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Route 66 and Abraham Lincoln are both iconic pieces of Illinois history. Although the “Mother Road” wasn’t established until decades after Lincoln’s lifetime, the route travels through a number of important Lincoln destinations from Bloomington to Alton and many places in between. To commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, the Illinois Office of Tourism has teamed up with the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition to give visitors a road trip itinerary to go “Looking for Lincoln” that includes the perfect mix of classic Route 66 stops and amazing Lincoln sites:

Day 1 – Springfield

View artifacts and stories from Lincoln’s life at the Lincoln Heritage Museum.


After breakfast, start your day at the world-class Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. Located on historic Route 66 in Springfield, the presidential museum is a gem along the “living museum” that is Illinois Route 66. Here you will travel from the humble beginnings of a young pioneer to the halls of the White House, as the story of Lincoln comes to life as captured through original artifacts, special effects theaters with high action and ghostly images, and so much more. Afterward, step outside where you can look for Lincoln in the many authentic historic sites and stories told throughout the city.

Just a short walk from the Museum is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Here you’ll step into the daily life of the Lincoln family as you enter the only home the Lincoln’s ever owned. A stroll through the lovely historic neighborhood surrounding the home will give you a rare glimpse of Mr. Lincoln as a husband, father, neighbor and friend.

Lunchtime means a stop at the iconic Cozy Dog Drive In – one of the most famous stops along the entire stretch of Route 66. This classic Route 66 drive-in diner is named for the famous hot-dog-on-a-stick, or ‘Cozy dog,’ found at state and county fairs around the country – but invented here. Established in 1949, Cozy Dog is also home to a smorgasbord of Route 66 memorabilia and souvenirs.

A final stop as you head north toward more of Route 66 in Lincoln country must be Oak Ridge Cemetery and the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site. The second most visited cemetery in the U.S., behind only Arlington Cemetery in our nation’s capital, Oak Ridge is home to a majestic monument that is the final resting place for our 16th president, his wife and three of their four children.

Grab a bite and learn about Lincoln at the Palms Grille Café in Atlanta.


Time to hit the open road! Next stop is Lincoln, the only city in the United States that was named for Abraham Lincoln before he became president. It’s not a surprise that it contains a perfect mix of Lincoln history and Route 66 nostalgia. Here you will find a great Lincoln/Route 66 photo op at the giant Railsplitter Covered Wagon – a tribute to the city’s favorite son and the iconic kitsch that is Route 66.

Down the road, step back in time to Lincoln’s day for a glimpse into the life of Lincoln the lawyer, with a visit to the Postville Courthouse State Historic Site. Imagine yourself arguing a point of law in this rugged, brown-frame building – a replica of the building that served as the Logan County government from 1840-48. You will find exhibits that tell the story of the 8th Judicial Circuit, where Lincoln honed his skills as a successful prairie lawyer.

You won’t want to miss a remarkable collection of Lincoln-related artifacts and documents at the Lincoln Heritage Museum, on the campus of Lincoln College. Treasures include dishware, books and mourning clothing that belonged to Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as original letters from President Lincoln and information about every member of his cabinet and Civil War military leaders.

Just as we preserve the legacy that is Abraham Lincoln, communities all along Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles are trying to preserve that iconic legacy of America’s Main Street, and the city of Lincoln is no exception. Before you head out of town, check out The Mill on Route 66, a recently saved and restored original Route 66 restaurant now featuring a museum that tells the story of the county’s ties to the legendary road.

As you head to Bloomington for your overnight stay, be sure to make a stop in Atlanta – Illinois, of course! – for pie and coffee or a late afternoon bite at the famous Route 66 diner, the Palms Grille Café. While you’re there, check out the Lincoln exhibits upstairs for a glimpse into his influence on this small, rural town. Across the street from the Palm’s, be sure to get your photo taken by the giant Paul Bunyon Hot Dog Statue. If there’s time, a stop a few miles north at Funks Grove Maple Sirup will be well worth it for some delicious homemade Maple syrup and candy.

Day 2- Bloomington

Explore the impact Lincoln had on McLean County at the ‘Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66’ exhibit.


For your first stop, visit the McLean County Historical Museum, located inside a beautiful old courthouse on the town square. In the first floor visitor center, you will find out all about the rich Route 66 history in McLean County as well as all the information you need for discovering the Lincoln story along Illinois Route 66. Upstairs in the Museum, you will find many stories of the people and landscapes of McLean County through the years, including many local residents who were Lincoln’s contemporaries as he rose from prairie lawyer to the man who would be president.

