Must-See Route 66 Attractions by State

You’ll find many opportunities to stop along the eight state journey but there are a few famous Route 66 stops that you MUST experience on your trip. From the utterly awesome to the notably historic to the wacky weird to the lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must-see Route 66 attractions by state.

ILLINOIS

Utterly awesome to notably historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Illinois Route 66 Attractions

The Skydeck at Willis Tower in Chicago

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Skydeck in Chicago

You will have a memorable visit 103 floors up and 1,353 feet hanging over the city streets on the Ledge at Willis Tower. On a clear day, the skyscraper has views of four Midwestern states – Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. The Willis Tower, a long-time symbol of Chicago, offers breathtaking views and an awesome experience.

Where: 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, Illinois

Gemini Giant in Wilmington

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Gemini Giant overlooking Route 66

The 30-foot Gemini Giant with his silver space helmet and rocket ship stands tall as he overlooks Route 66 from the now-closed Launching Pad Drive-In. The muffler man makes the list as a must-stop for his unique getup and one-of-a-kind photo opportunity.

Where: 810 E. Baltimore Street, Wilmington, Illinois

Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in Pontiac

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Bob Waldmire’s School Bus

There are a few reasons the Route 66 Hall of Fame makes our list. It’s free, has loads of information on display about the infamous road plus many artifacts from Bob Waldmire’s life. He is well-known on the Route 66 circuit as a legend of sorts. It’s a great place to spend a few hours and don’t forget to go outside behind the museum to see Bob’s school bus turned mobile home and to take a picture in front of the giant Pontiac mural lined with original Route 66 bricks.

Where: 110 West Howard Street, Pontiac, Illinois

Funks Grove in Shirley

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Funks Grove where sirup is spelled with an “i”

Situated about twelve miles south of Bloomington, Illinois, you’ll find a small family-owned farm that produces some of the best sirup I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. Yes, that’s sirup with an “I,” stop by to find out why. Funks Grove has been a favorite among Route 66ers since the very beginning.

Where: 5257 Old Route 66, Shirley, Illinois

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum

The Lincoln Presidential Museum brings history to life by taking you through every stage of the 16th President’s life. The interactive exhibits are engaging and entertaining for all ages. Learn about Lincoln’s dark side, his personal interests, family woes, his rise to political power and his lasting effect on America.

Where: 212 N. Sixth Street, Springfield, Illinois

Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Volkswagen Row at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch

Quirky is the name of the game on Route 66 right? It can’t get any quirkier than Henry’s Rabbit Ranch. We are talking adorable bunnies of the hopping variety and rabbits of the Volkswagen stationary kind. You will experience a pet cemetery, a climbable fiberglass photo-op ready giant rabbit, nostalgic Route 66 memorabilia, a friendly owner, and an unforgettable time at the ranch.

Where: 1107 Historic Old Route 66, Staunton, Illinois

Chain of Rocks Bridge in Granite City

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
30-degree turn midway across the Chain of Rocks Bridge

You do not want to miss this interesting mile-long bridge that spans over the mighty Mississippi River. The bridge is one of the coolest we’ve seen on our travels; it has a 30-degree turn right in the middle of it with castle-like intake towers jetting up from the water. It carried travelers across the border –located in the middle of the river – from Illinois to Missouri on Route 66.

Where: Chain of Rocks Rd, Granite City, Illinois

MISSOURI

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Missouri Route 66 Attractions

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
The Gateway to the West

This 630-foot monument is known as the Gateway to the West so you cannot miss it as you begin your journey across the United States. Not only is it a symbol of American history but the world’s tallest arch. You can choose to walk around the base of the arch – especially if you are claustrophobic as it is not for those that dislike small spaces – or take an elevator to the top for fabulous views of the city.

Where: St. Louis, Missouri

Meramec Caverns in Sullivan

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Meramec Caverns

Humming along on old Route 66, you’ll come across a sign for Meramec Caverns, then another one and another one and so on. Even if you hadn’t planned on visiting you’ll make the stop just to see what the fuss is all about. The extensive cave system not only gained notoriety because of its beautiful formations but also for being the hideout of Jesse James, the notorious outlaw. Its combination of natural beauty and kitsch make it a perfect stop on your road trip.

Where: 1135 Route W, Sullivan, Missouri

Missouri Hick BBQ in Cuba

Missouri Route 66

Do not pass by the adorable town of Cuba without stopping in for an Ory’s Spud at MOHick BBQ. You’ll be dreaming about this giant baked potato for the rest of the trip. It comes loaded with baked beans and pulled pork smothered with cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese and sprinkled with bacon, chives and seasoning.

Where: 913 E. Washington, Cuba, Missouri

Uranus Western Mini-Town Strip Mall in Saint Robert

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
The best fudge comes from Uranus

If you like laughing, photo-ops or unique souvenirs then Uranus is the place. The Western town motif storefront is complete with a saloon, dinosaurs, fire engine, tattoo parlor, candy store, and fudge factory. If you don’t laugh when the girl behind the counter at the Fudge Factory screams “Thanks for picking Uranus!” as you head out the door, you need to get your funny bone checked out.

