Get your kicks on Route 66 – you have all heard the song and romance of the open road. Discovering Route 66 is on many a folk’s bucket list. One of the most visited pages on this website is Route 66 – 2448 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier which is an overview and history of this nostalgic road trip.
But is it going to take your breath away? It is going to take a great deal of planning and budgeting to make this your trip of a lifetime. Choose which direction to take and make a must see wish list.
Now I am a rookie visitor to Route 66 and admit to only doing about 60 miles of ‘The Mother Road’ whilst in Oklahoma City recently. We had researched a very comprehensive guide supplied by the Oklahoma Visitors and Convention Bureau. This is great trip planning tool for Oklahoma and is worth looking at.
By miles Oklahoma has the longest part of Historic Route 66 a total of 432 miles and running right through the state capitol of Oklahoma City which the only state capitol on Route 66.
We were based close to I-40 which runs alongside the original Route 66. The old road has the distinctive brown Historic Route 66 markers along the way. If you can keep an eye out for on these signs I guess you will be lucky but they just appear randomly. GPS directions do not know Route 66 as a tourist attraction so search for specific targets in ‘point of interest’ and AVOID HIGHWAYS you might be rewarded with getting onto and following Route 66.
In Oklahoma City in ‘Uptown’ between the Capitol building and the Golden Dome was the best experience in my opinion of the portion of Route 66 that we drove on. There were some Route 66 icons such as the Tower Theatre and the Milk Bottle Building and of course the Robot.
The Robot is part of a series called Robots of Route 66 and more will be in place along the 2448 mile experience ready for the 2026 centenary celebrations of Route 66. Interspersed between the icons were regular stores and eateries and others that were in Americana style.
So one end of our plan was the Round Barn in Arcadia, OK which is a restored barn from 1898 and the only one it’s kind that remains and added to the NRHP in 1977. There was plenty of parking available at the rear and some old farming equipment in the grounds and a boutique/gift shop further down the road. Free to visit and on Historic Route 66 about 6 miles from I-35. Along the same portion is Pops Arcadia which looks like it was a fuel stop that has been modernised into a Route 66 attraction.
If you want a colourful and unique experience of how many different soda pops you can buy then this is a must visit place. You can eat and shop and stare up at the 66 ft high soda bottle that dominates the edge of the road. They display all their soda pops by colour and the range is huge. It was busy in there but judging by the vast car parking available it was a quiet day for them.
So Arcadia features on it’s Route 66 portion something genuinely pre -1926 and something more modern. We saw multiple murals along the 60 or so miles that we discovered and parked up to take pictures of the colourful and retro walls.
In the other direction we started of at the Cherokee Market Place and found the Historic Route 66 by avoiding highways towards El Reno. Long straight open road single track on undulating countryside was an enjoyable drive. Arriving in El Reno was another quiet town made popular for the Route 66 El Reno sign on the crossroads with a converted petrol station that is now a donut store. After another photo opportunity of the sign and another mural we headed to Yukon. There were old motels and plenty of Route 66 signs to take pictures of.
Honestly though by the end of day it became very samey and hat’s off to those Road Trippers who have completed 2448 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier. I bet that the mileage was greater to allow detours to off Route 66 attractions.
I understand the appeal of being on the open road and following Route 66 along the narrow roads that for the period of 1926 were adequate to accommodate the traffic of the day but so much has been introduced on these old roads and towns to attract tourists and are not of the era.
The motels of the 1950’s era still operate and are photogenic and also the petrol stations with vintage cars and trucks parked outside for a photo opportunity are attractive but if you stopped at everything it could take you over three weeks to see everything.
Have a look at this blog for a four day recent road trip that I follow that features a four day trip through Missouri and Kansas that does reflect the directional issue road trippers can face….. Route 66 Missouri
The attractions are much the same through Missouri as they were in Oklahoma so perhaps instead of doing all of Route 66 why not plan to discover it in smaller sections. This is going to be more achievable of course if you are resident of the States and even more if you actually live in one of the eight states that the Will Rogers Highway crosses.