Route 66 represents the quintessential American road trip highway. This historic highway stretches 2,448 miles from Chicago, Illinois, in the heart of the midwest, to the sunny west coast of Santa Monica, California. Though the route has been rendered obsolete in many areas by the large modern interstates that were developed to facilitate commercial travel, it remains a favorite of road trippers looking for a glimpse of true Americana from a bygone era.
The popular byway is now dotted with an eclectic array of original structures steeped in history, allowing travelers to take a trip back through time as they travel back through quaint restaurants and diners, gift shops, and of course, the iconic neon signs that have been a fixture along the route for over half a century.
Today, Route 66 passes through old forgotten towns, turned into tourist attractions, as well as large bustling massive metropolitan areas with all the hustle and bustle and modern amenities that you would expect to find in any large American city.
While you can enjoy a taste of Route 66 by traveling a short distance on the highway, for many, a true Route 66 road trip means traveling this iconic stretch of highway from start to finish. If you are going for the full Route 66 road trip experience, then RV travel is by far the best and most comfortable way to make the trip. Today’s modern fifth-wheel RVs, travel trailers, and motorhomes allow you to travel the entire 2,448-mile length of Route 66 in comfort.
In fact, we will make it even easier for you by taking a look at some of the most popular, must-see destination spots along Route 66 and the best places to set up your RV along the way.
We will kick off our ultimate Route 66 RV road trip at the natural starting point, the easternmost state along the iconic roadway, Illinois. Illinois is home to a number of great American cities, from Chicago to Springfield. There is plenty to see in this mid-western state, so let’s dive into the must-see sites to help you get your Route 66 RV road trip off to a great start.
The Lincoln Tomb - Springfield, IL Visit the Lincoln Tomb in Springfield, Illinois, to pay your respects to one of the nation’s most influential presidents. As the official burial site of President Abraham Lincoln, The Lincoln Tomb is designated as a National Historic Landmark. President Lincoln’s official resting place is marked by a 117-foot obelisk, as well as a number of marble and bronze statues created to honor the life and accomplishments of this true American hero.
The Happy Camper - Chicago, IL The Happy Camper is another Chicago eatery located along Route 66. This RV travel-themed eatery is a must-stop location for any Route 66 RV road trip. The eatery allows diners to enjoy their meals inside one of the many trailers situated inside the restaurant or enjoy a drink from one of the tire swings at the bar.
The Arcadia Arcade Museum - McClean, IL The small town of Mclean, Illinois, boasts one of Route 66’s hidden gems, an arcade museum filled with all of your favorite arcade games from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Ms. PacMan, Centipede, Super Mario Bros, Galaga, Frogger, and more. They are all in here, along with several vintage pinball machines as well. Best of all, nearly every machine in the museum is in excellent working condition, and unlike the stuffy museums of your childhood, this museum encourages touching. Visitors are encouraged to revisit their childhood arcade days by playing these old machines at the vintage price of a quarter or two a play, just like the good old days.
The next stop along our Route 66 RV road trip is the state of Missouri. Missouri is another mid-western state with plenty of fabled attractions that are a must-see on any Route 66 itinerary. Here are a few can’t-miss Missouri hot spots.
The Gateway Arch National Park is also home to the “Old Courthouse,” which history buffs will recognize as the location of the influential Dred Scott trial of 1847 and 1850.
As our Route 66 RV road trip crosses into Oklahoma, we begin to embrace the full spirit of the wild west. The stops on the next leg of our Route 66 RV road trip reflect our transition to the western half of America.
Milk Bottle Grocery - Oklahoma City, OK Part of the appeal of a Route 66 RV road trip is stopping to snap pictures of you and your traveling companions in front of the many zany, quirky, kitschy, and just plain weird roadside attractions that dot the westernmost portion of Route 66. The Milk Bottle Grocery in Oklahoma City is one such place. This retro roadside grocery features a can’t miss giant milk bottle atop its roof. Stop by for pics, and pick up some ice-cold milk for the RV fridge while you are here.
Blue Whale - Catoosa, OK When it comes to quirky roadside photo-op locations, the gigantic Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma, definitely ranks among the quirkiest. Originally constructed as a private pond-side attraction for the owner, High Davis’s wife, and children, it soon began to draw in both locals and tourists as well. Today, the impromptu pond-side playground offers a sandy beach, slides for the kiddos, souvenir stands, and of course, plenty of chances to take some great family pictures.
