Route 66 Road Trip: Sights To Behold Along America's Iconic Freeway
A Route 66 Road Trip has always been a dream for road trippers looking to enjoy the best of what the US offers. The vast highway traverses through landscapes highly representative of authentic Americana, so people going on a road trip along it do so out of the entire route’s fantastic sights and sounds.
But a road trip on one of America’s most iconic freeways always involves the question of where to go and what to see along it, considering the sheer amount of attractions it hosts. To make your Route 66 road trip worthwhile, consider these wonderful destinations – from east to west, to make it truly worthwhile.
America’s “Windy City” serves as both the starting and ending point of Route 66, depending on which side you’ll be coming from. As the economic and financial center of the US Midwest, Chicago has both its downtown and suburban areas that showcase some of the best examples of American architecture. Don't miss Chicago on your Route 66 Road Trip!
The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers city-wide tours of Chicago’s best architectural features, which exhausts a bevy of transportation modes such as subways, trolley buses, boats, bikes, and even Segway scooters. Chicago neighborhoods featuring marvels by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright are best enjoyed through organized walking tours.
The art collective Ant Farm may be best known for their “Media Burn” countercultural performance, but along Route 66 comes another of their popular art installations – the Cadillac Ranch in Texas. The uninitiated may think of the ranch – not in the conventional sense of course, as bizarre from the outset, but its sheer absurdity makes for an interesting visit for road trippers.
Located westward of Amarillo – one of Route 66’s most notable stops, the Cadillac Ranch is unmissable for, well, its array of junk tailfin Cadillacs partially buried nose-first amid a relatively-barren landscape. For some, the entire installation may be some sort of “Stonehenge on wheels,” or perhaps an Easter Island-like junkyard reminiscent of much of the 20th century’s wastefulness.
Route 66 Gift Shop
A Route 66 road trip would never be complete without a trip to the Route 66 Gift Shop – inconspicuously named for its status as the most recognizable and “original” gift shop along the entire route that carries its name. Angel Delgadillo – popular for his reputation as Route 66’s “guardian angel” whose stories became the basis for the “Cars” movie series, runs the gift shop.
Mr. Delgadillo’s gift shop serves as a visitor center, where you can get valuable advice on places to visit along Route 66, as well as purchase some must-have gift items that come as perfect souvenirs from the fabled route. You can also get yourself a snow cap for dessert from Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In – also managed by Mr. Delgadillo, just across the street.
Barstow Harvey House
Once a classic, always a classic – at least that’s how you’d probably describe the Barstow Harvey House upon your first visit. Formerly a railway station with a hotel and restaurant built in 1885, the entire house was engulfed in flames during a 1908 fire. But through the compassion of architect Mary Colter, who restored the house back to near-perfect condition between 1910 to 1913.
The Barstow Harvey House, alternatively called Casa del Desierto due to the surrounding desert, was one of many Harvey House railway hotels built before Amtrak took over interstate rail travel. Consider visiting the house’s museums – the Route 66 Mother Road Museum and the Western America Railroad Museum, and learn more about how railways helped shape the modern US.
Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain
Los Angeles, the final stop of Route 66, is not just about Hollywood, Beverly Hills, or its dazzling downtown area. The megacity is home to the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, where you can experience an authentic old-fashioned dining experience predominated by its diner and soda fountains, fully-operational drugstore, and an exciting pharmacy filled with colorful goodies.
Desserts are somewhat a way of life in Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, despite its name. Order any of their famous ice cream flavors, or go for large with their banana split, which comes in generous servings. Remember to take home some of their old-fashioned candies as souvenirs to complete your visit.