Where: 14400 Hwy Z, Saint Robert, Missouri

RELATED POST: 10 FABULOUS THINGS TO DO IN SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI

Gay Parita Sinclair Filling Station in Everton

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Gay Parita Filling Station

The station is a re-creation of the original that was established eight years after the opening of Route 66 but burned to the ground in 1955. The stop will take you back in time with mementos, photos, cars, tools, and signs from an era long gone. It’s one of the few stops that seem to capture the true essence of the iconic highway.

Where: 21498 MO-266, Everton, Missouri




KANSAS

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Kansas Route 66 Attractions

Cars on the Route in Galena

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Cars on the Route in Kansas

Kansas is only home to an itty-bitty section of the route on the southeast corner of the state but don’t let that hinder you from making it a stop. At the old Kan-O-Tex Service Station you will find the inspiration for the character “Tow Mater” from the Disney movie Cars. The 1951 International Boom Truck sits alongside a few other vintage vehicles and the station now serves as a diner and souvenir shop.

Where: 119 N. Main Street, Galena, Kansas

OKLAHOMA

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Oklahoma Route 66 Attractions

Blue Whale in Catoosa

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
The Blue Whale of Catoosa in Oklahoma

Once a popular swimming hole for Route 66 travelers is now one of the most recognizable roadside attractions on the trip to the west coast. The big blue creature with mouth wide open and kind eyes sits on the edge of a pond baiting visitors to walk on in.

Where: 2600 Route 66, Catoosa, Oklahoma

RELATED POST: 3 DAY ITINERARY IN OKLAHOMA CITY

Rock Café in Stroud

Oklahoma City Route 66
Jaeger Schnitzel at Rock Cafe

Not only is the Rock Café on the National Register of Historic Places and owned by the woman who Sally, the Porsche in Disney’s movie Cars, is based on, it also serves up a delightful plate of Jaeger Schnitzel as well. If fried pork and mushroom gravy is not on your must-eat list on Route 66, it’s time to add it.

Where: 114 W. Main Street, Stroud, Oklahoma

POPS in Arcadia

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Who is thirsty?

You will not believe the selection of soda they carry at POPS. With over 700 kinds from gross to delicious, they have every flavor I could possibly imagine. Plan a little extra time to browse through the selection and grab a bite to eat at the diner.

Where: 660 Rte 66, Arcadia, Oklahoma 

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City

National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

The expansion out west plays a major part in America’s history and as you make that pilgrimage yourself, take a moment to learn about the others before you. The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is entertaining, informative, and hands-down one of the best museums on the route.

Where: 1700 NE 63rd Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TEXAS

Leaning Tower of Texas in Groom

Route 66 Texas
Who needs to go to Italy? We have a leaning tower right here in Texas!

The Britten Water Tower right of Interstate 40 was bought at an auction and meant to be used as the town’s water tank. It never could meet code regulations so instead of doing nothing with it, Ralph Britten decided to place it on his family’s property with a twist… or a lean if you will.

Where: Exit 114 off I-40 W, Groom, Texas

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Rainy day at Cadillac Ranch

The mother of all roadside attractions on Route 66 is the famed Cadillac Ranch. The symbolic row of cars was built by a group of hippies called The Ant Farm. The tribute represents the evolution of car lines such as the Cadillac tailfins which are used in the installation. Spray-painting the cars is a fond memory for many travelers as they leave their mark on Route 66.

Where: I-40, Amarillo, Texas

Midpoint in Adrian

Utterly awesome to notable historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.
Midpoint on Route 66

Adrian, Texas marks the exact geo-mathematical center on Route 66: 1,139 miles in either direction from the start or finish. Stop to take a picture by the sign and eat a slice of pie at Midpoint Cafe, one of the oldest eateries on the highway.

Where: 305 Historic Route 66, Adrian, Texas

NEW MEXICO

Route 66 New Mexico

Blue Hole in Santa Rosa

The crystal clear waters of the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa

Even if it’s not swimming weather, the Blue Hole is worth a short stop to stretch your legs and discover a magical geological gem. The hole is 60-foot round, 81-feet deep and one of the most popular diving spots in the United States. The bright blue waters is a contrast to the desert scape between Amarillo and Albuquerque. 

Where: 1085 Blue Hole Road, Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Musical Highway in Tijeras

If you are taking the Route 66 trip from east to west, you’ll have to turn around to drive on the musical stretch of the road. Just outside of Albuquerque, you’ll find a short section that when you drive 45 miles per hour over the white line “America the Beautiful” plays aloud.

