Route 66 runs across the United States from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California. Travelers drive end to end on Route 66, soaking up the history and viewing iconic stops and attractions along the way.

From statues and monuments to restaurants and historic sites, some of the best stops on Route 66 have become popular tourist destinations. No matter where you choose to begin your journey, add these stops to your travel itinerary to see some of the most popular Route 66 roadside attractions.

1. Gemini Giant — Wilmington, Illinois

Whether you're starting or ending your Route 66 road trip in Illinois, keep an eye out for the Muffler Men. These giant fiberglass statues were originally built in the 60s and 70s to advertise automotive shops and other roadside businesses. You'll see several of them along the way, though the first one you'll pass when heading west out of Chicago is the Gemini Giant.

The Gemini Giant was built to advertise a restaurant after the Gemini space program launched. He stands several stories tall, wearing a football helmet and holding a rocket.

2. Gateway Arch — St. Louis, Missouri

The Gateway Arch is a popular landmark, symbolizing the gateway to westward expansion. St. Louis was a big staging post for travelers heading out West, especially with its prime location on the Mississippi River. Whether you simply admire the monument from the ground or take the elevator ride to the top lookout, this stop is well worth your time.

Many Route 66 travelers also stop at Ted Dewes Frozen Custard on their way through St. Louis. The traditional frozen custard treats here are so thick that they're served upside down.

3. The Blue Whale of Catoosa — Catoosa, Oklahoma

Make a quick stop in Catoosa, Oklahoma, to step inside a giant concrete blue whale. The Blue Whale of Catoosa is one of the more popular oddities you can visit along Route 66. This statue sits in a small pond and is accompanied by a small gift shop. The whale's mouth sits open, allowing visitors to walk inside the whale and climb a ladder out onto its tail or up into its head.

After the whale become a beloved attraction, the owners added nearby restroom facilities and a picnic area. Snap a few photos with the whale and enjoy a picnic break before getting back on the road.

Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, Texas

4. Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, Texas

Located right next to the road, Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation that features 10 vintage Cadillacs half buried in the ground so the tail end sticks up in the air. Additionally, the cars are covered in ever-changing graffiti.

The public is encouraged to vandalize the cars, so they're frequently repainted, sometimes to commemorate specific occasions. Cadillac Ranch is hard to miss because it's right along the road, so be sure to stop and admire the art.

5. Petrified Forest National Park — Arizona

While you can vear off Route 66 to visit several national parks, Petrified Forest National Park is the only national park along Route 66. The fossilized forest here has been naturally unearthed by erosion, exposing beautiful petrified wood.

Explore the park on your own or with a guide, and discover uncovered village ruins and petroglyphs. Each end of the park also has welcome centers, which are great starting and ending points for additional information and sightseeing.

6. Meteor Crater — Winslow, Arizona

Now a National Natural Landmark, the Meteor Crater is the site where a meteorite crashed into the Earth and left a crater over 50,000 years ago.

The site now has a welcome center and lookout points where visitors of all ages can safely experience the crater. The welcome center also includes the Barringer Space Museum, highlighting the crater's science and how NASA used it to train the Apollo 11 astronauts.

If you want an up-close view of the crater and a more in-depth experience, you can take a guided hike around the crater's rim.

7. Midpoint Café — Adrian, Texas

Fuel up with some coffee and a meal at Midpoint Café before finishing the second leg of your Route 66 road trip. Adrian, Texas, is equal distances from both ends of Route 66, which is why this stop is called Midpoint Café.

The cafe and attached gift shop are 1950s-themed, taking visitors back in time to the prime years of Route 66. Midpoint Café serves classic American diner food, including burgers, sandwiches and breakfast.

8. Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch — Oro Grande, California

If you're looking for more unique Route 66 stops, check out Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch. The creator of this attraction used glass bottles and various other antiques, like old lanterns, to create a fake forest of trees. The bottles sit on welded metal posts and “branches,” creating unique trees displaying a glass bottle collection.

This stop is a sight to see at any time of day, though if you're passing by at sunset, the sun casting light through the bottles makes the entire ranch feel more magical.

9. Cars on the Route — Galena, Kansas

Cars on the Route is a must-see restored service station if you're looking for famous stops on Route 66. Out front, you'll see the 1951 Boom Truck that inspired the character Tow Mater in the Pixar movie “Cars.” Cars on the Route also features other restored cars that look like other characters from the movie. Inside, you'll find snacks, sandwiches, antiques and memorabilia. The shop holds a lot of history and art representing Route 66.

10. Santa Monica Pier — Santa Monica, California

The Santa Monica Pier is an iconic landmark and attraction, making it the perfect place to end or start your Route 66 road trip. Ride the Ferris wheel, play carnival and arcade games and stroll down the pier. You'll also find plenty of food, shops and vendors on and around the pier.

Plan Your Route 66 Road Trip With AAA


Plan Your Route 66 Road Trip With AAA

Ready to plan a road trip across Route 66? Start with a AAA membership and our roadside assistance program.

Your AAA membership gives you access to our vast network of emergency vehicles and roadside services. Whether your battery died at a rest stop or you have a flat tire and no spare, you'll be covered with our services and products. AAA memberships also include various other benefits, including access to travel advisors. 

If you need help planning where to stop on your road trip or want to find a bus trip heading down Route 66, our travel advising team is here to help. Sign up for a AAA membership today and start planning your road trip.

View All Blog Content

Top 10 Stops on Route 66
Get tips & advice delivered right to your inbox.


chat logo