route 66 history, route 66 guide

A Quick Guide and History of Route 66

The famous Route 66 in the U.S is a 2,448 mile (3,940km) highway popular with tourists. The route is also known as the ‘Will Rogers Highway’, the ‘Main Street of America’, or the ‘Mother Road.’

Why was Route 66 Created?

The iconic Route 66 was the very first highway of its kind. It was designed to be the first highway to link the continent, connecting urban and rural areas as it went. It was also the first to be laid diagonally across the continent rather than east to west or north to south.
During the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, many travelled along Route 66 towards the west in search of a better life.

The official end of Route 66

From a traveller’s point of view, it was the 1950s when the route really grew in popularity. But that all ended with Dwight Eisenhowers’ 1956 Federal Highway Act which meant a new, bigger, faster highway was created which bypassed route 66. This led to the demise of the route, with businesses shutting and towns now suffering the loss of tourism and truckers. By 1985, the route was decommissioned and officially ceased to exist.
With just over three quarters of the route left today, not-for-profit organisations and national grants have helped to protect and preserve what there is left. Many make the trip of a lifetime to travel this route again today, but it is more of a nostalgic trip compared to its original purpose.

Route 66 Today

Nowadays you will see vintage cars, old fashioned diners, restored cute little refuelling stations and towns that look like they were frozen in time. It really is spectacular and something you will not see or experience anywhere else in the world.

Where does Route 66 start and end?

Depending on which direction you travel, the route starts and ends between Chicago, Illinois in the North East of the country and Santa Monica, California in the South West.

Which States Does Route 66 go through?

Route 66 crosses through 8 states in its 2,448 miles. These states are Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Think about all those different experiences you and things you will see along that route!

What are the main attractions on Route 66?

There are many, many things to see along Route 66, all of which we could not possible fit here. So, here are 3 popular stopping points:

  1. Grant Park, Chicago – As well as a gorgeous city and stunning park, you will also be able to find the famous “End Historic Route 66” sign.
  2. Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas – one for the gram, this famous public art installation is, literally, lots of Cadillacs painted and up-ended.
  3. Milk Bottle Grocery, Oklahoma City - Want to see a huge milk bottle?Who doesn’t! This is exactly what you see here. A bit of an odd one but a popular one no less.

Just a quick note from us, if you are thinking about heading out on the open road in the US, you need to have travel insurance. Not only is the healthcare extremely expensive in the states if you need any medication or treatment, you will be travelling for thousands of miles through territory you do not know. Travel insurance will also cover you for theft or loss of belongings, trip interruption, cancellation and much more.

 Car insurance is not the same as travel insurance; you must also have that too. If you are hiring a car from a company, they will be able to assist you with this. It is better to be safe than sorry.