived along Route 66. Don’t miss the colorful murals throughout the town and the Livingston County War Museum.

4. The Cozy Dog Drive In – Springfield, Illinois

Springfield, Illinois, offers the Cozy Dog Drive In, a legendary stop where you can enjoy the original corn dog on a stick. This classic diner has been serving travelers since 1949. While in Springfield, visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln’s Home National Historic Site, and the Illinois State Capitol.

5. Chain of Rocks Bridge – St. Louis, Missouri

Route 66 must-see spots

Crossing the Mississippi River, the Chain of Rocks Bridge is a historic site that offers a unique walking experience. The bridge, which features a distinctive 22-degree bend, was part of Route 66 from 1936 to 1968. In St. Louis, you can also explore the Gateway Arch, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the City Museum.

6. Meramec Caverns – Stanton, Missouri

Meramec Caverns, located near Stanton, Missouri, are a spectacular natural wonder. These limestone caves have been a popular tourist attraction since the 1930s and were famously promoted as a hideout for Jesse James. Guided tours take you through stunning formations, underground lakes, and historic artifacts.

7. Museum – Lebanon, Missouri

The Route 66 Museum in Lebanon, Missouri, is another essential stop. The museum is housed in the Lebanon-Laclede County Library and features exhibits on the history of Route 66, including vintage cars, signs, and memorabilia. It also provides insights into the local culture and the development of the highway.

8. Munger Moss Motel – Lebanon, Missouri

While in Lebanon, consider staying at the Munger Moss Motel. This classic Route 66 motel has been welcoming travelers since 1946 and retains its vintage charm with neon signs and retro decor. It’s a great place to experience the nostalgia of mid-20th-century road travel.

9. Drive-In Theatre – Carthage, Missouri

The 66 Drive-In Theatre in Carthage, Missouri, is a quintessential Route 66 attraction. This classic drive-in movie theater, dating back to 1949, offers a nostalgic movie-watching experience under the stars. Carthage also features the historic Jasper County Courthouse and the Precious Moments Chapel.

10. Blue Whale of Catoosa – Catoosa, Oklahoma

Route 66 roadside attractions

The Blue Whale of Catoosa is one of Route 66’s most whimsical attractions. Built in the early 1970s, this giant blue whale sculpture sits on a small pond and has become an iconic photo spot. It’s a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy a picnic. Nearby, you can visit the D.W. Correll Museum, showcasing vintage cars and Route 66 memorabilia.

11. Will Rogers Memorial Museum – Claremore, Oklahoma

In Claremore, Oklahoma, the Will Rogers Memorial Museum honors the life and legacy of the famous humorist, cowboy, and actor. The museum features exhibits on Rogers’ career, including his films, writings, and personal artifacts. Claremore also offers the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum, which houses an extensive collection of firearms and artifacts.

12. Oklahoma Route 66 Museum – Clinton, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton provides an immersive experience into the history of the Mother Road. The museum’s exhibits cover the different eras of Route 66, from its early days to its heyday in the mid-20th century. Interactive displays, vintage cars, and memorabilia offer a comprehensive look at the highway’s impact on American culture.

13. Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, Texas

Cadillac Ranch is one of the most famous and quirky attractions on Route 66. Located just outside Amarillo, this art installation features ten half-buried Cadillacs, nose-down in the dirt. Visitors are encouraged to bring spray paint and add their own artistic touch to the cars, making it an ever-evolving piece of art.

14. Midpoint Café – Adrian, Texas

In Adrian, Texas, you’ll find the Midpoint Café, which marks the geographic midpoint of Route 66. This charming diner is a great place to rest and grab a bite to eat while celebrating the halfway point of your journey. The café is known for its delicious pies and nostalgic atmosphere.

15. Blue Swallow Motel – Tucumcari, New Mexico

Route 66 vintage motels

The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari is a classic Route 66 icon. Opened in 1939, this motel is famous for its neon sign and vintage charm. Staying at the Blue Swallow Motel offers a step back in time, with each room featuring period-appropriate décor and amenities.

16. Route 66 Auto Museum – Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Car enthusiasts will love the Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa. This museum features a collection of classic cars and Route 66 memorabilia. It’s a great place to learn about the automotive history of the Mother Road and see some beautifully restored vehicles.

17. Albuquerque Route 66 – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque boasts a vibrant section of Route 66 with numerous attractions. Be sure to visit the historic El Vado Motel, the Albuquerque BioPark, and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The city also hosts the annual Route 66 Summerfest, a lively celebration featuring music, food, and entertainment.

18. Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona

One of the most stunning natural attractions along Route 66 is the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. This park is home to one of the world’s largest and most colorful concentrations of petrified wood. The park also features beautiful landscapes, ancient petroglyphs, and the Painted Desert.

19. Standin’ on the Corner Park – Winslow, Arizona

Made famous by the Eagles’ song “Take It Easy,” Standin’ on the Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona, is a must-visit. The park features a statue of a man standing on a corner with a guitar, a mural of a flatbed Ford, and a gift shop. It’s a great spot for a photo and a moment of nostalgia.

20. Meteor Crater – Near Winslow, Arizona

Route 66 historic sites

Just a short drive from Winslow, you’ll find Meteor Crater, the best-preserved meteorite impact site on Earth. The crater is nearly a mile wide and 570 feet deep. The visitor center offers educational exhibits, a movie theater, and guided tours of the crater’s rim.

21. Painted Desert – Arizona

Adjacent to the Petrified Forest National Park, the Painted Desert is known for its vibrant and colorful landscapes. The desert features layers of sedimentary rock in various hues, creating a stunning natural mosaic. There are several overlooks and trails where you can take in the breathtaking views.

