On the Road: Iconic Stops on Route 66

On the Road: Iconic Stops on Route 66
A car wreck at the rebuilt Cool Springs station in California's Mojave Desert, Photo Credit: Nick Fox/Shutterstock.com

66 is the number of....the Mother Road in the US of A. And we've fixed a whole visual tour for all you road-trip lovers out there

Prannay Pathak
October 29 , 2020
14 Min Read

What's that one epic cultural phenomenon that unites the animated film franchise Cars, John Steinbeck's Great Depression novel The Grapes of Wrath, trailblazing folk musician Woody Guthrie, jazz legend Nat King Cole and the video game Grand Theft Auto, with the fascination of generations over a century? It's undoubtedly Route 66. And this list is just off the top of our head.

The iconic Route 66 passes through eight US states, giving the traveller a big, fat slice of the America one sees, sings and reads about. Deserted gas stations, highway diners with neon lights, and seedy motels all out of a David Fincher movie—the Mother Road is a veritable mother lode of road-trippin' inspiration and we're here to spoil you folks with the best of the sights you'll ever witness on a trip like this. 

Bob's Gasoline Alley, Cuba, Missouri
Sign-tology!Everybody likes to collect something. For businessman and Route 66 enthusiast Bob Mullen, it was the old-time outdoor advertising signs and gasoline brand labels he would often see on this road. His massive gas station and 50s memorabilia collection is now housed in Bob's Gasoline Alley in Cuba, Missouri. 

The Gemini Giant, Wilmington, Illinois
From the future of the past?This more futuristic of the long line of 'muffler men' strewn all over the USA in the 60s, now can be found at the eastern entrance to Wilmington, Illinois, on Route 66. These advertising statues made of fibreglass were designed on the lines of lumberjacks found in North American folklore. This gentleman here, however, underwent a makeover a brief while ago, when he was given a retro green jumpsuit and matching silver shoes and space-style helmet. Unlike his former axe-toting self, Gemini Man has been handed a rocket that bears the name of the diner he's supposed to be advertising.

Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch

 
 
 
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Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch! No entrance fee just a donation ðŸ‘ÂÂÂÂÂÂŒ🏻 An Instagramable place to quick stop on your way or back from Vegas...although it was really hot...it’s totally worth it!

A post shared by 𝗞𝗮𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗮 (@katthhhrina_) on Jun 23, 2020 at 12:17am PDT

Located in Oro Grande off the National Trails Highway, this forest of 'trees' strung with glass bottles, guns, wheel frames, exhaust fans, typewriters and sundry objects is a must-stop for anyone journeying on the Route 66. The creation is the result of inventive scrap artist Elmer Long's passion and hard work. The premises also house a wishing well and the colour and vintage kitsch makes it an Instagrammer heaven.

Oatman, Arizona
The iconic Oatman Hotel
The Arizona ghost town of Oatman is right out of a western and is said to have yielded $10 million worth of gold in 1915! Don't let the adorable jackasses casually strolling around like shapeshifting sheriffs, convince you otherwise. Also, the Oatman hotel and restaurant is the very property where, in 1939, Hollywood couple Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their wedding night.

Calico, San Bernadino, California
Just like in a westernAnother ghost town and former mining prodigy that stands like a mirage in the desert for those journeying on Route 66, Calico offers a theme park experience, with restaurants and saloons like in the late 19th century. This sheriff's office sure looks like a place to have a shootout (the right kind, may we maintain) with your pals. 

Blue Whale, Catoosa, Oklahoma
A blue whale you'll gladly walk into the mouth of
This is a blue whale challenge one would never mind taking up. One of the most iconic and recognisable pitstops, the waterfront structure was built by Tulsa zoologist and nature enthusiast Hugh Davis in 1972 as an anniversary gift for his wife and also as a happy swimming accessory for the neighbourhood children. 

