Planning a road trip along Route 66? Understanding the logistics is essential for a smooth journey. In this guide, we’ll delve into the practicalities and main attractions, providing you with the necessary insights to make the best decisions for your trip.

A history of Route 66

Stretching from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles, this iconic highway has a history that dates back to 1926. Covering around 2,448 miles, Route 66 started as a patchwork of local roads and provided jobs for thousands as the road was constructed and paved during the Great Depression.

The highway became a lifeline for families migrating west during the Dust Bowl, and an option for those seeking wartime jobs in booming California factories. Motels, gas stations, and roadside diners sprung up alongside Route 66, catering to a new breed of traveler – the road tripper.

However, the tide began to turn with the creation of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Highway System in the 1950s. These faster, more efficient interstate highways bypassed many towns along Route 66, sapping its economic lifeblood. By the 1980s, much of the original Route 66 had been decommissioned.

But Route 66’s story doesn’t end there! Thankfully, preservation efforts fueled by a healthy dose of nostalgia have brought historic stretches of the road back to life. Today, these revitalized sections operate with a unique charm, attracting travelers seeking an authentic immersion into America’s automotive past.

Is Route 66 still worth driving?

Absolutely! While Route 66 isn’t the most efficient route across the country anymore, it’s a journey steeped in American history and pop culture. Imagine cruising down the “Mother Road,” windows down, classic tunes blasting, stopping at quirky diners and neon-lit motels – a truly immersive Americana experience.

But the real magic happens with the perfect car. Have you ever thought about driving Route 66 (or a scenic stretch) in a convertible? Sixt, a renowned car rental company in the United States, boasts a fleet of luxury vehicles and convertibles just waiting to elevate your trip. It’s like stepping into a classic movie scene, but this time, you’re the star. Incredible, right?

How long does it take to travel through Route 66?

The beauty of Route 66 is its flexibility! Unlike a rigid highway trip, Route 66 shines in allowing you to craft your own itinerary. Traversing the entire 2,400 miles might take a few weeks for a full immersion, but craving a quick dash through a few states? A week lets you hit iconic stops. Longing to truly lose yourself in Americana? Stretch it to 2-3 weeks and explore Route 66 to its fullest.

Where does Route 66 start and end?

Traditionally, Route 66 kicks off in downtown Chicago, Illinois, following a path westward through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. While the original end point was in Springfield, Missouri, most modern Route 66 adventures culminate in the iconic Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, California.

How many states does Route 66 cross?

Route 66 traverses eight states, spanning from the heart of the Midwest to the picturesque West Coast of the United States! Below, we’ll break down the journey by state, highlighting some iconic stops along the way – but keep in mind, this is just a taste of what Route 66 has to offer!


Kick off your trip in Chicago, exploring Millennium Park’s “Bean” sculpture or the Art Institute’s impressive collection. After that, your next stop will be Springfield, where you can delve into Abraham Lincoln’s legacy at his presidential library and museum, or even visit his historic home.


The Gateway Arch, a monument in St. Louis, Missouri.

Once in Missouri, take a detour from Springfield to explore Route 66′ history at Chain of Rocks Bridge and Route 66 State Park (this adds extra mileage!). And as you reach St. Louis, don’t miss the iconic Gateway Arch and vibrant cultural scene. While you’re in the state, make sure to include a drive through the Ozark Mountains if you’re interested in natural beauty!


Kansas offers a short but sweet Route 66 experience! Drive through charming towns like Galena and grab a bite at a classic diner in Baxter Springs, you won’t regret it.


Aerial view of Oklahoma City, in Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, check out the iconic Blue Whale in Catoosa before continuing to Tulsa for museums like the Philbrook and Woody Guthrie Center. After Tulsa, if you have time, explore the Route 66 Interpretive Center in Chandler and quirky roadside attractions at POPS in Arcadia. Wrap up your Oklahoma leg in Oklahoma City, visiting the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum or the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum!


Head southwest towards the Texas border! Along the way, make stops in towns like El Reno for a taste of their famous onion burgers and in Clinton to explore the Route 66 Museum. Also, don’t miss the kitschy charm of Shamrock’s Conoco Tower and U-Drop Inn, or the iconic Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo. Finally, fill up your gas tank and head west towards Adrian, the official midpoint of Route 66!

New Mexico

Aerial view of the Albuquerque skyline, in New Mexico.

Entering New Mexico, enjoy the drive to Santa Rosa with a dip in the Blue Hole. Explore Route 66’s car scene in Santa Rosa, then consider a detour to Acoma Pueblo for a historic Native American experience. In Albuquerque, soak in Old Town’s charm and learn about indigenous cultures. Leaving Albuquerque, marvel at lava flows at El Malpais National Monument. In Grants, discover the state’s mining history, then continue west to Gallup, stopping to see ancient inscriptions at El Morro National Monument.


