Route 66

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Travel Guide United States Route 66

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Introduction

Historic Route 66 Motel, Seligman, Arizona

Historic Route 66 Motel, Seligman, Arizona

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

Route 66 is probably the most imaginative route there is in the United States. Route 66 was established in 1926 and officially removed from the US Highway System in 1985, but keeps being popular among people wanting to travel as much of the original route by car or motorcycle. Route 66 basically was not just one simple road between Chicago and Los Angeles. Instead, constant changes over the years meant that routes and total length constantly changed. But during the years, Route 66 at least was recognisable as a road that you could actually follow all the way towards the west coast of the USA.

Nowadays, it is much more difficult to travel this route. Parts of the road are now designated a National Scenic Byway or are named Historic Route 66, and are perfect for those who want to combine a more modern roadtrip to the USA with some historical background by following as many parts of the original Route 66.

The traditional start of Route 66 is near downtown Chicago by the train station. It is possible to eat at a restaurant that claims to be the first (or last) restaurant on the road depending on which way you're going. One of the longest and most popular stretches travels between Kingman and Seligman in Arizona, making a loop northwards from Interstate 40 and passing several smaller villages. Great vintage signs, some diners and motels can still be found on this stretch of historic Route 66.

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States and Cities

The original Route 66 runs from near the train station in Chicago, Illinois, through the states of Missouri, Kansas (5 miles!), Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, before ending in Los Angeles. Later on, the official ending was removed from downtown LA to Santa Monica at the Pacific coast.

It goes beyond the scope of this article to mention all cities along the way, but some of the main ones are:

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Sights and Activities

Although Route 66 is a major sight itself, there are plenty of places to visit along the way. Many of the cities and towns have at least things to keep the Route 66 dream alive, but there are loads of sights and activities in other places as well. For more information, it is best to read the articles about the specific places and states. In general, the western half of Route 66 is the best regarding landscapes, nature, open skies and far vistas and it also has the most quirky places to stay and eat (see below). If you can only do parts of Route 66, make sure that you travel this part, for example between Amarillo and Los Angeles.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

By Plane

The main gateways are the Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. Other options include Chicago Midway International Airport and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, but you can also fly to airports relatively near places along Route 66, like San Diego International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, Kansas City International Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

By Train

Both Chicago and Los Angeles have train stations and Amtrak operates trains on a number of routes. Some of them also run between these two places. There are also connections to/from Los Angeles along almost the entire Pacific coastline between San Diego and Seattle/Vancouver, and to/from Chicago there are connections west towards New York and south towards New Orleans, with many places in between. Visit the website for details about prices and schedules.

By Car

A good system of Interstates and Highways connects places along Route 66 with the rest of the country.

By Bus

Most of the places along Route 66 have connections by bus. Your best bet is to check Greyhound, which has the most extensive network, some of the routes in addition to Amtrak trains.

By Boat

Although both Chicago and Los Angeles are at or near the water, not much useful connections are available. There are no ferry services to/from Chicago, and the ones to/from Los Angeles are to the Channel Islands and Santa Catalina island, about an hour out of the coastline and leaving from places like Long Beach or Ventura.

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Getting Around

Historic Route 66

Historic Route 66

© All Rights Reserved Utrecht

Of course, as Route 66 is a road itself, the only way to get around basically is by car or motorcycle. You might choose to take the bicycle of course, but although it's surely a healthy way of travelling, this is not what Route 66 is all about. If you can, hire a motorcycle or, even better, an old American vintage car from the 1950's or 1960's. Otherwise, a relatively new convertible is another decent option, for example a Corvette or Mustang. But let's face it: any car will can handle the easy tarmac roads, so renting one with the major car rental companies like Hertz, Thrifty, Avis, Alamo, Budget, National, Dollar or Enterprise will suffice. Carefully check all the details about renting a car of course, especially all the extra costs regarding insurance, extra drivers and most importantly one-way dropoff costs. Usually these dropoff costs are cheapest with National, about US$250 regardless of the miles travelled. If you travel all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles, this saves you lots of money.

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Sleep

There are dozens of cities and towns along Route 66, so it's best to check the respective places for a full list of places. There are, however, a few that really stand out and are totally in line with what Route 66 is all about these days: vintage style, old cars, history and quirky places. A few examples are:

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Route 66 Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Route 66

This is version 5. Last edited at 11:06 on Jun 14, 19 by Utrecht. 26 articles link to this page.

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