In November 2016 was it exactly 90 years ago that this legendary mother road between Chicago and Santa Monica was opened. With some 4,000 kilometers of road, eight different states and three time zones, this is one of the most famous roads in the world. The mother road is also called Route 66.
The real Route 66 no longer exists. In 1985, U.S. Route 66 officially lifted. You can follow the original route, but you should follow the signs US55 – US44 – US40 and US15. However, tourists still ride this old, legendary road, which inspired many books and films.
The history of Route 66
Route 66 was not always a tourist route for roadtripping through the United States. In 1926, the road opened for the first time and was numbered 66. The goal was a faster connection for freight traffic between the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
This legendary road became more popular after the Second World War. Many people wanted to flee the industrial east and took the road towards the sunny and warm south. It became busier on the road and more and more motels, diners on the route, followed by huge billboards. And that attracted more tourists. Actually everything that travelers needed on the road was built on the side of the road.
Now that the official route 66 no longer exists, the road is no less popular, because Americans and holidaymakers still travel the road 3,940 kilometers from Chicago to Santa Monica. On the bike, with a camper, in a pick-up or in an American oldtimer. Whatever you choose, you will enjoy. Route 66 winds through the American landscape in a phenomenal way. Along the way you will pass places you will never forget: the Grand Canyon, the Mississippi, Arizona’s Painted Desert, Mojave Desert, Las Vegas, Petrified Forest National Park and as an encore the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice.
You want to experience that in your life? Start in Chicago and drive to Los Angeles at your own pace. On the way you eat in old-fashioned dinners, sleep in smoky motels and view world-famous sights such as the Grand Canyon. In short: All the ingredients for the road trip of your life.
Most of the travelers begin their Route 66 in the north, in the city of Chicago. This fascinating city is a nice place to stay the first days of your trip. Visit the famous Navy Pier on beautiful Lake Michigan, go to the top of the Willis Tower and admire the image Cloud Gate, also known as ‘the bean’, up close.
One of the most famous sights along Route 66 is the grotto system Meramec Caverns. The caves are an hour’s drive from Saint Louis, and are announced well in advance through countless billboards. It is difficult to overlook this attraction, so you might as well stop here. The huge dripstone caves are 400 million years old, and consist of special spaces and rock formations in all kinds of forms. The system of caves is almost 7.5 kilometers long and during a guided tour you can admire the giant stalagmites and stalactites from up close.
Amarillo in Texas is a nice city to stay for a few days. You will find the largest cattle market in Texas, where thousands of animals are traded every Tuesday morning. You stand side by side with cowboys and cattle dealers, but watch out that you do not raise your hand because before you know it you have bought a cow. In Amarillo you will also find the Cadillac Ranch, an art installation of a number of graffiti decorated Cadillacs that half in the ground.
Along the way you will encounter a lot of typical American dinners, but exactly in the middle of Route 66 is the Midpoint Café. Here you take place on leather chairs and formica tables, on the wall hang Route 66 memorabilia and in the corner is a jukebox. You order huge burgers, homemade cakes or a pile of American pancakes. An excellent place for a short stop.
Not to be missed during a trip on Route 66 is of course is the Grand Canyon. This huge gorge is cut through by the rugged Colorado River, and the views are stunningly beautiful. You can choose from the so-called South Rim and the North Rim, where the South Rim is the most beautiful and the North Rim the quietest. Be sure to take a day of hiking among the rust brown rocks or take a helicopter ride over the spectacular landscape for an unforgettable adventure.
Calico Ghost Town
There are several deserted towns along the entire Route 66 route. Places that have been abandoned over the years and are slowly being swallowed up by nature. One of the most famous ghost towns along Route 66 is Calico, in southern California. Once upon a time 1200 people lived in this old mining town, but when the silver market collapsed the town was abandoned. Today it is a place where you can travel back in time. Houses have been restored, there are shops and restaurants, and you can get guided tours through the old mines. It is a bit commercial, but Calico is still worth a visit.
Los Angeles, the city of angels, is the end of your journey on Route 66. The city of beautiful beaches, Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Spend the last days of your trip in Venice or Santa Monica, visit the Getty Center or spot world-famous movie stars on the Rodeo Drive shopping street. Also nice: Pay a visit to a film studio for a look behind the scenes on the set of your favorite TV series.
Driving the Route 66 – How do you do that?
Most travelers start their road trip in Chicago and end up in Los Angeles. There are tickets from Europe to Chicago for $ 550,- . for that . If you want to start the other way around, than there are tickets from Europe to Los Angeles from $ 750,-.
From Australia it is exactly the other way around. Then you are cheaper for a ticket to Los Angeles ( $ 700) than to Chicago ( $ 900 ). Check Skyscanner for your cheapest Tickets. (Change the language in skyscanner at the top when needed)
Because Route 66 officially no longer exists, it is useful to sign the route in advance. In Chicago you drive with your rental car via the US55 to Saint Louis, from where you follow the US44 to Oklahoma. In Oklahoma the route goes into the US40, and in Barstow you drive to the US15 for last stretch to Santa Monica. In total, the entire route is about 3940 kilometers long, but anyway, a very beautiful trip.
We hope you have a wonderful trip on Route 66. Let us know how your trip was.
! Comming soon… aTour guide of all sightseeing along Route 66 !
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