22. Wigwam Motel – Holbrook, Arizona

The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook offers a unique lodging experience where guests can stay in individual concrete teepees. This historic motel, part of the Wigwam Villages chain, is a classic example of mid-20th-century Americana. The rooms are cozy, and the atmosphere is delightfully retro.

23. Winslow Homolovi State Park – Winslow, Arizona

For a glimpse into the region’s ancient history, visit Homolovi State Park near Winslow. The park protects the archaeological sites of the Ancestral Puebloans who lived in the area between AD 1260 and 1400. The visitor center offers exhibits on the park’s history and guided tours of the ruins.

24. Walnut Canyon National Monument – Near Flagstaff, Arizona

Located near Flagstaff, Walnut Canyon National Monument features well-preserved cliff dwellings built by the Sinagua people over 800 years ago. The park’s trails allow visitors to explore these ancient homes and enjoy the scenic canyon views.

25. Historic Downtown Flagstaff – Flagstaff, Arizona

Route 66 tourist stops

Flagstaff’s historic downtown area is a vibrant district with numerous attractions. You can visit the Lowell Observatory, explore the Museum of Northern Arizona, or simply stroll through the charming streets lined with shops, restaurants, and historic buildings.

26. Grand Canyon – Arizona

While not directly on Route 66, a detour to the Grand Canyon is highly recommended. One of the natural wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon offers breathtaking vistas, hiking trails, and opportunities for outdoor adventure. The South Rim is the most accessible and popular area to visit.

27. Williams – Arizona

Williams, Arizona, is known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon.” The town offers a nostalgic Route 66 experience with its vintage motels, diners, and souvenir shops. Williams is also home to the Grand Canyon Railway, which offers scenic train rides to the South Rim.

28. Seligman – Arizona

Seligman is a small town that played a significant role in the preservation of Route 66. Known as the birthplace of Historic Route 66, Seligman features numerous Route 66-themed attractions, including the famous Snow Cap Drive-In and Angel Delgadillo’s barber shop.

29. Hackberry General Store – Hackberry, Arizona

The Hackberry General Store is a classic Route 66 stop. This vintage roadside attraction offers a treasure trove of Route 66 memorabilia, vintage signs, and classic cars. It’s a great place to take a break and soak in the nostalgic atmosphere.

30. Kingman – Arizona

Route 66 scenic views

Kingman is a major stop on Route 66 with several attractions to explore. Visit the Route 66 Museum, which showcases the history of the highway, and the Mohave Museum of History and Arts. The nearby Hualapai Mountain Park offers outdoor recreation and scenic views.

31. Oatman – Arizona

Oatman is a quirky ghost town turned tourist destination located in the Black Mountains of Arizona. The town is famous for its wild burros that roam the streets and its staged gunfights. Oatman offers a glimpse into the Old West with its historic buildings and unique charm.

32. Route 66 Motel – Needles, California

Crossing into California, the Route 66 Motel in Needles is a classic example of mid-century roadside lodging. The motel features vintage décor and a nostalgic atmosphere, providing a comfortable stay for travelers.

33. Amboy – California

Amboy is a small, historic town with several Route 66 landmarks. The most famous is Roy’s Motel and Café, with its iconic neon sign. The town also features Amboy Crater, a dormant volcanic cinder cone, which offers hiking opportunities and panoramic views.

34. Bagdad Café – Newberry Springs, California

Made famous by the 1987 film “Bagdad Café,” this roadside café in Newberry Springs is a beloved stop for Route 66 travelers. The café offers a quirky and welcoming atmosphere, along with a menu of hearty American fare.

35. Calico Ghost Town – Yermo, California

Route 66 What to Visit

Calico Ghost Town is a well-preserved silver mining town from the late 19th century. The town has been converted into a tourist attraction, with historical buildings, mine tours, and reenactments. It’s a fascinating place to explore and learn about California’s mining history.

36. Route 66 Mother Road Museum – Barstow, California

Located in the historic Casa del Desierto Harvey House, the Route 66 Mother Road Museum in Barstow showcases the history and culture of Route 66. The museum features exhibits on the highway’s impact on American life, vintage vehicles, and memorabilia.

37. Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch – Oro Grande, California

Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is a whimsical outdoor art installation created by Elmer Long. The ranch features hundreds of “bottle trees” made from recycled bottles and other found objects. It’s a unique and colorful attraction that offers plenty of photo opportunities.

38. San Bernardino Rendezvous – San Bernardino, California

San Bernardino hosts the annual Route 66 Rendezvous, a classic car show and festival celebrating the history of the highway. The event features live music, food vendors, and a parade of vintage cars, making it a must-visit for car enthusiasts.

39. Wigwam Motel – San Bernardino, California

Another of the original Wigwam Villages, the Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino offers a nostalgic lodging experience. The motel’s teepee-shaped rooms are iconic, and staying here is like stepping back in time.

40. Santa Monica Pier – Santa Monica, California

Route 66 photo opportunities

The journey on Route 66 concludes at the Santa Monica Pier, where the highway meets the Pacific Ocean. The pier is a vibrant destination with an amusement park, aquarium, restaurants, and shops. It’s the perfect place to celebrate the end of your Route 66 adventure.


Route 66 is more than just a highway; it’s a journey through the heart of America. From the bustling streets of Chicago to the sunny shores of Santa Monica, the attractions along Route 66 offer a glimpse into the country’s history, culture, and natural beauty.

Whether you’re a history buff, a car enthusiast, or simply looking for a memorable road trip, Route 66 has something for everyone. Pack your bags, hit the