While you might say that we’re preferential to Missouri, the ‘Mother Road’ extends not only through Missouri, but also though Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
Like a pioneer from the olden days, your trip will take you through the full spectrum of climates, landmarks, and interesting people.
From forests to deserts and farms, there is plenty to see and do on the ‘Mother Road’. With the benefit of over a dozen trips out west and back, Fanning66 would like to recommend our top 7 places to visit on Route 66…
1. Rialto Square Theatre (Joliet, Illinois)
The majestic Rialto Square Theatre was inaugurated as an entertainment palace in 1926. Inspired by the neo-baroque aesthetic, this building features sumptuous glass chandeliers, meticulous and complex murals, and stunning marble pillars.
The Rialto Square Theatre presently shows concerts, musicals, plays, and comedy shows. This magnificent historic site is well worth booking a ticket before you get to Springfield, Illinois.
2. Abraham Lincoln’s Home (Springfield, Illinois)
Abraham Lincoln’s home is an exceptional historic site to visit for your first stop. While in Springfield, Illinois you can get an inside look into the house of America’s president during the civil war era.
This center is open every day except for special holidays like New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. You can also swing by other Lincoln-period exhibits and attractions, mainly his tomb, museum, library, and also the New Salem State site (a reconstruction of the former village).
3. The Gateway Arch (St Louis, Missouri)
This will most likely be your second stop during your Route 66 trip. Bordering the Mississipi River, St Louis is a melting pot of cultures with a fascinating history, and a vibrant sport and music scene. Hike through the beautiful Forest Park or go for a stroll along the river.
Explore the city’s diverse food traditions that delight the tastebuds and stimulate the imagination. Don’t forget to stop by the monumental Gateway Arch. This iconic attraction is definitely not to be missed. Visitors can take a 630-foot ride to the top for unparalleled views of the city
4. Meramec Caverns (Stanton, Missouri)
The renowned Meramec Caverns in Stanton, Missouri are one of the most popular caves in the whole state and definitely make for a remarkable Route 66 landmark. The four and a half-mile long cavern was formed from the erosion of limestone deposits. These caverns also contain artifacts that date as far back as the Pre-Columbian Native Americans.
5. The Blue Whale (Catoosa, Oklahoma)
The Blue Whale of Catoosa is one of the most recognizable figures of Route 66. This quirky and unique roadside attraction is immersed in a pristine pond and surrounded by greenery -which makes for a perfect picnic area. This is a great spot to stop, enjoy nature, and take in the scenery before you resume your road trip.
6. Route 66 Museum (Clinton, Oklahoma)
The Clinton Route 66 Museum is one of the best museums on Route 66. The facility offers guests and visitors the opportunity to travel through the history of this renowned road and explore the many defining moments it went through in the past. The museum includes a replica diner (from the 1950s), a ‘Dust Bowl’ encounter, and Big Band jazz music from the era.
7. Cadillac Ranch (Amarillo, Texas)
The famous Cadillac Ranch is an art exhibit or piece that was commissioned by Stanley Marsh III and features a series of Cadillacs partially buried and covered in spray paint and graffiti. This was built in 1974 and has since become one of Amarillo’s must-see attractions.
While you can see it from the road, it’s best to make a stop and walk through the field to get a closer look at this public art installation. Visitors are encouraged to put their own touch on the cadillacs by spray painting a part of their chosen vehicle.