Passing through cities and towns, crossing over rivers and lakes, and connecting the west coast of the United States to the great Lake Michigan near the Canadian border, Route 66 is arguably one of the most popular transcontinental highways in the world.
Established in 1926 and covering a total of 2,448 miles, the road has long served the communities through which it passes, enticing excited travellers into the various towns and cities populating the famous route.
In this article, we will explore some of the unmissable locations and destinations that make up this famous road, putting together a comprehensive travel guide which help you to truly get your kicks on Route 66.
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is usually the first stop for most Route 66 travellers, as it marks the first major settlement along the famous road. Located on the Mississippi River, the city is a melting pot of culture, history, music, and sport, offering a huge variety of engaging experiences that can really help to capture the imagination of travellers, even after a lengthy drive.
The perfect combination of natural and urban beauty, St. Louis offers scenic walks around some of the city’s most popular parks and gardens, as well as some unforgettable tours of the St. Louis Science Centre, or the Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. The crown jewel of St. Louis, however, is the iconic Gateway Arch. Visitors are able to take a 630-foot ride to the top of the structure, which offers sensational panoramic views of the whole city.
The Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum, Illinois
If you are wanting to gain a real and authentic understanding of the history and folklore of the world’s most famous road, Illinois’ Hall of Fame Museum dedicated to the highway provides a perfect insight.
The museum transports you back to a time when Route 66 was the most important road in the United States, responsible for much of the country’s trade, tourism, and travel, during a period when the motor vehicle was the most effective mode of transnational transportation.
The museum is home to a number of important and historic items of memorabilia, telling the story of the glory days of the Mother Road, helping passers-through to really engage with the legacy of the famous highway.
Santa Monica Pier, California
The sunny start, or potentially the beautiful end, of your journey down the famous Route 66, the famous Santa Monica Pier is a must see attraction, and one you should certainly devote some time to in your American adventure.
The pier is home to Santa Monica’s iconic big wheel, offering panoramic views of the luscious Santa Monica beach, as well as an historic carousel and amusement park that can really inject some youthful fun and energy into your tour.
There are also a number of American diners and restaurants located across the pier, inviting tourists and travellers to truly immerse themselves in Californian dining and culture, with the wide variety of accessible and immersive activities and experiences the pier is able to offer.
The Meramec Caverns
The Meramec Caverns are a series of interconnected cave systems stretching for around 4.6 miles in the Ozarks, Missouri. The beautiful by-product of millions of years worth of erosion to limestone deposits beneath the earth’s surface, the Caverns are one of the most popular attractions along Route 66, offering guided tours for interested tourists, and a sensational light show that illuminates the rock formations in dynamic and exciting ways.
With a number of individually named structures within the famous Cavern providing a truly unique caving experience, the attraction draws in around 150,000 tourists per year, making it the most-visited cave in Missouri.
Alongside the various guided tours the experience offers, there are a number of engaging activities for all age groups, including zip lining, wall-climbing, and scenic river excursions.
Rialto Square Theatre, Illinois
Transporting you back to the Jazz Age of America, the age of drinking and debauchery, and the time of class and elegance, the Rialto Square Theatre, our final selection for this guide, originally opened as a vaudeville movie palace in 1926, brings the perfect dose of style and culture to our North American adventure.
Built in the Neo-Baroque style that dominated continental Europe in the late-19th century, and naturally came to prominence shortly after across the Atlantic, the theatre is adorned with impressive glass chandeliers, intricately painted murals, and spectacular gold-flecked marble pillars.
Entering this truly graceful building is like stepping into the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and setting foot in the ornate halls of one of his most famous characters, Jay Gatsby. The theatre now regularly shows concerts, musicals, plays, and stand-up comedy, offering a wide and enticing variety of options for potential punters.
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