Legendary Route 66

By | September 26, 2021

Drive the iconic Route 66, past American diners, motels and through the stunning scenery of the United States featured by indexdotcom. The journey goes through three time zones and the eight states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

On this road trip you will experience the classic Route 66, also known as “Main Street of America” ​​or “Mother Road”, which for decades was the main road to the western United States for pioneers, dreamers, desperate and a whole generation of curious tourists . The 1950s were Route 66’s heyday, with thousands of cars driving west in search of ultimate freedom. Hotels, motels, gas stations and restaurants appeared everywhere along the classic road, and at many of these there are nostalgic monuments, which have been preserved just as they were in the fifties. Route 66 is the perfect adventure and crosses three time zones and the eight states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Day 1: Departure from Sweden and arrival in Chicago

Departure from Sweden to Chicago with arrival the same day. Once you have received the rental car, you go to your hotel and can check in immediately. Chicago is so much more than just the starting point for Route 66. It is a city with a rich history and a musical heart. The city’s growth comes from large industries, and the need to transport goods from these industries led to the first railways and then the paved road network. From Lake Michigan you have a nice view of downtown Chicago with its many skyscrapers. The highest is Willis Tower, which rises 442 meters into the sky. The elevator takes 70 seconds and takes you up to floor 103, from here you have unobstructed views of the entire city and Lake Michigan. You can also take a night out and visit one of the many blues clubs.

Day 2: On a voyage of discovery in Chicago

You have all day to explore Chicago. You can visit the Field Museum of Natural History, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Art Institute, Willis Tower, John Hancock Tower, North Pier and Navy Pier, among others. Also visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio for a unique experience. Wright was one of the pioneering architects of the United States and has influenced the thinking of an entire generation of architects. End the day in China Town or Little Italy, where there are plenty of restaurants and family-owned specialty shops.

Day 3: ChicagoBloomingtonSpringfield, Illinois (335 km)

This is how the adventure begins along Route 66. You start at the corner of Adams Street and Michigan Avenue. From here, drive to Bloomington, where you can visit Historic Route 66 Memory Lane. In the traditional park along Route 66, you can experience restored signs, classic business signs and some of Burma-Shave’s classic rhymes, written on signs in a few words. Then continue to Springfield, which was designated the state capital of Illinois in 1837. This was mainly due to the young lawyer and politician Abraham Lincoln. He lived in the city and was elected the 16th in the United States. president in 1861. Since that day, the city’s history and future have been closely linked to this beloved American. You can visit the Lincoln National Historic Site, Lincoln Depot and Lincoln Tombstones.

Day 4: Springfield to Saint Louis, Missouri (165 km)

Today you continue further south and cross the state border into Missouri. Here the forest meets the prairie and the Mississippi River meets the Missouri River. You drive towards Saint Louis, which is one of the most important cities in Missouri. The city was founded on the Mississippi River in 1762 and became the gateway to the west. From here, explorers Lewis and Clark set out to explore the unknown west and find a way to the Pacific Ocean. As early as 1926, Route 66 passed Saint Louis, which confirmed the city’s position as a hub. This position was later confirmed with events such as the World Expo, the Olympics and the first international balloon competition. Union Station was once the world’s busiest railway station. The architecture is inspired by the medieval city of Carcassonne in the south of France. Today, the old railway station is a shopping center. You can also visit the Grant’s Farm Museum, dedicated to Ulysses S. Grant, who owned the farm and was also the 18th President of the United States. Today, the farm’s land is a nature reserve where you can see bison, moose and antelope. Route 66 crosses the Mississippi River just north of downtown on the old Chain of Rocks Bridge. From here, a pedestrian and bicycle path goes down to the Gateway Arch, which is a hallmark of Saint Louis and a symbol of the road to the west. At Gateway Arch is the Museum of Westward Expansion, where you can see the type of horse-drawn carriage that the settlers traveled several hundred kilometers with.

Day 5: Saint Louis – Rolla – Springfield, Missouri (350 km)

When you drive from Saint Louis, you first pass through an industrial area that is slowly being dissolved by agriculture and vineyards, and on the horizon you see the Ozark Plateau. Meramec Caverns opened to tourists in 1933 and is the oldest tourist attraction along Route 66. The next stop on the route is the town of Rolla, where the Totem Pole Trading Post opened in 1933. If you feel like a little detour, the Mark Twain National Forest is also at Rolla. In the forest there are good hiking trails and a Scenic Byway. From Rolla, continue deep into the Ozark Plateau, which covers most of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. This was a border area until the timber companies made inroads at the end of the 19th century. You continue to Springfield, Missouri, where Route 66 was named. Here you can still see parts of the original road through the city. At diners you can still see the classic stalls with red leather and shiny chrome, small “tourist courts” (the forerunner of motels) and service stations, which have closed today. Today’s journey ends in Springfield, where the historic Route 66 borders Jordan Valley Park, a colorful city center and town square.