The Petrified Forest National Park, near Holbrook, Arizona.

Drive down Route 66 towards Holbrook, Arizona. Snap a pic at the Eagles’ “Standin’ on a Corner” spot in Winslow, then explore its historic downtown. In Holbrook, stay in the iconic Wigwam Motel and visit the Petrified Forest National Park. Continuing west, soak up the nostalgic charm of Seligman, the “Birthplace of Route 66,” with its vintage shops and diners. Learn about Route 66 history at the Kingman museum, or delve into regional history at the Mohave Museum. Take the scenic Route 66 route to Oatman, a historic mining town in the Black Mountains, where wild burros roam freely!


The Santa Monica Pier, in Los Angeles, California.

Cruise into California! Traverse the Mojave Desert’s shifting landscapes, passing the historic El Garces Hotel in Needles. Rest up in Barstow before continuing west. In Victorville, soak in Route 66 history at the museum and grab a bite at Bun Boy’s. Finally, admire the San Gabriels as you near LA, ending your epic journey at the Santa Monica Pier, the official conclusion of your Route 66 adventure!

What are the main attractions on Route 66?

  • Gateway Arch: the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, offers a monumental start in the east and its museum provides insights into the westward expansion of the United States.
  • Blue Whale Of Catoosa: a beloved roadside oddity in Oklahoma, the Blue Whale of Catoosa offers a playful stop perfect for photos and a picnic.
  • Cadillac Ranch: an iconic public art installation and graffiti site in Amarillo, Texas, where ten Cadillac cars are buried nose-down in the ground.
  • Oatman: a former mining town in Arizona, near the Colorado river. Today, it’s known for its wild burros, descendants of the animals used by miners, that roam freely.
  • Santa Monica Pier: the historic endpoint of Route 66 in California, this famous pier is a vibrant hub with shops, restaurants, and amusement park rides.

How much does a Route 66 road trip cost?

The total cost of a Route 66 journey can vary depending on several factors, including the duration of the trip, transportation, accommodation preferences, dining choices, and desired activities along the way.

Transportation expenses typically include fuel costs, rental car fees, and insurances. Additionally, accommodation costs vary based on the type of lodging chosen, whether it’s budget motels, cozy bed and breakfasts, or upscale hotels. Dining expenses will depend on your preferences, ranging from affordable diners to renowned restaurants.

Other potential costs to consider include admission fees to attractions and museums, souvenirs, and expenses such as snacks, beverages, and emergency supplies.

To estimate the total cost of your Route 66 road trip, it’s advisable to create a detailed budget outlining all anticipated expenses and factor in any unexpected costs that may arise during your journey. Additionally, researching and comparing prices for your car rental, accommodations, dining options, and attractions can help you optimize your budget for a memorable and enjoyable experience along the way.

Route 66 road trip planning tips

To ensure a smooth and unforgettable road trip, consider these essential planning tips:

  • Book accommodation: research and book your stays in advance, especially during peak seasons (summer months) and around major events in Route 66 towns. Also, consider unique options like historic motels or Route 66 themed lodges for an immersive experience!
  • Guidebook or map: invest in a good Route 66 specific guidebook or map! These resources will not only help you navigate the historic sections of the route but also point out quirky roadside attractions you might miss otherwise.
  • Rent a car: renting a car for your trip is essential for flexibility and comfort, allowing you to explore at your own pace and navigate through remote areas comfortably. Through Rentcars’ website or app, you can easily book the perfect car with Sixt, a trusted brand known for quality rentals. With Sixt, you’ll have the best car to experience all that Route 66 has to offer!
  • Prepare for road variations: be prepared for varying road conditions, especially on bypassed sections. These stretches may be narrower, have less traffic, and sometimes even be unpaved. Pack accordingly and adjust your driving style for these sections!
  • Plan your fuel stops: gas stations can be less frequent on bypassed sections of Route 66. Download a gas station finder app and plan your fuel stops in advance, especially when venturing into remote areas.
  • Research restaurants: many smaller towns along Route 66 have limited dining options, and some restaurants may have unique operating hours. Research restaurants and cafes beforehand, especially if you have dietary restrictions.
  • Pack comfortable shoes: you’ll be doing a lot of exploring on your Route 66 trip, from quirky museums to vibrant cities. Pack comfortable walking shoes with good support to ensure you can enjoy every step of your adventure!

Attention! All efforts were made to validade the information published in this blog at the moment they were written, however, does not take responsibility for inaccuracies or future adjustments that can happen as a result of different offers and conditions. The posts here published, as well as the eventual comments from its readers, are merely informative and it is the client's duty to confirm with and/or suppliers any content that may affect their vacation plans.

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