Road-Tripping Down America’s Main Street

The Great American Road Trip. For some it’s a family tradition. For others it’s a bucket list vacation. For everyone, a road trip along America’s famous Route 66 is a great way to see the country and enjoy some time with the family.

Traveling along the historic Route 66 is a throwback to the days when a vacation meant the whole family would pack up the car and hit the road. Roadside cafés, motels and kitschy tourist traps made for many a fun vacation photo and memories galore. While high-octane destinations like Disneyworld, Las Vegas and SeaWorld clamor for top billing, many families opt for quality bonding time and nostalgia with the old-fashioned road trip.

From the Windy City to the California Coast, this classic trip covers eight different states and some of the most historic roads in the country. Winding through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, there is no shortage of adventures to be had along the way. Dating back to 1926, it was once the main route between the Midwest and the Pacific. While nowadays road-trippers can save tons of time taking modern highways across the country, this old-fashioned road trip has some pretty cool sights to see along the way.

Start off in Chicago with a hearty meal at Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant, welcoming guests with complimentary donut holes and Milk Duds before sending them on their way since 1946. On your way through Missouri, stop and catch a movie at the 66 Drive-In in Carthage (open April through October).

Route 66

Route 66 © Andrey Bayda |

Although the route no longer exists in its complete original form, many sections remain intact with some interstate detours mixed in (the road follows along what is currently Interstate 40 in several states). There are numerous historic markers to be seen along the way and plenty of Americana like Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park in Foyil, Okla. Just three miles off the main road, this 14-acre park has a number of unique totem poles including its main claim to fame, the “World’s Largest Concrete Totem Pole.”

In Texas, the route takes travelers through the U.S. Route 66-Sixth Street Historic District, a 13-block historic district in downtown Amarillo. In the little town of Adrian, just west of Amarillo, stop in for lunch at the famous Midpoint Cafe and Gift Shop that marks the halfway point along the trip. While driving through Arizona make sure to plan a night in Holbrook at the Wigwam Village Motel #6, a museum and motel that lets guests spend the night in their own teepee! Once you reach California, the road takes you right by the historic “Madonna of the Trail” statue in Upland (a memorial to America’s pioneer women) and along the beautiful Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena before arriving at the Pacific Ocean.

Since maps don’t show the route by its historic name anymore, check out a website like to help you map out your road trip or the National Park Service website for a comprehensive listing of historical landmarks to visit along the way. Get the family in on the fun by grabbing a map to plan your next road trip together.