Day 6: Springfield – Joplin – Tulsa, Oklahoma (300 km)

Today you’re leaving Missouri for Oklahoma. Take Highway 96 west of Springfield to follow the original Route 66 for about 60 miles. Here you will see a number of classic brown and white Route 66 signs, which point out everything from historic petrol stations to motels and cafes along the way. You can stop in Carthage and see the beautiful old courthouse or visit Dale’s Ole ’66’ Barber Shop on the corner of Utica St and Euclid Avenue in Joplin. If you follow the old Route 66, drive for about 20 km through the southwest corner of the state of Kansas. Before driving across the border from Kansas to Oklahoma, you can visit the bank in Baxter Springs that the famous Jesse James robbed. The bank is today a restaurant and the vault has become a toilet. Oklahoma is not normally the first state to think of when it comes to attractions, in terms of Route 66, Oklahoma is the winner. Here is the longest stretch from the original Route 66, which is in a much better condition than in the other states. This is a true paradise for Route 66 lovers. At most tourist information offices, you can get a 62-page brochure about Route 66 in Oklahoma, which the Oklahoma Route 66 Association has published. Today’s destination is Tulsa, which in the 1920s was considered the world’s oil capital. Business flourished and businessman Cyrus Avery then got the idea to connect the Midwest (Chicago) with California with a paved road, and the road would of course also go through his hometown and state: Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Day 7: Tulsa to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (180 km)

Tulsa is still a thriving city today and is today for the space industry what Silicon Valley is for the IT industry. There are also companies with roots in the oil industry. Oklahoma is a fertile farmland for good years, but when the drought strikes for a long period, everything becomes barren and dry. It happened in the 1930s in the wake of the economic collapse of 1929, and many farmers had to leave their homes. John Steinbeck’s filmed novel “Grapes of Wrath” describes an agricultural family in Oklahoma and their journey along Route 66 away from drought, hunger, and poverty to the land drowning in milk and honey, California. If you are driving on Highway 66 when driving from Tulsa toward Oklahoma City, drive on the longest continuous stretch of the original Route 66. On today’s stage, you will encounter some of the road’s major attractions. Chandler has a number of gas stations and motels that are fairly well-preserved, some even carefully restored. In addition, there is a large, old sign with advertising for Meramec Caverns. In Arcadia you can see the famous round barn from 1898, and 200 meters away is the cozy Hillbilly’s Café. Oklahoma City is a real cowboy city. This is something you can especially experience in Stockyards City, which was founded in the 1910s and where today you can buy everything from a western saddle to hand-sewn cowboy boots. The nearest neighbor is the Oklahoma National Stockyards, which is probably the world’s largest livestock market. Public livestock auctions are held every Monday and Tuesday. At the National Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center, you can see and hear about the lives and trials of pioneers.

Day 8: Oklahoma – Shamrock – Amarillo, Texas (420 km)

From Oklahoma City, Route 66 follows the road US 77, and is unfortunately no longer signposted from here. The journey continues through El Reno and across the Mile-Long Bridge near Bridgeport to Clinton, which represents Route 66 soul. In Clinton is the Route 66 Museum, which displays parts of six decades of history, memories and music. Shortly after, you drive into Texas and continue to the oil town of Shamrock, where you can refuel at one of the original U-Drop-Inn stations from 1936. They were so modern that they had a restaurant attached to them. At McLean, we can suggest an oversized lunch: a two-pound Texas steak. Today’s journey ends in Amarillo. On West 6th Street, the houses have been recreated in the 1920s style, and here you will find cozy antique shops and pubs. On Tuesdays, Amarillo’s legendary cattle auction is open to the public, if anything, Texas proves the status of the cowboys’ homeland. At Amarillo there is a very exciting attraction, or rather a sculpture, namely Cadillac Ranch. It consists of 10 Cadillacs from 1948 to 1963 with the typical hind fins. The cars stand with their noses buried in the ground and the rear part with their fins up in the air and have been painted by passers-by. Most often they are adorned with graffiti, but sometimes they are all plain pink or orange.

