Our look at key landmarks on Route 66 heads west to Texas, on our way to Santa Monica, California. From The Windy City of Chicago to the Pacific Coast, Route 66 is a wonderful way to explore America. The historic highway runs past once-forgotten monuments, oddball landmarks, awesome natural scenery and honest-to-goodness small town charm.
Will Rogers Highway, Main Street of America, Mother Road – whatever you call U.S. Route 66, the almost 4,000 km highway is the original home of the road trip and a quintessential American ritual. Here are some more landmarks to make the journey worthwhile and satisfy chronic wanderlust.
A museum devoted entirely to barbed wire? Only on Route 66. A strange and wonderful little curiosity in the Texas Panhandle, time capsule town of McLean.
About half the size of McLean with less than 600 people, Groom, Texas has two notable and off-the-wall attractions on Route 66: a massive cross that can be seen more than 30 km away and a leaning water tower.
With close to 200,000 people, Amarillo is as big a city you will find on Route 66 for a long stretch. Two of the most popular attractions in town are on the historic highway. Cadillac Ranch and The Big Texan Steak Ranch, home of the famous 72 ounce steak challenge, are Amarillo staples. The Big Texan Steak Ranch has a hotel pool in the shape of the Lone Star State.
A popular dive destination and SCUBA fave, Santa Rosa, New Mexico has a cool Route 66 landmark. The Blue Hole has a diameter of 80 feet but spans more than 130 feet at the bottom. A great reason to bring your swim trunks on your Route 66 road trip.
One of the most scenic and unusual National Parks in America, Petrified Forest is a perfect first stop in Arizona on Route 66. The park covers 885 square km and has some phenomenal sites like Agate House – a Pueblo structure from the year 900 – the Painted Desert and cave walls with Native petroglyphs.
About 70 km from Flagstaff, Arizona is a meteorite impact crater worth a stop on Route 66. Barringer is 1.2 km in diameter and is one of the most pristine, intact meteor craters on the planet.
Ghost towns really do exist. Travel by major highways and you will never see one in person however. Take Route 66 and you can witness one firsthand, on the Navajo Reservation of Coconino County, Arizona. The sad remains of Canyon Diablo and the former town of Two Guns are truly relics of a bygone age.
With less than 500 people, Seligman, Arizona is another in a long line of tiny towns that dot Route 66. The Pixar film Cars takes place in a town much like Seligman, which after the construction of Interstate 40, fell into disrepair. Now home to more Route 66 memorabilia than anywhere in the United States, the town is a popular pit stop once more.
Once you hit Santa Monica, California, your Route 66 road trip has come to a beautiful end. The city’s historic pier is a magnificent final landmark, with Pacific Park, Muscle Beach, Santa Monica State Beach and the original 1946 Hot Dog on a Stick. Get a corn dog and lemonade and enjoy the view.
From Santa Monica, you can explore Los Angeles and the beautiful Pacific Coast. Just remember to find the Will Rogers Highway marker before you drive off to make your Route 66 road trip complete.
Check out superb rates on hotels all over America.