The legendary Historic Route 66 takes you from Grant Park Chicago to Santa Monica Pier. It becomes a shadow of its former self as the new highway system was built in 1980’s bypassing most of the towns located along the route. Sometimes you need to drive on the highway to get to the next town, but there are a few old towns that cling to the not so distant past and you can still drive along the old route to follow the history. The Historic Route 66 road trip took us about 6 days (about 3500km) and we stopped by about 15 towns throughout the whole journey.
We landed at Los Angeles, the destination of our road trip was Chicago, which supposed to be the beginning of the Route 66. We planned spending 1 week to visit some national parks in Utah and Arizona before we heading down to Route 66.
So our journey began in Williams, Arizona
Everything in Williams is about Route 66, cafes, restaurants, bars and all the shops. Even the cars park along the road bring you all the senses of route 66. Stop at Williams was like stepping back in time, or running into a movie scene. You can feel the tones of stories happened there and time had been frozen since then.
The Eagles sang this song “Take It Easy”, "Well, I'm a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see. It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin' down to take a look at me". It’s hard to believe, but it was the song that brought us here, as well as the biggest Route 66 sign on the floor.
Get your kick on Route 66
11 April 2016
Besides all the stories that we heard about Route 66, another crucial reason that we decided to go for this trip was the Wigwam Motel photo we saw online before we even heard about this road.
There were 7 motels in the past and only left 3 now. Two of the Wigwam Motels are located along Route 66 and we decided to visit the one at Holbrook, Arizona. Every Wigwam has a vintage car parked outside to add in the colour. Today, the Wigwam are for display purpose only, and you could only stay the night at the two storeys house behind them.
If you are a super fan of vintage car, this is really a cool place that you won't want to miss it!
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Albuquerque old town is a very famous shopping and touristic destination. The buildings there were founding by the Spanish so you can find the historic adobe buildings all around the district, yet it shows a very strong mexican culture place.
An interesting spot we found in the town was seeing the local people making and selling hand-crafted accessories under a roof. They are all super friendly and so willing to share with you about their design concepts and even their lives, it was really inspiring and you will be surprised when you heard about their design—every stone they used, has its own stories, and they are all unique by themselves.
Besides this, you can find all kinds of vibrant color painted skulls in the souvenir shops.
Santa Fe is Known as the oldest state capital city in the United State and the oldest city in New Mexico. Once you have stepped in Santa Fe, you will see lots of pueblo revival style buildings, it gives you a very rough and natural kind of feel.
It’s a pretty small town, so we didn’t plan any specific activities to do here, just randomly walking around and visiting some interesting shops. One of the shops that we like the most called “Queork”, it’s a Portuguese fashion brand by using cork fabric to make fashion accessories and bags. Gosh, you have no idea we have spent almost an hour over there, really want to bring all of their items back if we could!
Well, due to the tight schedule of that day, We only managed to stop by for two hours then headed to our accomendation before the night fell. But this is really a nice town to visit and explore around and We like it very much.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma is known for their cowboy culture, but we didn’t spend too much time chasing for cowboys. Instead, we spent the whole day at Paseo Arts District and 16th street Plaza District to visit the shops after our brunch. If you are obsessed with graffiti, tattoo, vintage stuff and those quirky accessories, here will be your heaven! When we stepped into a vintage shop, we really felt ourselves back to the 70s, or 80s.
St. Louis, Missouri
We have enjoyed our road trip, but after staying in different small towns in the past few days , it was really nice to visit a big city once a while.
We stopped the car besides the Gateway Arch and we decided to walk down to the town area. Initially, We was planning to find a decent place for dinner and explore around the city, but the streets were really quiet (maybe because it was a sunday) and gloomy. There were less than 5 people walk pass by us and most of them were homeless people. We don't feel comfortable walking around anymore and the night was getting darker, so we settled our dinner at a sushi house and ended our day much earlier than we planned.
What a thrilling night.
We were almost in the last lap of our road trip on Route 66 before we reached our destination, Route 66's starting point-Chicago.
Atlanta was our first stop of the day. As usual, we will stop by and explore around the town. There were lots of Route 66 inspired signboards mounted on the brick wall. But it was weird to see a 19-foot tall guy in red shirt holding a hot dog, especially there were not a single hot dog shops nearby. It is a good place to take a break after 1.5 hours of non-stop driving and of course, a nice place to take some pictures;)
Pontiac is a star on Route 66. We paid a visit to Route 66 Association Hall of Fame Museum, Livingston Country War Museum and International Wall Dog Mural and Sign Art Museum. There are all kinds of Route 66 collections, vintage cars, plates, maps, drawings and all the significant works happened on Route 66. In the museum that features great work from the Walldogs, you can see the patterns, sketches and the photo of finished signs created by those travelling sign painter in history. They went around the country to draw ads with freehand, we were really amazed by their talents. If you don’t have enough time to experience the whole journey, just dropping by Pontiac, and you will know pretty much everything about the history of Route 66.
Most people start their Mother Road journey by ordering a hotdog in Polk-A-Dot drive-in Braidwood. So do we. We also had our hotdog there but to celebrate the end of the journey, yay!
If someday you happened to drive all the way through Route 66, come to this old school restaurant, sign your name on their record book and order a huge cheese dog. Don’t forget to pay a visit at their toilet, it will bring you back to the legendary time of Elvis.
We have started missing Williams already Before we reached Chicago. We felt isolated and anxious, because we were drown in the horns and noise.
In the end, all our sadness ended at dinner time, we had a super fancy dinner at downtown Chicago and the moment we saw the famous Chicago Theatre, we knew our new journey was about to begin.