Stick to Getting Your Kicks on Route 66

written by Enjoy Illinois on August 30, 2012 in Road Trip and Travel Tips with 3 comments

Since the 1920s, Americans have been traveling along Route 66. Some went west towards the promise of a better life and others simply enjoyed the wind whipping through their hair on the open road.Image

Today, most travelers along the historic ‘Mother Road’ are searching for a true American experience. Although the entirety of Route 66 spans across eight states, it begins in Chicago and heads southwest through the entire state.

The glorious 436 miles in Illinois represents nearly a fifth of the entire Route 66. The link to America’s past boasts the highest density of fun and interesting things to do.

With so many choices of where to stop, landmarks to see and places to eat, planning for a trip along the historic route may seem overwhelming. Luckily, at illinoisroute66.org you can find sample itineraries for car lovers, food lovers, families and more, as well as lists of core Route 66 attractions, a calendar of events and a map of the route through Illinois.

Some of the spots that are not to be missed include:

Polk-a-Dot Drive In

A popular restaurant stop along Route 66, open since 1956, with plenty of quirky charm and fun. (Braidwood)

Launching Pad Drive-In and Gemini Giant statue

Founded in 1960, this friendly establishment has a full service menu and is home to a giant “muffler man” statue. (Wilmington)

Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant

Built in 1923, Lou Mitchell’s has served Route 66 travelers since its beginning. Located at the beginning of Route 66, Lou Mitchell’s has been host to many over the years. Everyone has been seen at Lou Mitchell’s, from U.S. Presidents, Mayors, athletes, authors, judges, clergy, and stars of the stage and screen. (Chicago)

Cozy Dog Drive-In

A shrine to Route 66, the “corn dog on a stick” was invented here. (Springfield)

Shea’s Gas Station Museum

An internationally renowned, must-see Route 66 landmark filled with gas station and oil company collectibles. (Springfield)

Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum

The story of the people and places, and significant artifacts from Illinois Route 66. (Pontiac)

Pig Hip Restaurant

An icon of Route 66, owned by Ernie Edwards, creator of the Pig Hip sandwich. (Broadwell)

Bunyon’s Statue Giant

A Route 66 landmark, this muffler man statue stands in downtown Atlanta, IL to welcome visitors. (Atlanta)

Brooks Catsup Bottle Water Tower

The world’s largest catsup bottle and a landmark roadside attraction. Restored to its original appearance and named to the National Register of Historic Places. (Collinsville)

Henry’s Ra66it Ranch

This amusing and quirky attraction celebrates Route 66 and the people along the highway and offers all things about rabbits: Volkswagons or the furry kind. (Staunton)

Of course this a very small sampling of all there is to do along Route 66, so be sure peruse illinoisroute66.org for a full directory of trip ideas and quirky sights, and make use of the “My 66 Itinerary” function on the site to save your trip destinations in one place. Once you’ve finished your search, simply print out the saved itinerary and you’ll be on your way!

-The Illinois Office of Tourism