Where: Old Route 66, Tijeras, New Mexico

The Frontier in Albuquerque

Route 66 New Mexico
Breakfast Burrito at the Frontier Restaurant

While traveling through the state, you have to try a dish with the New Mexico green chile. It will not be hard because every menu seems to have at least two items with the local condiment of choice. The Frontier Restaurant has been serving Route 66 patrons for over 45 years and the giant breakfast burrito is a showstopper.

Where: 2400 Central Avenue, Albuquerque, New Mexico




ARIZONA

All the MUST-SEE and DO on Route 66 Arizona: National Parks, Old Western Towns, Unique Lodging, Side Trips, and even a Meteor Crater!

Petrified Forest National Park in Adamana

All the MUST-SEE and DO on Route 66 Arizona: National Parks, Old Western Towns, Unique Lodging, Side Trips, and even a Meteor Crater!
Petrified Forest National Park

Take time out of your day to drive the 28-mile park road through the spectacular Painted Desert and petrified forests in the only national park that contains a section of Historic Route 66.  The Petrified Forest National Park is an extraordinary piece of land with stunning landscapes.

The Corner in Winslow

All the MUST-SEE and DO on Route 66 Arizona: National Parks, Old Western Towns, Unique Lodging, Side Trips, and even a Meteor Crater!
Standin’ on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona

A random street corner in a small town may seem like an odd attraction but it’s not random at all. The corner was made famous from the song “Take it Easy” by the Eagles and is now one of the most busiest corners on Route 66.

Where: 2nd and Kinsley, Winslow, Arizona

Wild Burros in Oatman

Arizona Route 66
How sweet is this face?

In the old mining town of Oatman, you’ll find friendly burros wandering the streets looking to make friends. The furry burros are not the only reason to visit, the town hasn’t changed much since it began in the early 1900s. It’s a throwback to the gun slinging days of the Wild West.

Where: Downtown Oatman, Arizona

CALIFORNIA

Elmer’s Tree Bottle Ranch in Oro Grande

California Route 66 Stops
Bottle Tree Ranch on Route 66

It’s hard to imagine that a front yard of dusty old bottles would be impressive but it is. The maze of glass and metal is enchanting and well worth a stop on your way to the end of the trail.

Where: National Trails Highway, Oro Grande, California

Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica

Route 66

The landmark has been a favorite among travelers for over 100 years. Your visit to the Santa Monica Pier will be bittersweet as your adventure comes to an end. Don’t forget to look for the “End of the Trail” sign at the beginning of the pier.

Which Route 66 attractions would you like to visit? Tell us in the comments below!

Like it? Share it!

Utterly awesome to notably historic to wacky weird to lip-smacking delicious, here are our recommendations for the must see Route 66 attractions.

 

13 Responses

  1. Jason

    I’ve really enjoyed your Rt 66 journey. Thanks for wrapping up all the highlights into one post. I’m saving a PDF of this in case I ever make the trip myself.

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks Jason! Hopefully you make it happen at some point. I’m sure the fam would like it. We really enjoyed it along with some of the side trips we took along the way.

  2. Eric Gamble

    So I definitely have it on my bucket list to drive Route 66 to see the many attractions, especially the old towns and the gas stations and museums. I love all the spots you listed especially the Lincoln Museum, the old town shopping mall of Uranus and definitely Meramec Caverns to name a few. I am bookmarking it cause I may steal your ideas!
    How long did it take you guys to drive the whole route and stop and see everything?

  3. Dany

    We have seen only the last-ish trait of the Mother Road on the West Coast and we’d definitely love to drive through it from Chicago! There are definitely some weird but cool things to see! Thank you so much for this comprehensive list!

  4. Jenn and Ed Coleman

    I used to drive from Arizona to Ohio along Route 66 back when the kids were little and have stopped at many of these attractions (at least from Albuquerque east). I would leave Tucson at dusk and drive through the night, so the Oklahoma and Missouri leg was almost always during daylight hours. My ex wife loved frogs so we always intended to stop at the Waynesville Frog Rock.

    One of my favorite towns along Route 66 was Rolla, phonetically spelled from the town founders home town in North Carolina. Apparently, he had a thick draw.

  5. Catherine

    I enjoyed following along with your road trip. What an amazing journey! While I haven’t driven much of Route 66, I was recently at the Santa Monica Pier with the End of the Trail sign.

  6. Kavita Favelle

    I don’t think I realised quite how much there is to see and do along the old Route 66. I love the quirky ones like Gemini Giant, The Blue Whale and Henry’s Rabbit Ranch the best, and I’d definitely enjoy visiting POPS!

  7. Punita Malhotra

    Route 66 seems like the ultimate fun drive. So many quirky attractions on the way in addition to natural beauty like the Petrified Forest and the Meramec Caverns. And not to mention the great food!

  8. Carmen Edelson

    I’m certainly not scared of heights but that Skydeck looks a bit freaky! Very cool though. Route 66 has been on my list for awhile now and I think 2018 is the year!! I’d love to eat my way through New Mexico, yum 😉

Leave a Reply