Here at The Wander Club, we're huge fans of road trips. They're a super-flexible, affordable way to travel, allowing you to spend as much or as little time as you want on the road. Plus, you can very literally cover a lot of ground on a road trip.
Maybe it's the warmer weather teasing us, letting us know summer (i.e., road trip season) is just around the corner, but we find ourselves dreaming of the open road lately. A lot.
To cure our road trip wanderlust, we're taking a look at one of the most iconic routes of all time: Historic Route 66. Also known as "the Mother Road" and "America's Main Street," Route 66 spans eight states and 2,448 miles, from Chicago to Los Angeles.
Want to know which Route 66 sights are not to be missed? Stick around! Oh, and don't forget plenty of family-friendly road trip snacks!
10 of the Best Historic Route 66 Sights
From quirky roadside stops to one of the most famous national parks, here are some of the best Route 66 must see attractions.
1. "Historic Route 66 Begin" Sign - Chicago, Illinois
If you're venturing out to see Route 66 sights, you may as well start from the beginning, right?
You'll find the original sign marking the route's origin on Adams Street near Wabash Avenue, bordering Grant Park (where you'll also find the famous Buckingham Fountain).
And if you're also interested in the "Historic Route 66 End" sign, look for it at the intersection of Michigan and Jackson Avenue.
2. Original "Muffler Man" - Springfield, Illinois
Lots of Route 66 sights are "giants," but none quite compare to the original. The Lauterbach Giant has stood watch over Lauterbach Auto Service since 1978, inspiring many similar statues along the Mother Road.
The poor giant was decapitated in a tornado in 2006, but the auto shop quickly replaced his head.
3. Gateway Arch National Park - St. Louis, Missouri
If you want the best Route 66 sights, you can't not stop to see the largest arch in the world! Take a tram ride all the way to the top, 630 feet in the air, for incredible views and to marvel at modern architecture.
Fun facts about Gateway Arch National Park: it's the smallest national park in the U.S. and the only one that doesn't protect a natural area or resource.
4. Kan-O-Tex Gas Station - Galena, Kansas
Now affectionately known as "Cars on the Route," this old Kan-O-Tex gas station is a Route 66 must see.
You may recognize the 1951 International Harvester tow truck parked outside — it directly inspired the character "Tow Mater" in the beloved Pixar movie Cars. Looking around further, it's clear that Galena inspired Radiator Springs, the movie's fictional setting.
5. Pops 66 Soda Ranch - Arcadia, Oklahoma
Much more than "just" a diner, Pops has over 700 types of soda and other soft drinks, including more than 80 varieties of root beer alone!
Try to time your visit for the evening, when the giant (66 feet tall!) soda bottle-shaped sign out front is illuminated in neon. At this unique Route 66 sight, you can fuel up both literally and figuratively!
6. Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo, Texas
A Route 66 must see even if just for the photo ops, Cadillac Ranch appeals to road trippers of all ages and interests.
10 vintage Cadillacs (1949-1964) stick up out of the ground just off I-40, partially buried and covered in graffiti. Here, the controversial art of graffiti is actually encouraged. Bring your own cans of spray paint or buy them from the mobile shop onsite.
Bonus: Not far from Cadillac Ranch, look for the enormous steer head indicating the Big Texan Steak Ranch, which has been in business since 1960.
7. Tucumcari, New Mexico
The quaint historic town of Tucumcari encapsulates everything we all love about the Mother Road: big neon signs, retro motels, and colorful murals.
In fact, Tucumcari has nearly 40 murals, almost all located in the downtown core. Stop by the Chamber of Commerce to pick up a map and make a day of finding as many as you can — and snapping photos along the way, of course.
8. Wigwam Motel - Holbrook, Arizona
In the 1930s and '40s, wigwam motels were outrageously popular. Today, just three are left, and two of them are located along Route 66 (the other one is near San Bernardino, California).
This one in historic Holbrook is a Route 66 must see and is a major Arizona bucket list destination for many. Not only is each of the motel rooms a tipi, but the parking lot is also filled with well-preserved vintage cars!
9. Grand Canyon National Park - Arizona
When you're discussing iconic Route 66 sights, no one said you can't take a small detour. The South Rim of the spectacular Grand Canyon is just 60 miles from Holbrook, and it also happens to be the only entrance open year-round.
The canyon is one mile deep, a stunning 18 miles wide at its widest point, and 277 river miles long. It's definitely a Route 66 must see.
Psst...did you know the Grand Canyon is one of the best national parks to visit in the fall?
10. Original McDonald's Museum - San Bernardino, California
Whether you love fast food or you never eat it, the original McDonald's (opened in 1940) is one of the top must-see Route 66 sights.
Now a museum, which is completely free to visit by the way, you'll find decades worth of McDonald's memorabilia such as historical menus, store displays from around the world, and vintage Happy Meal toys.
So, which Route 66 sights are you planning to visit first? Wherever you start and stop, there's just one more thing: a way to document your trip!
The Wander Club makes awesome road trip-ready souvenirs, including ultra-portable Wanderchains and Shop Travel Tokens. There's even one specifically for Route 66! Shop around and check out all the creative ways you can make your own DIY souvenir — one that has special meaning to you!