 Afterward, visit the magnificent David Davis Mansion, once owned by Lincoln confidante and close friend, Judge David Davis. This stately 19th century mansion and its beautiful grounds will give you a glimpse of the social and political life Lincoln knew. History credits the influence and support of Judge Davis as an important factor on Lincoln’s success in becoming the Republican nominee for the presidency. You’ll also want to make a stop at the Sprague Super Service Station for some iconic Route 66 photos in Bloomington.


Next stop: Pontiac, arguably one of the most famous towns along Route 66. In this charming slice of Americana, you’ll find the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, including the International Wall Dog Mural and Sign Art Museum, the Bob Waldmire Exhibit, as well as a tribute to Mr. Lincoln with the Music of the Civil War exhibit.

Stroll around the town square to take in all of the spectacular Murals on Main Street and be sure to stop by the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum & Resource Center to see some of the world’s finest, and rarest, examples of the former Pontiac autos.

These are just a few of the stops you can make along Route 66. For more trip ideas and places to explore Lincoln’s life right here in Illinois, visit and

– Illinois Office of Tourism

Happy 90th Anniversary to Route 66! Illinois is so fortunate to be home to over 300 miles of the famous Mother Road, and all of the amazing places and unique attractions along the way. This week, we challenged our followers to post their favorites sights and stops along Illinois Route 66. Check out a few of our favorite captures below and be sure to follow us on Instagram for upcoming weekly challenges. Share your best photos with us by tagging #EnjoyIllinois and your photo could be featured!

For more unique Illinois destinations, events and attractions check out


We kicked off our Instagram challenge with this sidewalk sign near the Ariston Café taken by @illinoisroute66 in Litchfield.


Did you know the start of Route 66 is in downtown Chicago on Adams and Wabash? Thanks @tionebv for capturing this great shot!


Too bad this Brooks Catsup bottle in Collinsville isn’t filled with catsup, but it’s a pretty unique water tower! Picture by: @littlerobottindy.


Illinois works to preserve original artifacts along our 300-mile stretch of Route 66, that’s why signs like this have such character! Thanks for sharing this, @bluemermaid59!


If you have never been to the Cozy Dog in Springfield, you have to try their famous “hot dog on a stick!” Picture by: @kate_henmeuller.


We love this pic by @sabrina_chakici… the murals in Pontiac are a great stop for road trip selfies!


Looks like @mykekocet stopped in Springfield to rub Abe’s nose, it’s said to bring good luck! We love these fun traditions along Illinois Route 66.


Have you ever seen a pink elephant before? Well, they have one in waiting for you at the Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston! Thanks for the pic, @michelleherring!

-Illinois Office of Tourism

What road travels from downtown Chicago all the way to the west coast?  Route 66, of course! This week marks the 90th anniversary of the famed Mother Road and all the road trips and memories that go along with it.  Since its creation in 1926, Route 66 has helped small towns along the road grow, including so many here in Illinois. To celebrate this epic milestone and its impact on our state, we’re taking you on a journey to the best stops, sights and grub along the 300 miles of the Mother Road that Illinois is lucky enough to call its own. So buckle up, there’s plenty to see and do along Route 66!

Museums of the Mother Road

Begin your journey on the famous Mother Road right on Adams and Wabash in downtown Chicago. The route takes you down what is now Interstate 55 and winds through many quirky and historic Illinois towns- like Joliet!

Whether you know much about space or not, the Joliet Area Historical Museum will educate you on Dr. John C. Houbolt, a former Joliet resident who played a big role in the 1969 moon landing. Along with plenty of memorabilia, this museum provides a great learning experience for all ages about the history of space exploration in the U.S.


Home to the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum and the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum, this city is a must see attraction for any road trip enthusiast. Stop in to get a feel for the sights and sounds that have kept people coming back to explore Route 66 for decades, such as vintage cars and road signs as well as Bob Waldmire’s van, which carried him on many trips throughout the Mother Road.


As you continue down the road, venture into Springfield, the capital city, to learn more about the first president from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln. Take a tour of Lincoln’s home at Lincoln Home National Historic Site or head over to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to hear how Abe began his life in a log cabin and ended up as president of the United States! For a unique experience, carve out some time to see the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site and rub statue Abe’s nose – it’s said to bring good luck!


