A few years ago, we drove Route 66 – it was one of the best holidays we’ve ever taken. Below are a few ideas of what to do as you go along the route, with my comments and recommendations shown in bold type. This is based on certain hotels and they can be easily changed to other hotels. We took the same amount of time to drive the route but to get the most out of it, I’d suggest taking your time and a few more days in some towns. If you’re looking to find out more before you travel – I’d recommend the following books The Grapes of Wrath was set in the 1930s and they used to camp near their cars, nowadays there’s a good range of motels and hotels!! Billy Connolly did a road trip a few years ago and we used some of his quirky suggestions on our own trip!
15nts, Route 66 Mother Road Self-Drive Tour from £1689pp
– Travel on 20 February 2021 (other dates are available)
– Return flights
– Double room
– 15-Night accommodations in featured hotels, or similar hotels including taxes
– Discovery GuideSM Program Documentation (Electronic Version)
– Car rental (compact car) with full insurance and additional driver
– Room only
– Book now for a deposit of £150pp
Departures from Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and Belfast (some are indirect flights).
This Route 66-inspired tour takes you to some of the best-known highlights along this famous road. You will travel along portions of the actual “Mother Road”, which runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. Route 66 will take you on a journey through historic America. Impressive cities like Chicago, St. Louis and Albuquerque are swapped with dirt roads. Enjoy these charming cities as you visit the diners, museums and authentic petrol stations. Get your kicks on Route 66!
Day 01: Arrive in Chicago, IL
Arrive at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and proceed to your hotel. Chicago is a city with a rich history and a musical soul. From the towering skyline to the smoky lounges where you can hear jazz and blues, Chicago offers a special treat for anyone with a special interest. The most prominent structure in Chicago is the Willis Tower. While no longer the tallest building in the world, the Willis Tower stands proud at 1,454 feet high. A seventy second elevator ride will propel you to the skydeck on the 103rd floor for a bird’s eye view. Visit Millennium Park for a look at the famous Kapoor Sculpture. Inspired by liquid mercury, the sculpture has striking reflections of the Chicago skyline and is among the largest of its kind in the world. (2 nights)
Day 02: Chicago, IL
Explore other Chicago attractions. For a fun afternoon, fair style, visit Navy Pier. Since 1916, Navy Pier has been home not only to the military but to scores of special attractions. The pier offers everything from an IMAX theatre to performances by a Shakespeare troupe. View dancing in a grand ballroom, ride the splendour of a fifteen-storey Ferris wheel, or relax to the sounds of waves quietly lapping on the lakeshore. For a cultural encounter, visit one of the unique neighbourhoods in Chicago like Chinatown or Little Italy. Both offer cultural food specialties and family-owned restaurants and shops. Try an original deep-dish pizza. This evening venture out to one of the many lounges offering live musical entertainment featuring jazz and blues.
