Six of the best on Route 66
So you want to get your kicks on Route 66? Then put the top down, turn up the stereo and cruise your way to these six classic destinations on America's highway of dreams.
At just few clicks shy of 4,000 kms, Route 66 is the mother of all road trips. Originally an escape route to the west for those left penniless by the Great Depression, it's now a modern day pilgrimage for those searching the All American Dream.
Stretching across eight states, you can drive the legendary road from Chicago (in Illinois) all the way through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and end in Santa Monica, California in just four days flat. But what would be the point? Give yourself as least three weeks and make sure you swing by these pearlers of Americana:
1. Polka Dot Drive Inn, Braidwood, Illinois
Make like a movie star and park up next to Elvis, Marilyn and James Dean at this neon pink diner filled with life-sized statues of America's biggest legends. Originally starting out as polka-dotted school bus serving up burgers and shakes, this pit-stop is now every inch a trip down 1950s memory lane, complete with chrome bar stools and chequered lino.
2. Abraham Lincoln's home, Springfield, Illinois
For a real taste of America's past, drive on through to Springfield and pay homage to a man billed as the State's greatest president. If historical cars are more your thing, then make sure you're in town during the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival held every September with hot rods and vintage motors to boot.
3. Henry's Route 66 Emporium and Rabbit Ranch, Staunton, Illinois
You'll hear travellers say it's the people you meet along the way that makes Route 66 so special. Henry is one of those people and his emporium does what it says on the tin, displaying authentic highway memorabilia and an ever-expanding brood of rabbits. It's slightly bizarre, but like the trucks parked out the front say, Henry and his gang are "humpin' to please".
4. Texola, Oklahoma
With a population of just 47, you could blink and miss this pint-sized ghost town on the border with Texas. Abandoned gas stations and a derelict jail appear their eerie best at dusk. Look for the sign telling visitors: "There's no other place like this place anywhere near this place, so this must be the place."
5. Tucumcari, New Mexico
With a five-mile stretch of neon Route 66 signs, this town gives the glitter strip in Vegas a real run for its money. Kitsch hotels, tee-pee trading posts and even dinosaurs give a real feel for the old Route 66 in its heyday.
6. Route 66 Mother Road Museum, Barstow, California
If you take the original east-to-west route, than this museum is the perfect full stop to an epic journey. The Spanish-styled railway rest house “Casa del Desierto" is now home to a number of exhibitions inspired by Route 66 and the local Mojave Desert communities.