When looking for an international holiday, you have options. Do you want adventure-filled days filled with activity, culture and exploration? How about great food? Want to speak to your inner child with fast-moving antique cars and motorcycles?
Or, just all of the above? That’s what you get when you traverse the American West on Route 66, the ultimate road trip destination.
Why Route 66 is the best road trip in the world
The best road trip destination in the whole world? Yep, we’re saying it. With thousands of kilometers of expansive landscapes, quaint small town charm, major cities, historic landmarks and quirky roadside attractions, there’s truly something for everyone on this iconic route.
Once thought of as the premier way to travel across the U.S., the Route 66 of today is something of a time capsule — a look back at an America that was rapidly on the move. Designed to connect the rural communities of the American West to larger cities and the potential business opportunities on the Pacific Coast, the path is winding on purpose, making for a driving experience that touches on all kinds of terrain and cultures.
While other road trip destinations are about getting from Point A to Point B, driving historic Route 66 is truly about what’s on the way. What can make the experience even better? Doing it with an experienced touring company and guides.
Some top attractions
From the bright lights of major cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Santa Fe and Los Angeles to the classic neon sign lit gas station, motel or roadside diner of small town America, Route 66 truly has it all. Here are just a few of many highlights:
The start (or finish) of your journey, the Windy City is the ideal place to begin — a true metropolis where you can enjoy a little bit of everything. Snap a picture at the Route 66 start sign and then take the elevator up Willis Tower, which rises 452 metres and was the tallest building in the world from 1973 to 1996, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The rest of the Illinois route also packs plenty of excitement, like the famous Rocks Bridge.
The Gateway Arch
Few monuments are as quintessentially American as St. Louis’ Gateway Arch. Rising high above the mighty Mississippi River, this skyline-defining structure is your clear symbol that you’ve truly entered the American West. The monument was completed in 1965 to serve as a symbol of the diverse people who have shaped American history and westward expansion, according to the National Park Service.
Today, Route 66 adventurers can witness the Gateway Arch from every angle with a tram ride up to the top or disembark on a riverboat, built to look like the steamboats of old.
The Blue Whale of Catoosa
Perhaps the most unique roadside attraction on a driving route that’s filled with them, the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma, is something to behold. This 24-metre-long whale sculpture took two years to build, with most of the work done by just two people.
Today, visitors can either take a guided tour of the whale, or explore the sculpture for themselves, including a secret ladder that goes into the whale’s head. There’s nothing else like this on the entire route.
Meteor Crater and Barringer Space Museum
The natural world has plenty in store for Route 66 travelers. Perhaps one of the wildest is the Meteor Crater. About 50,000 years ago, a massive meteor crashed into the northern Arizona desert, creating a force 150 times greater than an atomic bomb and leaving behind a crater stretching 1.2 kilometers in diameter and reaching as deep as 170 metres beneath the surface. Route 66 adventurers can witness this natural wonder from an air-conditioned viewing area, an observation deck or on a walking tour of the crater’s rim themselves.
The Santa Monica Pier
All good things must come to an end. Celebrate the road trip of a lifetime by taking a dip in the Pacific Ocean, cruising the beaches and restaurants of Santa Monica and taking a picture at the official “End of the Trail” sign.
Planning for your road trip
Planning an undertaking as expansive as a Route 66 road trip can be intimidating — especially if you’re relatively new to this kind of traveling. Before embarking you’ll need to have the answers to a few important questions, including:
- How many nights would you like to be on the road?
- How many hours are you willing to drive each day?
- What stops along the way are “must see” for you?
- What stops would you like to see, if your schedule permits?
- How many stops do you think you’ll want to take each day?
- Where will you be eating and stopping for gas (gaps between each gas station can be wide in some parts)?
- Will you be taking any detours
Basing your planning on the answer to these questions will give you a good framework from which to build out an itinerary.
In addition to trying your best to plan out each day, while still allowing room for a little spontaneity and flexibility, be sure to think ahead about what you need to pack. Some oft-neglected suggestions include plenty of extra food and water, rain gear (even in the dry Southwestern U.S.) and navigation materials, like a Route 66 Atlas, in case you lose GPS reception.
Why choose Route 66 Tours
When you ride or drive with Route 66 Tours, you take much of the guesswork out of the journey, while still maintaining the flexibility to experience the parts of Mother Road that you are interested in. Any Route 66 road trip can be tailored to provide you with the ideal experience. Our trips are meticulously planned, and no two adventure tours are ever the same. If there’s something you’re interested in seeing as a part of your tour — whether the majestic Grand Canyon or one of the old route’s unique roadside attractions, just ask any experienced Aussie tour leader!
We have decades of experience travelling and organising tours throughout North America, and specifically across Route 66. By keeping the tours self-driving and personalised, our Route 66 tour clients have the flexibility to travel their way. You can look forward to an incredible 20 nights trip from Chicago to Las Vegas, exploring the best antique cars, roadside attractions, historic places and natural features that America has to offer.
At Route 66 Tours, we want to give you an authentic experience travelling through this unique part of the world. For more information, visit https://route66tours.com.au/Why-Route-66.