Day 9: Amarillo – Tucumcari – Santa Rosa – Albuquerque, New Mexico (460 km)

If you are craving a little detour today, we can recommend driving south to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It is a very beautiful, 400 m deep ravine in strong red and orange shades. The gorge extends about 100 km from Amarillo to the Red River. Back to Route 66. When you reach Adrian, you are halfway between Chicago and Los Angeles. Then you arrive in enchanted New Mexico. In the ghost town of Glen Rio, you can stand with one foot in Texas and the other in New Mexico. You have now driven through five states and have three more states in front of you. The first city you meet in New Mexico is Tucumcari, where the beautifully restored Blue Swallow Motel is located. The motel is one of the absolute highlights of Route 66. It was built in 1939 and had its own garage for each room. Then the motel had a very beautiful neon sign with a blue swallow, which has also contributed to its fame. The next exciting city along the way is Santa Rosa, which still has a lot of classic activities in the center, such as Comet Drive-In and Joseph’s Bar and Grill. In addition, Bono’s Route 66 Auto Museum is worth a visit. Through eastern New Mexico, the road runs along the Southern Pacific Railroad. From 1926 to 1937, Route 66 turned to northwestern Santa Rosa and went in an arc around the capital Santa Fe before continuing to Albuquerque. Due to political intrigue, the road was straightened out in 1937, so that it went directly from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque. Albuquerque is New Mexico’s largest city and has a long history. The original Route 66 runs about 30 miles through the city, and along those 30 miles are a variety of motels, charming diners, cafes and traditional neon signs.

Day 10: Albuquerque – Santa Fe – Albuquerque (200 km)

Today, the entire day is devoted to a visit to the oldest state capital in the United States, Santa Fe, which is also one of the most popular resorts for Americans. There are few places in the United States where you can follow the course of history as you can in Santa Fe. The city was founded 400 years ago, at the end of El Camino Real, which connected Mexico City to the surrounding provinces. The city therefore has clear elements from the Spaniards and indigenous people, and today Santa Fe has been nicknamed “City Different” due to the unique mix of cultures. Visit the beautiful church from 1626, Mission San Miguel, built by the Spanish conquistadors for their servants. For another historical look back, visit the oldest preserved house in Santa Fe, built in 1766. Here in New Mexico you will also find some of the oldest traces of the indigenous people of North America, up to 4,000 years old. But Native American culture is not only hidden in museums but lives and feels good. Feel free to visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, where you can see beautiful crafts from New Mexico’s 19 Native American communities. Near the cultural center is the Petroglyph National Monument, where you can see some of the up to 17,000 rock carvings that mainly depict animals.

Day 11: Albuquerque – Gallup – Holbrook, Arizona (375 km)

As you leave Albuquerque, you will cross the Rio Grande and drive towards the open expanses of the Navajo and Hopi areas. We suggest that you make a detour to Ácoma Sky City, which is the building in North America that has been inhabited for the longest time without interruption. It is an Indian pueblo on top of a mountain, about 120 m above the valley. Until the mid-1950s, it was only possible to reach the pueblon via a hiking trail and Ácoma was thus a naturally impenetrable fort. Today, Ácoma is almost exclusively a museum resort. There are few permanent residents, as the city has no electricity and water supply or common sewer. However, this does not mean that a visit is not a fantastic experience. Remember to visit the San Esteban del Rey mission station, which is protected due to its beautiful interior. Back on Route 66 you pass the town of Grants. From here you can, up to the old castle and the railway town of Gallup, experience a lot of relics from Route 66’s glory days. Along the way, you cross the North American watershed. Then drive across the border to Arizona and through Holbrook, Petrified Forest National Park, where an entire forest of fossilized, giant prehistoric conifers lies on the ground. The stretch through the park is 50 km long, and this part is the only one on the entire Route 66 that is protected.

Day 12: Holbrook – Winslow – Grand Canyon incl. Helicopter – Flagstaff, Arizona (420 km)

Do not miss Wigwam Village, one of the main attractions along Route 66, during your visit to Holbrook. The motel rooms are shaped like Indian tents but are built in concrete. After Holbrook, you reach Winslow, who was immortalized by the group Eagles’ song “Take it Easy”, as they sing “Well I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona”. Stop at Minnetonka Trading Post which has a facade covered with petrified wood. Then take a detour to one of the highlights of the trip – the Grand Canyon. The stunning ravine cut by the Colorado River is approximately 1.7 km deep and up to 30 km wide. The color play of the rocks is unique and varies greatly depending on what time of day it is. You can walk a whole day along the edge of the huge gorge and still not get the same unforgettable views of the northern Grand Canyon that you get when you go on the scenic helicopter ride that is part of the trip. You will experience the widest and deepest part of Grad Canyon, as you fly through Dragon Corridor. When you are on solid ground again, the journey continues to Flagstaff, where you will spend the night.