The first McDonald's, San Bernardino, California
Where it all began
Burger lovers on a crazy quest to find the antecedents of the loved fast food chain will end up in San Bernardino, and just going on a trip down Route 66 is a great way to do that. The M can be spotted from far away, and as one drives up to the vintage front of the outlet, which is now a museum housing McD memorabilia and ephemera from all over the world, it becomes eminently clear that it is worth stopping and checking the place out. 

Seligman, Arizona

 
 
 
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The famous Seligman Sundries. On the day we went there were many charter buses full of foreign tourists all there to see the town Radiator Springs from Cars was based off of. #roadtripusa #southwest #arizona #instagramaz #exploreaz #visitaz #visitarizona #arizonacollective #igersaz #igsouthwest #sonyalphasclub #sonya6300 #sonyalpha #explorearizona  #sonyimages #adventureculture  #route66 #historicroute66 #getyourkicksonroute66 #seligman #arizonahighways #seligmanarizona #themotherroad #seligmansundries #vintagecars

A post shared by Dan Mocan (@dmo412) on Dec 6, 2016 at 1:36pm PST

So, this is where the Cars reference belonged. The little Arizona town of Seligman was what inspired Radiator Springs in the Pixar franchise. Today, the charm has been distilled into the roadside eatery and convenience store called Historic Seligman Sundries. Cars from the film, some nice Java, and souvenirs, this fun coffee shop has it all.

Pops, Arcadia, Oklahoma

 
 
 
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A new look at an Oklahoma classic ðŸ‘ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂŒ🏼 #oklifestyle . 📸 @bdbowman92 . #oklahoma #oklahomaphotography #myoklahoma #popsoklahoma #route66 #popsroute66 #pops #arcadiaok #oklahomacity #okc #oklahome #oklahomie #oklamerica #boomersooner #gasstation #oklahomaok #oklahomausa

A post shared by Oklahoma Lifestyle (@oklahomalifestyle) on Sep 9, 2017 at 6:28am PDT

Another increasingly recognisable modern-day attraction on Route 66 that is also 66 feet high, the giant neon sign of the nearby diner is a hit on social media. The diner specialises in soda pop bottles, which are a theme for the establishment, and has a stylish cantilevered roof that extends for about 100 feet over the forecourt and the parking area.

Cadillac Ranch, Texas

 
 
 
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A post shared by Trevor (@creatureintheparks) on Oct 25, 2020 at 5:47pm PDT

The dynamic middle-of-the-road art installation that changes everytime someone spray-paints their own thing on the Cadillacs half-buried in dusty Amarillo in Texas, is the brainchild of eccentric artist Stanley Marsh 3. The iconic installation was intended as an open henge-style monument to the golden age of the American automobile. If you're going down Route 66 and don't mind a little fun, pack in a spray can. But as you leave after having left your impression on the Cadillacs, don't forget to clean up after yourself! 

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
A vintage car that is now a relic - at the Petrified Forest National Park
This is one joke that is asking to be made: Well, we don't mind being petrified in this way. The Petrified Forest National Park is the only national park that Route 66 passes and hence the opportunity should be made the most of. Just park your vehicle and take a leisurely hike into the backcountry, witnessing relics and natural scenery on the way. 

Santa Monica Pier, California

 
 
 
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Are you a dawn person or a dusk person? Both are pretty magical on the pier, if you ask us âÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂœ¨âÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂœ¨âÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂœ¨ 📸 @dannydemarcos

A post shared by Santa Monica Pier (@santamonicapier) on Sep 22, 2020 at 4:07pm PDT

Call it the beginning or the end of Route 66, but hardly has anything ever been as much of a rage as the Santa Monica Pier. Food, sunsets, amusement park rides and plenty of walks to take around the area—you'll be spoilt for sure. 

La Cita, Tucumcari, New Mexico

 
 
 
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Tucumcari NM 2016 #tbt #route66 #tucumcari

A post shared by John O'Neill (@jfpo) on Oct 22, 2020 at 2:36pm PDT


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