Whether you know it as the “Main Street of America” or the “Mother Road” as John Steinbeck labeled the byway in his prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, there is no doubt that Route 66 has consistently caught and held the imaginations of intrepid travelers who seek freedom, adventure and a slice of Americana.
More recently, Pixar’s film Cars, introduced the iconic roadway that stretches miles from Chicago, Ill to Santa Monica, CA, to a new generation of road trippers.
The next time your family yearns for the magic of the open road, relive the glory days along Arizona’s continuous stretch of Route 66. Here are a few suggested stops:
Winslow, AZ. While standing on “The Corner” in this quaint, old railroad town you’ll be reminded of the 1972 tune Take It Easy, music that made both the town and the Eagles famous. Check into the historic La Posada hotel and enjoy train watching, outstanding food and a visit to the nearby Petrified Forest. Contact: (928)289-2434; www.winslowarizona.org
Flagstaff, AZ - This gateway to the Grand Canyon celebrates its Route 66 history with an annual celebration that includes vintage cars, arts and crafts and musical tributes to the Mother Road . Visit The Museum Club, built in 1931, a classic roadhouse famous for their extraordinary taxidermy collection. Classic hotels from the mid-century still line Rt 66 as it winds through the center of town. Contact: (800)842-7293; www.flagstaffarizona.org/
Williams, AZ – Local shopkeepers have brought this town’s colorful history back to life with sassy saloons, ghost-ridden bordellos, cowboy gunfighters and ice cream parlors all eager to serve travelers a taste of Route 66 hospitality. Kids will enjoy the historic Grand Canyon train trip to the South Rim which includes old-time musicians and an occasional “hold-up” by the local outlaws. Don’t worry. The U.S. Marshall arrives just in the nick of time. Contact: (928) 635-1418; www.WilliamsChamber.com.
Seligman , AZ - Recognized as the community that inspired the movie Cars and as the birthplace of Route 66, this railroad town is full of historic gems. Thanks to the work of residents and fans of The Mother Road, the well-preserved quirky shops, restaurants and iconic signage make this a popular stop. Don’t miss the landmark Snow Cap Drive-In for tasty burgers, root beer floats and some good-natured funny business from the crew behind the counter. Contact: (928) 308-8210; www.seligmanarizona.org.
Kingman, AZ – Visit the Route 66 Museum in the Powerhouse Visitor’s Center and then grab a bite at Mr.D’s Route 66 Diner. It is worth the trip to nearby Oatman where wooden boardwalks and vintage saloons are reminders of a by-gone boomtown era when gold hid in the hills. Kids will thrill to the sight of wild burros that still roam the streets, descendants of those that assisted the early day miners. Expect daily shootouts on Main Street when costumed cowboys strut their stuff for visiting tourists. Contact: 866-427-RT66 (7866) www.KingmanTourism.org.
For more history and suggested Route 66 itineraries visit the National Scenic Byways site at www.byways.org/explore/byways/2489/itinerary/59554