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Ultimate road trips – Route 66, USA

The world is littered with incredible roads that can be explored via four wheels or two. These ultimate road trips promise unforgettable experiences, dramatic scenery and a chance to discover somewhere new.

Here we explore Route 66, which criss-crosses its way across numerous states in the USA.

Route 66 pavement sign

Route 66 pavement sign – California’s Mojave desert

Some background to this road trip

Stretching from the Great Lakes and Chicago to Los Angeles and California’s Pacific Coast, the Historic Route 66 was the first completely paved highway in the USA.

Although modern highways have since replaced much of the route, it is still possible to trace the ‘Mother Road’, taking in truck stops and glittering neon lights along the way.

On your way you’ll discover small-town America and many of the most obscure attractions that the US has to offer.

Running from east to west, Route 66 starts in Illinois, before crossing Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finishing in Santa Monica, California.

All in all, it’s around 4,000km, which is why it features among our ultimate road trips. Simply hire a car and choose to explore as much, or as little, of the route as you like.

From end to end, you can complete the trip in two weeks, although giving yourself more time to enjoy the views and attractions en route is recommended.

Hackberry General Store Route 66

Hackberry General Store, Route 66, Arizona

What to see?

As one of America’s most populated cities, there is plenty to see and do in Chicago before you even take to the road, including an abundance of public art and impressive museums.

  1. St Louis, on the banks of the Mississippi River is home to the world’s tallest arch, the iconic Gateway Arch, while the Cathedral Basilica of St Louis, complete with a mosaic encompassing more than 41 million pieces, is another highlight to see.
  2. Oklahoma City is well-known for its cowboy culture, and its surrounds include many working oil wells, providing visitors with a look into America’s mid-west.
  3. Amarillo in Texas is renowned for its meat packing and if you love a steak, you can tuck into an incredible 72-ounce whopper at The Big Texan Steak Ranch. It’s a food challenge, and it’s free if you can finish it!
  4. Situated in the high desert, is New Mexico’s largest city and welcomes the biggest global gathering of hot air balloons for the International Balloon Fiesta every October.
  5. The cultural crossroads of Santa Fe can also be found in New Mexico, and it’s a hub for outdoor activities and adventure sports, including skiing when there is adequate snowfall.
  6. Any road trip along the Historic Route 66 should also include a detour to see the stunning Grand Canyon of the Colorado River – the 277 metre long canyon is more than a mile deep and stretches anything from five miles to 18 miles across.
  7. The urban sprawl of Los Angeles accounts for roughly a third of Route 66 in California, with notable highlights including Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard.
  8. Finally, Santa Monica marks the end of the route, and the beach town’s pier and surfing options are among the most popular tourist attractions.

Horseshoe bend Colorado River

Horseshoe Bend, Colorado River. Grand Canyon, Page, Arizona

Don’t forget insurance

The sheer amount of things to see along Route 66 makes it an incredibly popular road trip option. If you do intend to hire a car in order to try out the route for yourself, ensure that you have adequate insurance cover prior to travel.

Date Created: 03/06/2019

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