There's a simple answer to this question and a slightly more complicated answer.
Strictly speaking, Las Vegas is not on Route 66. Fortunately, this city is a either the beginning or the end point for Route 66 Tours, and it's one of our favourite destinations.
It seems like quite the oversight that the Mother Road never passes through this still-growing town. The way the highway was originally routed would require a 2.5-hour trip zigzagging south, then northwest from tiny Peach Springs, Arizona. However, the Mother Road continued following the railroad into California to Los Angeles, avoiding the then small settlement of Las Vegas.
Fortunately, it seems like Las Vegas did just fine without ever handling the passers-by of Route 66.
Which Route 66 Tours stop in Las Vegas?
Unlike the stunning – and conveniently located – Meramec Caverns in Missouri, Las Vegas is never a detour on our road trip itineraries. It's always a destination.
After hooking north from the main road near Flagstaff, Arizona to ride through the Kaibab National Forest and arrive at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, we know our crews are always eager to burn rubber towards California. So we take the southern route from there, crossing the Colorado River at Topock on our way into California.
The best driving routes to Las Vegas
Our express tour starts in Las Vegas before heading south to California where our riders merge onto Route 66 in the Mojave Desert, heading east. From there, they'll travel through the American Southwest and the Midwest before ending their journey in Chicago.
Our full-length road trips start in Chicago, where our guests take a few days to recover from their jet lag and acclimate to driving on the wrong side of the road. Then we travel all the way from the Windy City to California on Route 66. After completing our trip down the iconic highway in the Mojave, we avoid the crazy traffic of the LA Basin, and head North to end our tours in Las Vegas.
What's so special about Las Vegas anyway?
We're glad you asked.
Sin City, as it's sometimes called, is perhaps best known throughout the world for one thing: casinos. The Las Vegas Strip is a stretch of road unlike any other in the world, and it's well worth the trip. Luxury resorts where you can kick back and relax poolside or look for a lucky hand on the card table include:
- Caesar's Palace.
- Circus Circus.
- Flamingo Las Vegas.
- MGM Grand.
The architecture is a dizzying mixture of fanciful facades that mimic exotic locales from around the world and elaborate, almost hypnotising displays made of bright lights. If you were looking for neon, this is the place to be.
You can also go between the resorts using a convenient monorail, if all that time on the road has you feeling ready for a different mode of transportation.
A little Las Vegas history
This storied and fanciful city in the desert started its life as a tiny railroad town in 1905. Things were pretty quiet for a while. Then, in the 1930s, the city expanded due to an influx of out-of-town guests who wanted to take advantage of lenient local divorce laws, and it further grew due to the arrival of construction workers who built the nearby Hoover Dam.
The 1940s saw the first taste of what Las Vegas was to become, as several now-historic resorts and casinos set up shop on the Strip, including Flamingo and Thunderbird. The airfield now known as Nellis Air Force Base was also built during this time.
The 1950s and '60s saw the growth of outside investment in the area from prominent business leaders like Howard Hughes, as well as less reputable enterprises – but more on that later!
In the second half of the 20th century, the metro region experienced explosive growth, frequently being cited as one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States.
Like we said, it might not be right on the Mother Road, but it's definitely worth the trip.
What if I'm not really interested in gambling?
Even if you don't want to try your luck in one of this city's many fine gaming establishments, the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas still has a lot to offer.
This city is widely known as an entertainment destination. Some of the biggest names in pop, rock, country music and R&B participate in "residencies" at specific Las Vegas venues, making a road trip to this city one of the easiest ways to catch some of your favourite acts.
In addition to music, there's a wide variety of other entertainment options here. Magic performances are always in season, as are impressive acrobatic spectacles like Cirque du Soleil or the percussive talents of the Blue Man Group. Popular comedians are also a familiar sight around Las Vegas. In the downtown area, Fremont Street's free light shows on the world's largest video screen offer a dazzling audio and visual experience.
If you're more of the museum type, there's no shortage of places to explore. Some popular options include classic car exhibits and displays of outlandish showbiz memorabilia. Also, remember those less-than-reputable characters we alluded to earlier? Las Vegas is home to the highly regarded Mob Museum. Get the picture?
Want some fresh air? Nature lovers can head down the road to Lake Mead and simply soak in the scenery. Known as the country's first National Recreation Area, outdoor adventurers will have lots to explore among the 1.5 million acres here. Go hiking, take a swim or just admire the beauty of the mountain landscape.
As you can probably tell, we're big believers in Las Vegas. We're sad to say it's not on Route 66 per se, but we're more than happy to take a road trip to this magical town with you anytime.
Ready to hit the road with us? Check out our tours and sign up today.