Our final museum stop is in the town of Litchfield, a community that has a special place in Route 66 history. Designed to reflect the golden days of the Route 66 era, the Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center features memorabilia and artifacts from past life in Litchfield. It’s a great place to reflect on what an impact this road has had on small towns, and how lucky Illinois is to be a part of Route 66!


Photo by Instagram user @travel_route_3

Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives (thanks Guy Fieri!) on Route 66

If you’ve worked up an appetite after looking at all of the amazing artifacts and memorabilia in the Land of Lincoln, zip over to the Cozy Dog Drive In, home to the famous “corn dog on a stick.” The hot dog shop has been on Route 66 since 1949, so make sure to stop by and snag a dog while in Springfield!


Photo by Instagram user @kate_henmueller

Another funky 1940’s diner to grab a bite at on the road is Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket. Located in Willowbrook, Dell Rhea’s fried chicken promises to be some of the best you’ll ever eat, and was even featured on an episode of ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ with Guy Fieri!


Photo by Instagram user @nathanmichael

Our final dining recommendation (because there are way too many good ones to list!) is Palms Grill Café in Atlanta. Travel back in time in this 30’s style diner and enjoy some of the classics like fish and chips and their award winning pies. Breakfast is served all day, and if you’re lucky, you’ll come in during their Bingo night!


Photo by Instagram user @acspata

The Perfect Places to Pose for a Picture

Since its creation in 1926, Route 66 has been known for its sense of fun and adventure. Many towns along the road in Illinois have kept the fun alive with great places for and attractions for photos and selfies.

If you love the city of Chicago, a great place for a pic is with the Begin Route 66 sign on the corner of Adams and Wabash. Take a selfie, or get a crew to pose in front of the sign; make sure to get the famous Willis Tower in the background!


Photo by Instagram user @tionebv

With more than 20 murals around the city of Pontiac, you’re sure to capture the perfect “road-trip” Instagram photo! From the largest Route 66 shield to unique sidewalk art, the Murals on Main Street are sights you cannot pass up.

IOT Up For Amazing ©Adam Alexander Photography 2016

As you continue down Route 66, you won’t be able to miss the two giant statue men in Wilmington and Atlanta. Gemini Giant, a 30-foot-tall statue named after the Gemini space program, is dressed in astronaut gear and holding a rocket. The other, Atlanta’s Paul Bunyon Hot Dog statue clutches a giant hot dog and stands at 19ft over the ground. These fun-loving giants love to have their pictures taken and are sure to make even the tallest person feel pretty short!


Photo by Instagram user @alex_dumarey

A little bit of history comes with these next two photo stops. In Auburn, enjoy cruising down 1.4 miles worth of hand-laid brick road. The Original Brick Road was made back in 1931, which was only five years after the route was built.

Another famous section of the Illinois Route 66 road is the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in Edwardsville. This bridge is even older than the Original Brick Road, because it was created back in 1927. Make sure to drive nice and slow and snap some shots on these historic roads!


For more ideas on where to travel along the Mother Road, visit the Route 66 trip planner on

-Illinois Office of Tourism

This is a big year for Route 66, and people around the world are celebrating the historic highway’s 90th anniversary. First designated as a road in 1926, Route 66 – often referred to as The Mother Road of America – is known for its nostalgia, charm and classic American appeal. While driving the route in Illinois, plan to see kitschy murals and monuments, quaint and historic towns, and people who can tell you all there is to know about Route 66.

Route 66 is a global attraction, and to celebrate this historic year, the Illinois Office of Tourism is spreading our love for the Mother Road with events in Germany, the UK and right here in the states.

London, England

To kick off this year’s 90th anniversary celebration, Illinois brought a taste of the Mother Road to London with a street party and pop-up mural. Well-known street artist Will Vibes created a 52-foot mural depicting iconic attractions along Route 66, which starts in Chicago.

The mural was accompanied by a pop-up party in Central London and included a food truck with Chicago-style hotdogs, a blues band and a classic car.

Ofterdingen, Germany

A bit further away in Germany, Route 66 fanfare was in full effect at the first ever Route 66 Festival in Ofterdingen, just outside Stuttgart. Enthusiasts of the Mother Road from all over the globe came to the festival to share their excitement and celebrate this year’s anniversary. Festival goers even got to experience the Illinois stretch of the road through an interactive photo booth with fun props and by speaking with tourism experts about Route 66 in Illinois.