Day 03: Chicago – Bloomington – Springfield, IL
Leave Chicago this morning and drive towards Springfield for an overnight stay. Springfield became the Illinois state capital in 1837 with the help of a young lawyer and politician named Abraham Lincoln. He lived in the city until he left to become the 16th President of the United States, in 1861. Visit The Lincoln Home National Historic Site, the Lincoln Depot, and the Lincoln Tomb which, among many others, are the most popular attractions of this area. You can also ride to all the Lincoln historic sites, museums, the Dana-Thomas House and the State Capitol building aboard the Elijah Iles trolley. You can take a free tour of the State Capitol Building – an impressive place (1 night)
Day 04: Springfield – St. Louis, MO
Today, drive towards Missouri. Saint Louis is the largest city on Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles. It was founded on the banks of the Mississippi River in 1762 and became the “Gateway to the West”. Route 66 came through here in 1926 and continued the traditions of travel. The famous St. Louis Gateway Arch serves as a symbol for the conquest of the West. I’d recommend a trip to the top for some great views. Saint Louis boasts many historic homes, such as the Daniel Boone Home and the Campbell House Museum. Take the time to visit Grant’s Farm. This farm once belonged to Ulysses S. Grant, America’s 18th President, and was then purchased by the Busch family almost a hundred years ago. Today, the estate compliments of Anheuser-Busch, is a wildlife preserve. Travel in an open-air coach past Mirror Lake to Grant’s Cabin, constructed by him in 1856. Ride past Deer Park and view bison, elk, antelope, zebras, llamas and ostriches. See the famous Clydesdales in their pastures next to the stables. Around Saint Louis you will find pieces of the past including diners and petrol stations. One place to stop is Ted Drewes; they have been selling frozen custard in St. Louis since 1930. (1 night)
Day 05: St. Louis – Rolla – Springfield, MO
Depart St. Louis. Your next stop will be Rolla, home of the Totem Pole Trading Post, built in 1933. Continue to Springfield which is recognized as the birthplace of Route 66 since on April 30, 1926, officials in Springfield proposed the name for the new Chicago-to-Los Angeles Highway. Traces of the Mother Road are still visible along the streets of Springfield. Take a moment and enjoy the interesting shops and creative eateries that surround the historic downtown area. Here you will enjoy a variety of delicious cuisines, flea markets, novelty stores, boutiques and night clubs. (1 night)
Day 06: Springfield – Joplin – Tulsa, OK
Leave Missouri behind today and drive towards historic Oklahoma. On the way there, visit Dale’s Ole “66” Barber Shop in Joplin for a real bit of nostalgia. Continue your journey to Tulsa. Architecture fans shouldn’t miss the Art Deco façades at the Boston Building, Union Depot, and the Philtower. The Philbrook and the Gilcrease museums are the place for art lovers. The Gilcrease contains a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Oklahoma is rich with Native American influence, culture and history. Visit the Cherokee Heritage Centre at Tsa-La-Gi. Here, you can experience Cherokee life the way it was before it was touched by European influences. You will witness tasks such as food preparation, basket weaving, weapon making and recreation. Beloved cowboy Will Rogers was born and raised in Tulsa. Visit his birthplace and memorial to learn more about his life. (1 night)
Day 07: Tulsa – Oklahoma City, OK
Depart Tulsa this morning and drive towards the Oklahoma’s state capital, Oklahoma City. It is at heart a cowboy town and this can be seen at Stockyards City. It was founded in 1910 and is popular for its restaurants and shops specializing in Western wear, custom-made boots, and saddles. It is located next to the Oklahoma National Stockyards, which claims to be the largest live cattle market in the world. Cattle auctions, open to the public, are held all day Monday and Tuesday. Visit the National Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Centre. Water taxis are a popular and enjoyable means of transport between shops, cafes, and nightclubs here. The Paseo Historic District has galleries, studios, and restaurants in a historic part of town. This artists’ community, which resembles a Spanish Village with stucco buildings and clay tile roofs, serves as home to writers, painters, potters, photographers, dancers, and actors. (1 night)
Day 08: Oklahoma City – Shamrock – Amarillo, TX
