Route 66, often referred to as the “Main Street of America,” is one of the most legendary and iconic highways in the United States. Stretching over 2,400 miles from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, this historic route has captured the imagination of travelers for generations. As you journey from Oklahoma to the end of the trail in California, you’ll encounter a rich tapestry of landscapes, attractions, and nostalgia that define the American road trip experience.
Oklahoma: The Start of the Journey
Your Route 66 adventure begins in Oklahoma, where you’ll find an array of attractions and roadside gems. Some must-see stops include:
- Tulsa: Visit the Cyrus Avery Plaza and admire the famous Meadow Gold Sign. Explore the Tulsa Art Deco Museum and take in the city’s rich architectural history.
- Oklahoma City: Discover the Oklahoma City National Memorial, honoring the victims of the 1995 bombing. Don’t miss the Milk Bottle Grocery, a beloved Route 66 landmark.
Texas: The Lone Star State
As you cross into Texas, you’ll encounter the vastness of the state and its unique Route 66 landmarks:
- Amarillo: Stop by the Cadillac Ranch, a roadside art installation featuring a row of half-buried Cadillacs. Marvel at the Big Texan Steak Ranch, known for its 72-ounce steak challenge.
- Shamrock: Explore the historic U-Drop Inn, a striking Art Deco building that has been restored to its former glory.
New Mexico: Land of Enchantment
New Mexico offers a change of scenery and a glimpse into Native American culture:
- Tucumcari: Visit the Blue Swallow Motel, a classic Route 66 lodging option, and enjoy the vibrant murals that adorn the town.
- Albuquerque: Explore Old Town Albuquerque, where you can shop for Native American crafts and dine in historic adobe buildings.
Arizona: Desert Wonders
In Arizona, the landscapes become more arid, and you’ll encounter some of Route 66’s most iconic attractions:
- Winslow: Stand on the corner made famous by the Eagles’ song “Take It Easy” and take a photo with the bronze statue of Glenn Frey.
- Petrified Forest National Park: Marvel at the otherworldly landscapes and ancient petrified trees in this unique national park.
- Flagstaff: Discover the historic downtown area and consider a side trip to the stunning Grand Canyon, which is not far from Route 66.
California: The End of the Road
Finally, you’ll reach California, where the palm trees and Pacific Ocean await:
- Needles: Take a dip in the refreshing waters of the Colorado River, and explore the Needles Regional Museum to learn about the area’s history.
- Barstow: Visit the Route 66 Mother Road Museum and the historic Harvey House Railroad Depot.
- Santa Monica: Your journey culminates at the Santa Monica Pier, where you can dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean. The “End of the Trail” sign marks the completion of your epic Route 66 adventure.
This iconic journey along Route 66 from Oklahoma to California offers a glimpse into the heart and soul of America. From the charming small towns to the vast desert landscapes, this historic route is a testament to the spirit of exploration and the enduring appeal of the open road. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply in search of adventure, Route 66 has something to offer every traveler.