Chicago, Illinois

And right here in the U.S., Bow Truss Coffee Roasters recently opened a new shop right at the start of Route 66 in downtown Chicago! A pop-up party brought the Illinois Route 66 experience to Chicagoans. Here, they sampled the new Bow Truss Route 66 Blend, interacted with authentic memorabilia from the Berwyn Route 66 Museum and watched a live mural depicting classic Route 66 stops in Illinois – like the Gemini Giant and Cozy Dog Drive In – come to life before their eyes.

The event featured a 1944 red Ford Coupe, pictured here, and authentic memorabilia from the Berwyn Route 66 Museum. Visitors could even enter to win an official Route 66 road sign.

There are even more celebrations in the works as we move closer to the Mother Road’s official anniversary date this November, like these upcoming events in Illinois:

Stay tuned to Enjoy Illinois’ social channels for updates so you can join in on the fun! And if you’re looking to start planning your Route 66 trip, be sure to visit for inspiration.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Route 66. It’s a road so mythical, you may wonder if it still exists. And yet, cutting through Illinois is a 300-mile stretch of Route 66 that even today captures the imaginations of travelers from around the world. The kitsch, the nostalgia, the people – it’s got all the makings of a road trip that’s just as much about the journey as the destination. The journey down the Mother Road is sure to be one that won’t disappoint.

Summer is the perfect time to pack your bags, roll down the windows and cruise along the legendary road. Below are the must-visit spots along Illinois Route 66 to get your summer road trip plans started.

First up, stop in to Lou Mitchell’s diner in Chicago to fuel up for the journey ahead. This classic American diner has been around for nearly 100 years, serving all the classics, plus freshly baked donut holes when you walk in the door.

Route 66 is known for its assortment of roadside attractions, and Illinois is home to plenty of them. Make sure to snap an Insta-worthy photo at the Gemini Giant statue in Wilmington. And while you’re there, head ten minutes down the road to the Polk-a-Dot Drive In for a burger, fries and chocolate shake.

Gemini Giant

The Gemini Giant in Wilmington

About 1.5 hours into the trip, you’ll come to a quaint town called Pontiac, one of the most famous Route 66 towns along the way. The nostalgia and charm of Route 66 is what this town is known for. Here you’ll find the Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum, a tour of hand painted murals around the town, and even the Pontiac-Oakland Auto Museum. This entire museum is dedicated to the Pontiac car.

“The Pontiac Museum has been a wonderful addition to the attractions found here in Pontiac. It’s the second most popular attraction and is slowly gaining on the Illinois Route 66 Museum,” said Ellie Alexander, director of Pontiac tourism. “Having the Pontiac-Oakland Museum here has led to dozens of car clubs coming to town, some of them multiple times.”

As you continue your journey, you’ll come to an even smaller town – Atlanta. This little town packs a big punch in Route 66 history. Make sure to grab a bite, or at least a slice of pie and coffee, at The Palms Grill Café. Head across the street and snap a selfie with the Paul Bunyon Hotdog statue, another Muffler man.

Paul Bunyon Hot Dog

The Paul Bunyon Hotdog Statue in Atlanta, next to The Palms Grill Café

Keep driving and you’ll come to Springfield, known as the home Abraham Lincoln. But did you know Springfield is also home to the Cozy Dog Drive In? This classic Route 66 diner is the originator of the corn dog, or “Cozy Dog.” Stop by for a true Route 66 experience. And just outside Springfield is a stretch of the original hand-laid brick road.

Doc’s Soda Fountain in Girard was originally a pharmacy built in the 1880’s, and the soda fountain was added to the business in the 1950’s. Stop in for an old-fashioned treat or ice-cream.

Doc's Soda Fountain

Doc’s Soda Fountain and drug store museum

The Ariston Café in Litchfield is one of the oldest along Route 66 and placed on National Registry of Historic Places. Stop in for a bite to eat and then head across the street to the Route 66 Welcome Center to see memorabilia and history from the Mother Road.

Ariston Cafe

The Ariston Café in Litchfield, across the street from the Route 66 Welcome Center

To end your Route 66 journey through Illinois, get a final photo at the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville.

Whether you follow our guide or choose your own adventure, a trip down Route 66 is one that you will be looking back on with a smile for years to come.

– Illinois Office of Tourism