Route 66 road trip in the USA - a guide for beginners is written by Henrik Long.
5 tips for the perfect road trip on Route 66
Get experiences in USA can turn on as many dreams as legendary Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. But many tourists "settle" on the 4.000-kilometer route if they are not aware of what they are getting into.
In this article, I give first-time travelers 5 travel tips on how to have the best and most authentic experience of the trip across the United States. And not least how you avoid making some of the classic mistakes that many others before you have made because they did not realize what a size 66 is. It is important to have the expectation vote in place.
Route 66 was founded in 1926 and was then 3.939 kilometers long. In 1960, the route was changed and became a newer and more direct route of 3.601 kilometers. The route officially starts around Lake Michigan and Downtown Chicago and ends at Santa Monica Pier in California.
The long stretch through the United States takes you through 8 states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California from east to west. And you experience 3 time zones along the way.
Set aside at least 14 days
With small 4.000 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66 is no Sunday trip or anything that can be done on an extended weekend. The route requires time if you are to be able to enjoy the trip and immerse yourself in the essence of the legendary route and not just get a superficial image of brilliance.
Each state along the way requires roughly a few days with the exception of the 14 miles through the southeast corner of Kansas that you can clear in a few hours. States like Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and California require at least two days each. The stretch through North Texas requires you to set aside another full day.
The Las Vegas casino mecca of Nevada has never been on the official route, though many travel agencies include Las Vegas in their Route 66 travel plans. But the gaming city has nothing to do with the long drive. It has Grand Canyon in Arizona on the other hand by virtue of its location quite close to the route. It is clearly worth making a stop there. The Grand Canyon is located north of the Route 66 town of Flagstaff.
If you also need time to experience Chicago and Los Angeles, extra days must be set aside for that. Summa summarum: 20 days is a good setting for a trip on Route 66.
Route 66 must be driven in a rental car - not in a motorhome
Forget about motorhomes or 'motorhomes' when it comes to Route 66. There is nothing wrong with vacationing in the US in motorhomes and motorhomes combined with campsites. It can make good sense. But not when it comes to the real Route 66.
The golden age of Route 66 was in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and back then there was no such thing as motorhomes. On the other hand, there were lots of motels, 'motor courts' and small cabins along the route, where you drove your car up in front of the room, unloaded your luggage and ate some good food in the neighborhood and then drove on the next day.
It is on this basis that you must explore Route 66 so that you get the local angle. So forget the motorhome and rent a wonderful rental car instead and cruise off on the two-lane route.
Roadtrip on Route 66 is an adult experience
Despite Disney's wonderful animated film Cars from 2006, which with the small spot Kølerkildekøbing in the center took children and childish souls out on Route 66, the drive is not very pronounced child friendly experience.
The 4.000 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles will be a big - and perhaps too big - mouthful for most kids, unless they are unusually patient and ready to spend several hours in the back seat of the car.
Full-length Route 66 is an adult destination and an adult experience, so let the kids stay home. Without children you can take it easy and enjoy the many glorious small towns and cozy stretches away from the race out on the highway.
Stay overnight on your road trip.
A very big part of the experience at Route 66 is staying at the local motels from the 30s, 40s and 50s, which fortunately still lie along the route at regular intervals. Look for the large neon signs; this is where you get the authentic and historic experience of Route 66.
In 2016, I checked into Boots Court in Carthage, Missouri - a local motel opened in 1939 in Art Deco style and lovingly restored by some passionate local hosts. When I opened the door to the room, the radio was playing music from the 40s - there was no TV - just to set the mood. Of course, the room has its own garage, and by the way, it was the room that Hollywood legend Clark Gable preferred when he visited some friends in town.
In 2019, check in at the El Trovatore Motel in Kingman, Arizona. The price was of course $ 66 and the room was a real retro room. The TV was on and showing an 1960s Elvis Presley movie - very fitting, since I had been given the Elvis-themed room. And that was perfectly ok, because the motel was the real thing with a history that also goes all the way back to 1939.
It is in such places that you have to spend your holiday money. Because this is where you get the real, original and authentic Route 66 atmosphere - not at Holiday Inn Express, Motel 6 or Super 8.
Family owned diners and cafes
Lots of local enthusiasts keep Route 66 alive in the many small towns along the way from Chicago to Los Angeles. And lots of great tasting experiences await you as you sample some of the local family-owned diners and cafes along the route. So give the fast food chains a break and support the more local eateries.
It could, for example, be the cozy restaurant Ariston Café in Litchfield northeast of St. Louis, which since 1935 has served delicious food to travelers on Route 66 without being ruined. And then there is even white tablecloth on the table.
Look forward to a great culinary experience that you will soon forget. In the state of Missouri, barbecue is almost a religion, and you swing past Missouri Hick Barbeque in the cozy city of Cuba southwest of St. Louis, you will not be disappointed. The beautiful Wagon Wheel Motel is even located next door.
In New Mexico, of course, it is Mexican cuisine that is at the center. In Santa Rosa, east of Albuquerque, you can consider trying out the authentic Mexican Comet II Restaurant. Note the many local four-wheel drive vehicles that often stay parked out front at lunchtime - they are a clue about a good kitchen.
You can rejoice. Now you are well dressed for the trip - good road trip on Route 66!
On Route 66 you will come through:
- New Mexico