If you were to ask someone in the United States to name the first road to come to mind, it would almost undoubtedly be Route 66. The highway which stretches all the way from the Chicago, Illinois area to Santa Monica, California has had songs written about it and plenty of movies and television shows filmed on it, as well.
Though it’s no longer the only major way to get from the central part of the country toward the west coast thanks to the advent of the Interstate Highway System, Route 66 remains a piece of Americana that many travel from around the world to see for themselves. If you’re making the trip and want to get your kicks along Route 66, here are the five best attractions to see along the way.
1. Cadillac Ranch
In Amarillo Texas, along the 2,448-mile stretch of road that makes up Route 66, lies an intriguing art installation called Cadillac Ranch. Artists Hudson Marquez, Chip Lord, and Doug Michels formed a group they named Ant Farm in 1974.
The group of artists took ten Cadillacs, splattered with an array of colors, buried front-first in the ground in a line reminiscent of the pyramids of Giza. Tourists and artists alike stop and take in the view of the interesting piece of art while on their way down the historic highway.
2. Wigwam Motel
The historic Wigwam Motel along Route 66 is listed as being located in Rialto California, although its physical address is in the bordering city of Rialto California. The motel chain was constructed between the 1930s and 1940s, made to look like a group of tipis, tents often used by indigenous people many years ago.
Although referred to as the Wigwam Motel, wigwams are mostly wooden structures built in a dome shape. The motels underwent renovations in the early 2000s and are a popular destination for tourists. In 2012 they were listed under the National Register of Historic Places.
3. Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica California is the last stop or commonly referred to as the “end of the trail”, on the western side of the historic Route 66. There lies the Santa Monica Pier, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. The pier is a wonderful spot to end your trip or to take a break before making your way back East.
There’s a small attraction, Pacific Park, within the pier, with a carousel, arcade, solar-powered Ferris wheel, and a roller coaster. There are also food vendors, places to fish, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, and much more to provide entertainment and fun while you’re traveling the iconic highway.
The tiny town of Seligman has a lot of history behind it. It also just so happens to be the inspiration behind Pixar’s animated film, Cars. In the heart of Route 66 is the barbershop owned by the man who founded the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, of which Seligman was the first to become a part.
The following year, the rest of Route 66 joined. Angel Delgadillo is the barber whose foundation and stories became the inspiration for Cars creator John Lasseter. The stretch of road is adorned with the old barber shop turned gift shop and is a must-see for those passing through.
5. Oklahoma Route 66 Museum
The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, located in the city of Clinton, is one of many museums along the stretch of highway that is dedicated to its history. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm and charges a small entry fee.
The museum has a retro look and feels to it, transporting you to the days when the highway was first hailed as the “Mother Road” and scattered with attractions. It’s THE place to get your fill of knowledge and come as close to the retro experience as possible.