North America’s most famous road goes by many names. Author John Steinbeck hailed it as “The Mother Road” and later it was renamed to commemorate beloved celebrity personality and Broadway performer, Will Rogers.
Covering eight states, Route 66 is famous for being the original highway, and over the years it has offered travellers everything from a lifeline during hard times, to a taste of Americana living. The route has changed drastically since it was established in 1926, with around 85% of the original road surviving today. Despite being decommissioned in 1980, the route is now protected and, partially thanks to tourism, is enjoying something of a resurgence.
2016 sees the 90th anniversary of Route 66 so there’s no better time to start planning your All-American road trip. Read on for our guide on the best places to visit on your Route 66 holiday.
Where to stay: Kick off your trip with a luxury stay in Chicago’s Gold Coast district, at the Public. Oozing with class, the Public offers beautifully-decorated rooms inspired by the building’s previous inhabitant, the Ambassador East Hotel. Surrounded by shopping opportunities and historic architecture, the Gold Coast district is a worthy place to start your trip.
Where to eat: While Chicago is famous for its hot dogs, you’ll find some of the best food in the city at the Revival Food Hall. Having just opened in 2016, this 24,000 square foot space is home to 15 brilliant local restaurants and food vendors. Taste mouth-watering burnt ends at Smoque BBQ, fully-loaded grilled cheese sandwiches at the Fat Shallot and Tokyo-style ramen at Furious Spoon.
What to do: Chicago really does have it all. Stretch your legs with a stroll around the beautiful Millennium Park, with its innovative architecture and design features, or see if you can catch a baseball game at the famous Wrigley Field stadium. While the Skydeck at the Willis Tower boasts great views, we think ambling through Grant Park to see the Art Institute of Chicago is a much better use of your time.
Pick up from the Alamo Rent A Car branch at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
St. Louis, Missouri
Where to stay: For something a little different, choose to stay at the Cheshire Inn. A boutique 1920’s hotel, the building is decorated in a Tudor style throughout, with a spacious pool and a daily tea service for anyone missing the good stuff back home.
Where to eat: Try traditional St. Louis toasted ravioli at Trattoria Marcella; lightly-fried pasta stuffed with rich pork, veal, beef, onions, carrots and spinach, alongside a flavoursome marinara sauce.
What to do: From the Gateway Arch to its Old Courthouse, you can witness the history of North America’s expansion to the west throughout St. Louis. Be sure to take a walk through the pretty Soulard neighbourhood and, if you’re travelling with kids, don’t miss the planetarium at the Saint Louis Science Center.
Pick up from the Alamo Rent A Car branch in Missouri.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Where to stay: You’ll find classic décor circa 1926 at the Campbell Hotel in Tulsa. 26 individual rooms span varying themes, including a Route 66 suite and even one inspired by the Rat Pack. If you’re weary after travelling, make the most of the on-site spa.
Where to eat: Despite being small in size, Nic’s Grill is big in reputation. Serving up freshly-made hamburgers, the food here is simple but bursting with flavour. If you don’t mind a queue, get in line to try Oklahoma City’s best burger.
What to do: After you’ve stopped by the Will Rogers Memorial on your way to Oklahoma City, head to the Myriad Botanical Gardens. Home to a stunning Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, the gardens boast waterfalls, almost 1000 different plant species and both dry and wet tropical zones.
Pick up from the Alamo Rent A Car branch in Oklahoma.
Where to stay: Your best bet when looking for a place to stay in Amarillo is the Courtyard. It’s clean and comfortable, located in an old restored building, giving the hotel a bit more character than the usual national chain hotels. It’s in the centre of downtown, so you’re right in the heart of Amarillo’s nightlife.
Where to eat: When in Texas, eat steak. The Big Texan Steak Ranch is a must-visit when in town, especially if you enjoy a good eating challenge. This one comes in the form of a 72-ounce steak, along with a side of shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad and buttered roll. Competitors battle to finish everything in under an hour, otherwise fork out $72. Winners eat for free, so it’s worth arriving hungry.
What to do: On your way out of Amarillo you’ll see one of Route 66’s most famous landmarks, Cadillac Ranch. Created in 1974, this public art installation consists of 10 Cadillacs buried nose-first into the ground, covered in spray paint. Bring your own paint and contribute to its history.
Pick up from the Alamo Rent A Car branch in Texas.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Where to stay: Albuquerque is dotted with interesting hotels, but Los Poblanos is one of the finest. A historic inn and organic farm, the living at Los Poblanos is easy. Nestled amongst 25 acres of lavender fields, the farm boasts an incredible restaurant where you’ll enjoy an organic breakfast each morning, elegantly decorated rooms and welcoming staff.
Where to eat: Dine on a modern American menu at Indigo Crow, and enjoy delectable meals such as steamed mussels, baby back ribs and duck breast with a cherry Zinfandel glaze.
What to do: Take a look at Albuquerque’s past and visit the Petroglyph National Monument. Covered in dozens of Native American markings, still undeciphered today, the rocks here are fascinating historical artefacts, which were formed roughly 150,000 years ago by molten lava.
Pick up from the Alamo Rent A Car branch in New Mexico.
Where to stay: With superb service, the Little America Hotel is a charming place to stay while visiting Flagstaff. Surrounded by a beautiful ponderosa pine forest, the hotel is close to such monuments as Montezuma Castle and Sunset Crater Volcano.
Where to eat: For good wine and quality meat, head to Brix. With a focus on a ‘farm-to-table’ menu, Brix sources as much of its produce as possible from local farms within the Four Corners region.
What to do: On the drive into Flagstaff, don’t miss the huge Meteor Crater, the world’s best-preserved meteorite site. It’s incredible to see in person, almost a mile across and over 500-feet deep. If you’ve got some extra time, many visitors to Flagstaff also visit the Grand Canyon National Park, just 90-minutes north of town.
Pick up from the Alamo Rent A Car branch in Phoenix.
Los Angeles, California
Where to stay: Your final destination is North America’s “City of Angels”. See off Route 66 in style and stay at the LINE Hotel, in Koreatown. Near to local sights such as the Wiltern Theatre, rooms here boast sweeping views over the city and you benefit from Koreatown’s thriving foodie scene.
Where to eat: When in L.A., make the most of the celebrity chef scene and dine at Wolf, by chef Marcel Vigneron. With the aim of representing the L.A. experience through locally-sourced food, Vigneron has created a menu that’s varied and full of character. Don’t miss the braised beef cheek, with Jerusalem artichoke and turmeric peppercorn sauce.
What to do: From Flagstaff to L.A. you’ll drive along one of the longest surviving parts of Route 66, before reaching the beautiful Santa Monica Pier, where the route comes to an end. For an experience that is starkly different to the bustling streets of L.A., stop by Calico Ghost Town as you enter the city. Once a mining town, it’s surrounded by the arid yet beautiful Mojave Desert.
Pick up from the Alamo Rent A Car branch at Los Angeles International Airport.
Use our Route 66 guide and start planning the road trip of a lifetime with Alamo Rent A Car today.