Jack Sisemore RV Museum - Amarillo, TX No Route 66 RV road trip would be complete without a stop at the Jack Sisemore RV Museum in Amarillo, Texas. This FREE museum allows travelers to travel back in time through its exhibits of classic RVs like the very first Itasca ever built and the bus used in the Robin Williams comedy film “RV.” The museum is also home to classic automobiles and motorcycles. There is truly something for the whole family at this Texas roadside ode to automobilia.
Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, TX Cadillac Ranch, in Amarillo, Texas, hardly needs any introduction. This classic roadside landmark has been a symbol of Route 66 and classic over-the-top American car culture for years. The 1974 art installation, featuring 10 Cadillacs of different vintages buried nose first in the Texas dirt, has been featured in several creature films and graced everything from postcards to posters, coffee mugs, T-shirts, and more. When it comes to Route 66 photo opportunities, the Cadillac Ranch is definitely at the top of everyone’s list.
New Mexico is known as The Land of Enchantment for a good reason. This state is packed full of quirkiness, mysticism, and all kinds of one-of-kind must-see attractions, a large number of which are located along Route 66. Here are a couple of our top picks.
Teepee Curios - Tucumcari, NM Teepee Curios in Tucumcari is the type of quirky roadside tourist stop that Route 66 is known for. The bright flashing neon sign at the roadway is hard to miss, and the large teepee entrance welcomes travelers into this quaint little gift and souvenir shop selling a wide variety of local artisan-made jewelry, crafts, and t-shirts, as well as postcards, t-shirts, hats, and much more.
Route 66 Auto Museum - Santa Rosa, NM The Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa is a must-visit for car enthusiasts. This private museum features more than 30 vintage hot rods, as well as a wide collection of Route 66-themed automobilia like antique gas station pumps, filling station signs, and more. Some of the cars are even available for sale; just think of them as a really large Route 66 souvenir!
Arizona offers an awesome mix of storied roadside locations and awe-inspiring natural wonders, most of which are located along Route 66. We already know that the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest are on your Route 66 itinerary, so let’s take a look at a couple of lesser-known Arizona must-see stops.
Standin’ on the Corner Park - Winslow, AZ The Standin’ On The Corner Park in Winslow is a nod to the famous classic hit, “Take It Easy” by The Eagles, which features the famous line “…standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona”. Visitors come from all over to take pictures on this famous corner, so the town now features a park dedicated to creating the perfect photo op for tourists to get that perfect shot and place themselves inside the song. This is a must-stop for your next van-life adventure pics!
Bearizona Wildlife Park - Williams, AZ Located just a short distance from Route 66, Bearizona Wildlife Parks allows a unique opportunity for Route 66 road trippers to experience the local wildlife, from bears, and wolves, to mountain goats and bison, all from the safety of their own vehicle. There is a walking area at the end where you can see adorable baby animals and an avian show. All varieties of vehicles are welcome at this drive-thru park, from cars and trucks to RVs and motorcycles.
California marks the ending point of our Route 66 RV road trip. The historic roadway originally came to a stop in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. However, in 1935 the route was extended through to Santa Monica. Today the official end of the road for Route 66 sits at the Santa Monica Pier, making this the final must-see stop on our list.
Now that we have reached the end of our Route 66 RV road trip, we hope you are feeling inspired to start planning your own RV road trip along the mother road. Before you head out to your local RV dealership, here are a few final suggestions for choosing the right RV for your next road trip adventure.
For starters, take some time to consider your unique RV lifestyle, and you need to ensure that you get an RV that is large enough for your whole family and sized right for you to park in the locations that you want to visit. You will need to take RV maintenance into account as well. Make sure to look into the benefits of RV extended warranty coverage to take the heavy-lifting portion of RV maintenance off your shoulders.
When you are ready to start shopping for your next RV, be sure to pay a visit to RV Wholesalers to check out our selection of RVs from industry leaders like Forest River RV, Puma XLE, Cherokee RV, Winnebago, and more. Our friendly staff of RV experts is here to help you find the perfect RV for your next RV road trip, wherever the road may take you.