Route 66 road trip! Recommendations welcome!

So my mother-in-law is moving out to live with us, which means we’ll be spending Thanksgiving with her in So. Illinois, and then flying her out to her new home in the Bay Area, where she’ll be picked up by my brother-in-law (her son). Meanwhile, my wife and I will be driving her car back to NorCal.

Now in the past, we’ve driven out there using the Colorado/Wyoming/Utah etc. method, but since this will be in late Nov., we’re going to need to take a more southern route, which makes 66 ideal (we’d be joining it in St. Louis, which is just a hop-skip from where she currently lives).

Although we won’t be driving all the way to LA (we’re likely to head north once we hit CA), we’ll be taking in a sizable chunk of this legendary highway. We’re not in any rush to get back, but we do want to make good time while still taking in some of the classic Americana locales. What are some of the can’t miss eateries, tourist traps, B&Bs, natural wonders, or other essential stops along this 2100-mile trek?

Two good books to read/take along: Route 66 The Mother Road by Michael Wallis, and the Route 66 Traveler’s Guide by Tom Synder.

Wallis’ book has some really nice photography, well-written history, and stories from the road. Snyder gives turn-turn directions (caveat: it was published in 2000), and a few stories as well. I took the California trip in back in 2002, what a blast! I think I liked the stretch through Missouri best. I loved Meramec Caverns, with their home-spun tours. Further down The Road in Springfield is another scooby underground attraction, Fantastic Caverns. It’s the only “ride-through” cave tour I’ve ever been on, a classic under-the-roadside attraction.

A place in Arcadia, Oklahoma just opened up a few months ago, and it is getting rave reviews and tons of press. Pops is quickly becoming famous for the very, very wide variety of hard-to-find and obscure sodas. The food is also supposed to be good.

My husband and I plan on making a drive up there soon.

Many of the “Route 66” motels around here aren’t exactly the type of places that tourists stay at, if you know what I mean. The better motels are the chains on far east central or near the airport.

Here’s a link to the Bottger Mansion, a local Bed and Breakfast type place located in Old Town. I’m not sure what their prices run.

The Frontier is a restaurant locally famous for its cinnamon rolls and cowboy art so you might want to check it out. There are plenty of quaint old buildings in the university and downtown areas–here’s a link to one, the Kimo Theater.

There’s also Sandia Peak and the petroglyphs if you’re into natural wonders.

Visit Oatman, but don’t let the ass in the door hit you on your way out.

I forgot to add that Seligman is a must-stop. Sadly, Juan Delgadillo isn’t around to squirt fake mustard at you anymore from behind the counter at the Sno Cap. His brother Angel is still around at the barber/giftshop next door, though. Make a point to go in to say hello and shake his hand.

If you’re doing homage to Route 66, try the Devil’s Rope Museum. It’s a museum dedicated to barbed wire, but wait! There’s more! It also has the Route 66 Museum housed inside. Not a bad collection of lots of period Route 66 memorabilia.

In St. Louis, stop for a concrete at the Ted Drewes stand on Chippewa (which was one of the actual U.S. 66 routes.)

We did this three years ago leaving from St. Louis. Too bad you can’t stay in the Coral Court motel. One of our biggest regrets is that we never did a one nighter there. :smack: You should probably stop at the Rt 66 museum right before the Merimac River on I 44 just west of St. Louis. You get off at Lewis Road. It’s the park they made out of the town that was condemned because the roads had been sprayed with dioxin.

Driving down the old road is fun. We used a set of maps that told you where to get off the interstate and get on the old road. Many times we were the only ones on the old rt for miles but could still see the new interstate from our car. It was a very relaxing trip. In other places you can see the weed covered old road from the new highway. It’s kind of funky that the original rt 66 had curbs and gutters.

Mo. has a lot of good bits of the old road. Oklahoma has the most of old RT 66 still intact. We stayed in one of the motels featured in one of the guide books in Ok. I think it cost $45. Little strip of sanitary paper around the toilet, tiny soaps, etc. Got pictures of it somewhere.

Don’t miss the teepees, and the dinosaurs, and the totem poles, and car-henge. A nice side trip that actually follows the old trail but on the new highway goes up to Santa Fe. If you go that way stop by 10,000 waves spa. Rent the private outdoor jacuzzi with the cold plunge pool, it’s big enough for you and 10 of your best friends. Then get a hot and cold stone massage. You’ll need it after driving that far!
The public pool is clothing optional. :cool:

Mrsin and I owned a house on the old rt in Dwight, Il. back in the 70’s. Dwight was the last town on 44, 55, 66 to have a stop light before the route went totally interstate. Back in our college days we always referred to it as the last stop light before Chicago. Oh and the woman’s prison is located there and signs are posted saying “Don’t pick up woman hitch-hikers” hehehe.

Have fun, drive slow.

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo.

Midway Cafe in Adrian.

Don’t forget Winona.

What he said. The hotels on Route 66 in ABQ are uh…hourly.

The Frontier’s not bad at all and the rolls are to die for. I’d recommend going a little further down the street to The Flying Star as well…their chicken pot pie is heaven.

I’d also suggest seeing Acoma Sky City (not the casino).

See the recent Pixar movie Cars, a love letter to Route 66.

Go through St. Louis, Joplin, Missouri, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Gallup, New Mexico, Flagstaff, Arizona (don’t forget Winona), Kingman, Barstow and San Bernardino.

I can’t go to the website, (I’m <snerk> working) but is that near the Round Barn? Did they ever restore that?

You should probably stop at the Route 66 museum in Clinton Oklahoma.

All you need to know.

I know they did at some point - I remember going there as a child (about 15-20 years ago) and looking around, watching some old people square dance. I don’t recall hearing that it fell into disuse or anything, so it may not have needed it in that time if it was kept up.

Now that we know what dates we’re travelling (11/20-26), I’m giving this a bump…

Thanks for the suggestions so far! :slight_smile:

A little self-serving history of Route 66.

Because, y’know, Oklahoma City is mighty pretty. :stuck_out_tongue:

I second Elendil’s Heir. See Cars. Whatever you think of Disney/Pixar, Cars was beautifully rendered and smartly written.