When people hear the name “Route 66,” they often immediately envision old drive-ins movie theaters, greasy-finger-licking burgers, and odd roadside attractions. This popular RV road-tripper's dream is a 2,500-mile highway that runs from Chicago, Illinois to L.A., California offer these things, and so a ton more. Along with the many natural landmarks, such as the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest, it offers a slice of kitschy Americana.
When the road became paved in 1926, it was quick to become the most popular road trip option in the U.S. Even though it's no longer considered a road, it's still the quintessential RVer's paradise. Here are a few of the quirkiest and (in my opinion) most interesting attractions.
The Gemini Giant—the 30-foot-tall, bright green statue—that stands in front of what previously was the Launching Pad Drive-In located in Wilmington, IL is one of the first stops on a road trip down Route 66. Collinsville has the remains of one of the largest prehistoric cities north of Mexico. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site consists of 100 earthen mounds of up to 14-acres long and 100-feet tall. Then on a lighter side, it also has the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle. Brooks Catsup Company constructed this 170-foot-high water tower decorated as a catsup bottle.
One of the first major attractions to exist along Route 66 was Meramec Caverns near Stanton, MO. This set of limestone caves was first opened to the public in 1935. A mix of cave and kitsch, the caverns provide a real Route 66 experience. For example, at the end of evening, there's even a sound and light show and a zip-line along the river.
Near Hannibal, MO tourists can visit Mark Twain National Forest-probably the most beautiful part of Missouri Route 66, and the Precious Moments Chapel is located near Carthage.
A good portion of the Oklahoma section of the road-trip is a one-lane-wide rural highway. However, a keen eye will find the Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo, "World’s Largest Calf Fry Festival and Cook-Off," “World’s Largest Fried Onion Hamburger,” the giant "Blue Whale," and the "Oklahoma Route 66 Museum." These are some of the most noteworthy attractions.
Then, you arrive in Texas…and Cadillac Ranch. This is the ultimate piece of Route 66 installment art, and a memorable monument worldwide. This road-trip "shrine," created in 1974, features several classic Cadillacs buried in a Stonehenge-style configuration. Plus, there's all the Texas-style bar-be-que.
Sandstone mesas, Tee-Pee Curios, and Tinkertown miniatures, New Mexico has a bit of this and that. One of the oddest attractions, however is the Blue Hole. This 80-foot-wide, 80-foot-deep hole just naturally fills with water. At 61-degree Fahrenheit, it’s generally considered a little too cold for swimming.
This part of the highway is usually considered the most beautiful. Sliding Rock Park, Indian trading posts, Petrified Forest, and Painted Desert, Meteor Crater, the trip between Flagstaff and Sedona, Wupatki National Monument—the list goes on to include the Grand Canyon—let me repeat—the GRAND Canyon.
The California attractions basically include old Hollywood Sunset Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. Passing by renowned Paramount Studios, it concludes at Venice Beach on Ocean Avenue.
Probably one of the best things about taking a Route 66 trip in an RV is that it passes through much of the most scenic parts of the country AND most of them have spacious accommodations for big rigs. Although, the best days of Route 66 may have passed, from kitschy shops of oddities and notoriously tasty burger joints to some of the most magnificent natural scenery in the country, you can still “get your kicks on Route 66.” and check out the “Mother Road"!
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