Day 13: Flagstaff to Las Vegas (425 km)

From Flagstaff you drive through the high-lying wooded areas to the world’s gaming center, Las Vegas. Along the way you can experience a lot of legendary places along Route 66. The first city you come to after Flagstaff is Williams, which already in the early 20th century had consolidated its position as a gateway to the Grand Canyon. Williams is also the city where the very last section of the original Route 66 was rerouted to Interstate 40, in 1984. After that, most cars drove past the city. Here you can see classic Route 66 locations such as Rod’s Steak House and the largely unspoilt main street, which also represents American everyday life outside the big cities. The center of the small town is included in the National Register of Historic Places. About 40 miles west of Williams, the original Route 66 leaves Interstate 40. It is worth driving past Siligman and Hackberry thanks to the Hackberry General Store, which may be one of the most popular attractions along the historic Route 66. From Kingman, you drive to Las Vegas, which is also a must. Las Vegas has something for everyone. There’s something going on around the clock. Here you can go to the funniest performances, feel the excitement of the casino, walk along The Strip, see the fantastic fountain at Bellagio or the equally beautiful light show on Fremont Street. There are also plenty of outlet stores in Las Vegas, where you can buy branded goods at very low prices. Here you can go to the funniest performances, feel the excitement of the casino, walk along The Strip, see the fantastic fountain at Bellagio or the equally beautiful light show on Fremont Street. There are also plenty of outlet stores in Las Vegas, where you can buy branded goods at very low prices. Here you can go to the funniest performances, feel the excitement of the casino, walk along The Strip, see the fantastic fountain at Bellagio or the equally beautiful light show on Fremont Street. There are also plenty of outlet stores in Las Vegas, where you can buy branded goods at very low prices.

Day 14: Las Vegas – Barstow – Santa Monica, California (620 km)

From Las Vegas you drive back to Kingman. Now you have the opportunity to drive along the old Route 66 which goes over the Black Mountains, where there are many serpentine roads and scenic views. Along the road you drive through the old gold digging village, Oatman, which was the reason the road was laid through the Black Mountains. If you make a stop here, you get a chance to experience the Wild West. You can also follow the original Route 66 to Topock and cross the Colorado River there. The Colorado River marks the border with California, and Needles is the first city you meet. Here you can see several historic buildings from the heyday of the Santa Fe Railway. Among other things, here is the hotel El Garces, which was a Harvey House and thus among the first hotels in a real chain. From Needels to Barstow you drive through seemingly barren landscapes, but the road was originally the Santa Fe Railroads track, and along it lay thriving cities. Today there are not many tracks left. But in Goffs you can experience a real ghost town, and in Amboy there are 10 buildings from the 1930s, which are now mainly used by the film industry. Do not miss the neon sign outside Roy’s. From Ludlow, continue along Route 66, which runs almost parallel to Interstate 40. About 50 km to the west are Newberry Springs and Baghdad Café, which became world famous in the late 1980s in the movie of the same name. Barstow has been a hub since Santa Fe’s railroad tracks were drawn here 125 years ago. Route 66 runs along the main street. Visit Barstow Station, where there is a famous McDonalds built of wagons. Also in Barstow is a Harvey House by the old Railroad Depot from 1910, which is still used today. After Barstow, follow the old Route 66 through Lenwood, Hodge, Heledale and Oro Grande before reaching Victorville, where you cross a 1930s steel bridge. After Victorville, there are few or no tracks of the original Route 66 and you must therefore follow Interstate 15 to San Bernadino, and from there Interstate 10 to Los Angeles. From here you can follow Figueroa Street, Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard to the world-famous pier that goes out to sea. The road is marked with the classic brown-white signs that say Route 66. and from there Interstate 10 to Los Angeles. From here you can follow Figueroa Street, Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard to the world-famous pier that goes out to sea. The road is marked with the classic brown-white signs that say Route 66. and from there Interstate 10 to Los Angeles. From here you can follow Figueroa Street, Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard to the world-famous pier that goes out to sea. The road is marked with the classic brown-white signs that say Route 66.

Day 15: Big city and sun vacation in Los Angeles

Santa Monica was the western end of Route 66, and today you can see a brass placard marking the end, located where Santa Monica Boulevard meets Ocean Boulevard. Santa Monica is both a fantastic coastal city with lots of tourists and an active city with a thriving working life. There is something for all ages, plenty of art galleries and museums, and on the world-famous pier there is a whole amusement park with the iconic Ferris wheel in the center.

Day 16: Santa Monica / Los Angeles – departure from Los Angeles

Now the journey home goes after a 16-day journey through the United States. The time depends on when your flight departs.

Day 17: Arrival in ScandinaviaArrival in Scandinavia. Arrival time to Scandinavia depends on the airline.

Overnight stays

Fifteen nights in a hotel

Legendary Route 66