One of the most exhilarating things about tearing down the highway on Route 66 is the opportunity to encounter so many different parts of America.
In fact, did you know that Mother Road passes through eight different states? It's true. When you drive the full length of this famous highway, you'll see sites in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Read on to learn more about the states you'll see on this national tour.
Illinois: The Land of Lincoln
The road that eventually earned the designation Route 66 begins in Chicago, the largest city in Illinois, and the third largest in the entire country.
Starting near the shores of Lake Michigan, the Mother Road meanders diagonally across the Prairie State to the border of Missouri near St. Louis. On the way, it passes by the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac.
Though he wasn't born here, the 16th president of the United States established his professional and political career in the state. Route 66 winds through Springfield, the state capital, where you'll find the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library.
Missouri: The Show-Me State
Across the mighty Mississippi River from Illinois sits the historic city of St. Louis. From the banks of the river, Route 66 cuts southwest across the state, passing through the towns of Springfield (yes, a different Springfield!) and Joplin.
Missouri was admitted to the union in 1821, and convenient locations to visit along Route 66 include the famed Meramec Caverns, where tourists can get a look at the former hideout of legendary outlaw Jesse James, and the murals of a small town called Cuba.
Historic sites along the way include the George Washington Carver National Monument outside Joplin, and farther afield in the state, you could visit the birthplaces of former president Harry S. Truman and famed American author Mark Twain.
Kansas: The Sunflower State
If you're not paying attention, you'll miss Route 66's quick 20-kilometre detour through the southeast corner of Kansas. This state was admitted to the union in 1861, which were turbulent times for the country, with the Civil War just ahead. Today, the city of Wichita in Kansas is known far and wide as an aviation leader.
Roadside attractions along Route 66 in Kansas can be found in the sleepy hamlets of Galena and Baxter Springs. Visitors can soak in the ambiance of old-fashioned service stations and restaurants that make you feel like you're riding down the highway during its heyday.
Oklahoma: The Sooner State
Literary fans exploring Route 66 will appreciate their time in Oklahoma. After all, it was from this state that the Joad family disembarked for sunny California in John Steinbeck's famous novel "The Grapes of Wrath." Fleeing the Dust Bowl, these migrants journeyed down Route 66 in search of new opportunities.
The highway cuts through Tulsa and Oklahoma City on its way to the Texas Panhandle, covering nearly 650 kilometres in this state. With plenty of spots for going fishing and camping, taking in the state's musical history or appreciating its legacy of outlaws, there's no shortage of things to do on or off the trail.
Texas: The Lone Star State
"Don't mess with Texas." Have you heard that one before? Keep it in mind, and make sure not to drop any rubbish on the road when you're driving through the state where "everything's bigger."
Though it may be the largest state in the U.S. mainland by area, Route 66 cuts straight east to west across Texas' more sparsely populated panhandle.
You may be a long way away from major cities like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, but you'll ride through bustling Amarillo before you cross the state line into Arizona.
Stop in for a slice of apple pie at the Mid-Point Cafe in Adrian. Celebrate that you've made it halfway from Chicago to the end of Route 66 in Los Angeles.
New Mexico: Welcome to the Scenic American Southwest
The original path of Route 66 took you through Santa Fe, but the city was later bypassed when the route was realigned.
Still, there's no shortage of scenic views, on or off the highway, in New Mexico. From tiny Tucumucari to Gallup and Albuquerque, the highway is lined with neon restaurant signs, beckoning you to sample one of the most distinctive regional cuisines America has to offer.
Former prospecting boomtowns, many of which are now long since abandoned, dot the desert landscape, while indigenous communities have sustained themselves here for centuries.
Arizona: The Grand Canyon State
The Southwestern vistas continue to roll by your windshield as you cross the border into Arizona. Here, the highway coasts across an east-west expanse in the northern portion of the state. You'll encounter towns like Holbrook, Winona, Flagstaff and Kingman along the way.
Of course, Arizona is known as the home of the Grand Canyon, one of the most marvellous natural spectacles America has to offer. It's well worth hooking north from Flagstaff for a visit.
The natural landscape will be vying for your attention on the one hand while retro businesses like martini lounges straight out of a bygone era seek to lure you in with their neon glow.
California: So Much More Than Hollywood
Before your trip ends in the bustling traffic of busy Los Angeles, there's still so much to explore on Route 66 in California as you zigzag through Needles, Barstow and San Bernardino.
Famous for the 1849 gold rush, there's always been something glittery about California. Today, Northern California is known as a major hub of the global tech industry, while Southern California is widely known for the entertainment industry, perhaps best represented by Hollywood.
From the seat of your bike, though, you might be more impressed riding through the Mojave Desert and the San Gabriel Mountains.
When you drive Route 66, you're travelling through America's national heartland into the deserts of the Southwest. Ready to sign up for this once-in-a-lifetime experience? Take a look at our tours today.