Leave Oklahoma City behind and drive towards the Lone Star State today. Continue to Amarillo (and make sure you sing “that” song as you approach!!). The combination of the railroad and ranchland has made Amarillo a cattle-shipping capital. While agriculture remains the foundation of the economy, Amarillo’s location on a famous major highway, Route 66, has given way to making it a tourist destination. A must see is the Cadillac Ranch; this roadside attraction features 10 graffiti-covered Cadillacs standing upright in a row, buried nose-first in the ground. The sculpture is the brainchild of Amarillo millionaire Stanley Marsh III, who chose classics dating from 1948 to 1963. Visit Route 66’s Historic District. This mile-long stretch of road originally belonging to Route 66, now features shops, clubs and restaurants. The American Quarter Horse Heritage Centre & Museum showcases the development of the American Quarter Horse from colonial times to present day is traced through interactive exhibits, dramatic video presentations and live demonstrations. Several locals host horse-drawn wagon rides through miles of scenic ranch land followed by mouth-watering meals. Try the Big Texan for dinner – they’ll pick you up in a stretch limo from your hotel – if you can finish the 72oz steak in an hour, you don’t pay (as seen on TV) (1 night)
Day 09: Amarillo – Tucumcari – Santa Rosa – Albuquerque, NM
Leave Big Texas behind as you drive into the southwestern charm of New Mexico. First on this road you will encounter the town of Tucumcari. Here you will find the beautifully restored Blue Swallow Motel with its famous blue neon sign and the Tucumcari Historical Museum where you can experience the legendary past of this town. Next on the way is the town of Santa Rosa which contains more than ten structures still in operation from the glory days of Route 66. Continue to Albuquerque which is New Mexico’s largest city and a study in contrasts: old and new, natural beauty and manmade wonders, frontier town and sophisticated metropolis. Even the landscape, which accommodates both majestic mountains and vast desert plains, reveals the area’s diversity. Albuquerque is also blessed with a wide cultural mix that is reflected in all aspects of day-to-day life. Places worth visiting are the historic Old Town, trendy Nob Hill and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Centre. Take a ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway. This 20-minute excursion is the world’s longest aerial tram ride, and one of the most scenic. Once at the top, you may like to ski, mountain bike, or just enjoy the view. There are restaurants at both the top and the bottom. Visit Albuquerque in October to see the famous balloon fiesta (2 nights)
Day 10: Albuquerque – Santa Fe – Albuquerque, NM
Today take a short drive to neighbouring Santa Fe, the oldest capital city in the United States. Flanked by crooked streets and Pueblo style buildings, Santa Fe has an old world feel with a central plaza where you will find many shops, restaurants and art galleries. Great for live music at night. Santa Fe is known as the “City Different” because of the blending of cultures which is reflected in the harmonious inhabitants and different architectural styles. Visit the Mission San Miguel. The San Miguel Mission, the oldest church in Santa Fe, was built in 1626 for the servants brought to Santa Fe by the Spanish. View the famous “Miraculous Stairway” at the Loretto Chapel. Legend holds that a carpenter mysteriously appeared to build a staircase to the choir-loft. Amazingly, he used no nails or supports to build the corkscrew staircase and then disappeared before he could be paid.
Day 11: Albuquerque – Gallup – Holbrook, AZ
Depart Albuquerque via Gallup. This small town’s two known Route 66 landmarks were lost to fire in past years; all that remains is the actual road. Press on into Arizona. Holbrook, Arizona became a frontier town in 1881 and it has remained so ever since, only the theme has changed. Historic Route 66 provided a means for those seeking better futures after World War II. Close by are the ancient Native American lands of the Navajo and Hopi Indian Nations. Also nearby is the Petrified Forest National Park. There is an abundance of beautifully coloured petrified logs that existed 225 million years ago. The 28-mile drive through the park has scenic overlooks, wonderful photo opportunities are found at Rainbow Forest, Agate House and Blue Mesa. Part of the Painted Desert also lies within the park where many hardened dunes can be found. These hardened dunes are spectacular bands of greys, reds, oranges and yellows. The area is especially beautiful at sunset and sunrise when the land appears to glow in hues of violet, blue, red and gold. I’d recommend a drive through the Painted Desert, it’s absolutely beautiful. This evening, explore Holbrook’s Main Street for shopping and dining. (1 night)
Day 12: Holbrook – Winslow – Grand Canyon National Park – Flagstaff, AZ
