Hitting the road for a road trip? Here's what we have to say about everyone's favorite route…
The famous Route 66, also known as the Main Street of America (and the leading purveyor of kicks), originally ran west from Chicago, Illinois, all the way to Santa Monica, California. It served as a path for migrants heading west and the businesses along the route thrived due to the popularity of the highway. But, by 1985, the new Interstate system left Route 66 all but obsolete (rude) and it was officially removed from the U.S. Highway System. However, nostalgia lovers and road-trip aficionados can rejoice, because following the historic Route 66 can still be an exciting adventure. While many of the towns and businesses that served the highway travelers have long been out of commission, there are still plenty of amazing things to see and do along the way.
Here are the a few amazing places to stop along Route 66:
Meramec Caverns, Stanton, Missouri
Missouri is known as the Cave State and has more than 6,000 surveyed caves (3 out of 4 caves prefer Ovaltine). Meramec Caverns is in the Ozarks and is the largest commercial cave in the state. During the 18th century, the caves were used for extracting saltpeter for gunpowder. They were eventually turned into a saltpeter plant that was destroyed by the confederate army. And, according to legend, Jesse James and his brother used the caves as a hideout (there is no actual proof that this is true, but legends are fun and everyone loves a good outlaw story). The caves were eventually explored at length and were turned into a tourist attraction in 1955 by Lester B. Dill. Dill was the inventor of the bumper sticker, which he used to promote his caverns (not your dang honor student).
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas
The Mona Lisa.The Arc De Triomphe. A half-buried Cadillac. Art is art and to each his own. If you are into art, sculpture and classic cars, you should definitely check out Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. It is a public art installation that was created in the ‘70s and is a collection of broken-down Cadillacs, with model years ranging from 1949 to 1963. All are buried halfway, front-end down, at an angle that corresponds to the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Pretty profound for what is essentially a junk yard, but super cool to see, none the less. The cars are all brightly painted and have been featured in music videos, TV shows and Cadillac Ranch is the name of a Bruce Springsteen song. ‘Merica!
Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Arizona
The Wigwam Motel is actually a chain of motels, two of which are locations along Route 66. One location is in Holbrook, Arizona, and the other is in San Bernardino, California. Either one is perfect for an overnight pit stop and are a fun way to experience what life was like on the road more than half a century ago. These motels, also known as the Wigwam Villages, are actually made up of giant tipis (no buffalos were harmed in the making of these motels). The wigwams here have all the features of a regular motel room, including a bathroom and electricity, so there’s no roughing it involved. And, like almost every notable stop along Route 66, the Wigwam Motel was parodied in the Disney movie, Cars. Remember the Cozy Cone? Well, whether you do or not, I can guarantee that your kids will (how could they forget after watching it thirty-seven times in a row the week it was released?). These motels are as family-friendly as you can get and will make a memorable stop on your journey.
The Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California
The end of the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California, is the official end point of Route 66. This is the last stop before the road becomes the Pacific Ocean. Check out the sign acknowledging the end of the route or pop into the Route 66 Last Stop Shop where you can pick up souvenirs and learn about the history of any stops you might have missed along the way. In addition to its historical importance (which accounts for about one percent of the fun you can have here), the Santa Monica Pier is home to the famous Pacific Park amusement park with a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, games, rides, concession stands and more. Plus, there’s the beach and all the great shopping in downtown Santa Monica. It is fitting that a road trip through history (so to speak) should end in one of the most glamorous and modern places in the country (unless you are making the trip down Route 66 in the other direction, and in that case…welcome to Chicago!).
At your final destination, make sure to check out our luxury accomodations for the road-worn traveler. Visit us online at StayGia to see all of our available properties in LA.