This morning depart for Grand Canyon National Park which is located close to this route on the way to Flagstaff. On the way, the town of Winslow offers The Old Trails Museum and the Minnetonka Trading Post whose façade is made of petrified wood. Near Winslow, you’ll also come across the Meteor Crater, conveniently located near the main road! The crater is a mile across and 500 feet deep. Then continue to the Grand Canyon. The overwhelming size and brilliant colours of the Grand Canyon easily make it one of the natural wonders of the world. The Grand Canyon was carved out by natural elements including the Colorado River over vast geological spans of time. The South Rim has an assortment of viewing areas that can be reached by shuttle or car. There are many paved and unpaved walkways along the rim. Visit the Bright Angel Lodge for an excellent vantage point. The lodge is a historic landmark and offers a gallery, restaurant, exhibits and a great view. Guided hikes also leave from the lodge and talks are often offered by the park rangers. For the adventurous, hiking trails and guided mule rides will take you down to the Colorado River. Rafting trips along the river are also a spectacular way to enjoy the canyon. Flagstaff has a great nightlife vibe, especially on Fridays. (1 night)
Day 13: Flagstaff – Las Vegas, NV
Leave the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon behind as you drive towards Las Vegas this morning. Even though, Las Vegas and the state of Nevada do not form part of this historic route, it is such an impressive highlight that is worth the deviation. Las Vegas has something to offer everyone. From the outrageous live shows to the excitement of casinos, the action never stops from morning to night. Stroll down Las Vegas Boulevard, also known as “the strip.” Each hotel and casino has a distinctly different theme and all are wondrous displays. Take a trip up to the top of the Stratosphere hotel tower, the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Enjoy dinner at the Top of the World, or simply admire the view from the observation deck. Make sure not to miss the nightly fountain show at the Bellagio Hotel. Using a dramatic combination of music, water and light, the Bellagio delivers spectacular performances nightly with its majestic fountains. For a different side of Vegas, visit Fremont Street. This historic street features shops, restaurants and casinos. Above you hangs a canopy screen where more than 12 million lights put on a spectacular show and you can zipline along the street. (1 night)
Day 14: Las Vegas – Barstow – Santa Monica, CA
Leave the glitz of Las Vegas behind and drive towards Santa Monica where you will enjoy a two-night stay. This is probably the longest drive of the journey as you cross California. To continue following Route 66 you must drive via Barstow for a visit to Casa Del Decierto. This restored Harvey House houses the Route 66 Museum. After a brief stop, continue to Santa Monica. Both a seaside town and bustling city, Santa Monica has activities for both young and old, from beach games and bike paths to art galleries and nightclubs, from shopping and fitness to theatre and concerts. Santa Monica’s cultural offerings run the gamut, with over 75 museums and art galleries within the walkable city limits. Not to mention the array of public art and sculpture exhibited in the streets. Visit Santa Monica Pier, once known as the “finish line” of legendary Route 66. It features an aquarium, an amusement park and the famous Hippodrome building, a mix of California, Byzantine and Moorish architecture that has been featured in many films. (2 nights)
Day 15: Santa Monica, CA
Today, spend some time at the beach; with 3.5 miles of Southern California beaches and over 300 days of sunshine, the Santa Monica Beach is a welcome retreat for vacationers and locals alike with a range of activities for everyone. Swimming, surfing, volleyball, skating and biking are among the favourite beach-side pastimes of this area. In the evening, countless dining experiences are available; Santa Monica is the reputed birthplace of “California” and “fusion” cuisines which are marked by an artistic blending of culinary styles and the freshest of organic ingredients. Or, you can choose to explore the neighbouring City of Angels. Visit the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Shop the famous Rodeo Drive, where luxury retail commands the street. Have lunch in Venice Beach, home to famous Muscle Beach, where the sand and surf are secondary to the lively scene of people that inhabit the sidewalk.
Day 16: Santa Monica – Los Angeles International Airport, CA
Depart at leisure to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
– Parking Fees
– Admission to attractions that were not pre-booked.
– Printed Discovery Guide Available for qualified clients.
Please Note: $500 (plus taxes) One-way drop fee payable locally.
Prices are person based on 2 adults sharing and are subject to availability.