Travel my way on the highway that’s best
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six
It is a rite of passage to travel on the original super highway. Originally running from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California the highway created dreams, fostered in new methods of transportation, played a pivotal part in the war effort, and with each passing tire created a long lasting legacy.
Spanning nearly 2500 miles, Route 66 is a legendary highway with many stories to tell and legends to share. But over years of neglect and decay the memories have begun to fade and now what remains is something for each driver to unfold.
I have explored much of the highway where dreams were made and I can honestly say that the preservation efforts of mini have not gone unnoticed. In fact the legacy of the road still drives countless thousands down its stripes daily. And as long as there is a sense for adventure the road will always welcome motorists.
But where are some of the more iconic stops for taking those perfect photos to capture the memories?
Traveling from Tulsa, Oklahoma all the way to California I have collected more than my share of some of these memories navigating the highway numerous times, each trip discovering something new. While the classic highway has now been converted into a scenic byway, it takes only an exit before you turn back the hands of time and can quickly be in a portion of the past.
Catoosa, Oklahoma - Blue Whale
Not all stops on Route 66 were known as a part of the original road. I fact some of the attractions were added along the way, much like this huge blue attraction.
Once open as a waterpark now the Blue Whale more so sits as a tourist attraction. You can climb in the mouth, up a ladder and look out into the water giving you an idea of what Pinocchio might have felt had he have been a real boy.
Arcadia, Oklahoma - Round Barn
One of the most photographed buildings from the golden age of the mother road the Round Barn is one of those places that when you first pull up is interesting but until you walk in doesn’t truly come to life.
When I first walked up I noticed it was big but walking into the downstairs I was a bit underwhelmed. That all changed walking up the stairs and into a room known for its acoustics and massive size. It was almost like an optical illusion, my mind could not wrap itself around how the building grew before my eyes.
Clinton, Oklahoma - Oklahoma Route 66 Museum
In back to back cities in Oklahoma you can visit Route 66 themed museums. While I love both of them, the one in Clinton seems a bit more photo worthy when it comes to getting those great selfie shots that everyone associates with good travel.
Outside of this museum are a couple smaller opportunities but don’t let that fool you about what is awaiting inside, as soon as you pass through the doors vibrant colors are everywhere.
There is a diner you can sit in with family or dance to the jukebox, cars from various years give you a cool perspective of change and plenty of awesome places to wedge yourself for that perfect shot exit in each of the themed decade rooms.
Amarillo,Texas - Big Texan
Hungry? I bet no matter how hungry you are, there is NO way you can eat your way through the infamous 72 ounce steak served up at the Big Texan!
But even if you cannot polish off that much of a meal, this is a great way to experience some Texas home cooking as you pass through the Lone Star State.
But while you are there don't forget to check out the shooting gallery, outdoor themed bar, Texas sized chair and rattlesnake. (yep, I said snake, we all know how much I didn’t look at that one…) Not to mention if you need to check off a few boxes on Texas gear you can find everything from a baby bib to a shot glass at this stop.
Amarillo, Texas - Cadillac Ranch
You haven’t lived until you have made your mark on the world by spray painting with dozens of strangers! Cadillac Ranch is just the place for you to get to that rebellious spirit in a safe place while actually being encouraged to do so!
Open 24 hours a day, I will warn there are no lights at the property, so probably gear toward coming during the day. But if you happen to love night photography and have a sweet setup, you can avoid crowds and get some amazing and unique images to say the least.
For the rest of us who don’t have it made like that keep in mind it does get pretty busy so coming early in the morning might allow you do have more freedom of movement without dozens of people photobombing your shot.
Tucumcari, New Mexico - Neon Row
Ok, so this isn’t the official name! I gave this section of road this name because it is the most complete section of highway with still in tact neons. Several of the old motels still not only exist but are open to the public for bookings. Improvements made to the area have complimented the original appearance and highlight the legacy of this stretch through large murals, classic cars along the strip and small details you can find throughout this area.
You can stay in a room formerly occupied by Elvis, visit the TePee Curious for all sorts of interesting items, or find a perfect location for a safe photo of you on one of the iconic Route 66 painted road labels.
Holbrook, Arizona - Petrified Forest & Painted Desert
Is it a National Park, sure! But should that stop you from visiting just because you have to pay a small entrance? No!
Upon first glance and driving from the main highway entrance you will not see what all the Route 66 hype is all about amongst all of the Park itself. But just before you cross the half way point of the park you will find a pull off with an abandoned car. This is the actual point of the park which the highway formerly crossed.
There is an interesting historical marker at this point as well a place to grab a couple of great photos. It is fascinating to see just how remote this section of highway has become since being bypassed.
Joseph City, Arizona - Jackrabbit Trading Post
A personal favorite, for obvious reasons, getting to this space you do have to go a bit out of your way off of Interstate 40. The road leading here is paved but a bit more bumpy than in some other stretches of 66 but the pay off of being able to take a photo at this iconic stop is worth slowing down a bit for a stop.
This stop is commemorated in every book, museum and almost video about the Mother Road and is not only a shop for souvenirs but also a great place to uncover a bit of fun for the entire family.
Joseph City, Arizona - Geronimo Trading Post
Looking for some of Arizona’s signature turquoise jewelry? This is the perfect stop for you! Not only can you shop inside for some very unique items but outside you can take photos alongside large teepees, an outdoor village and while posing on huge petrified logs forged from the local surroundings. It is a great stop for everything from quirky fun to some high end jewelry, though from outside it just appears to be a roadside stop.
Kingman/Oatman, Arizona - Cool Springs
Located just between Kingman and Oatman along a long a winding stretch of the Black Mountains is small trading post in an awesome setting. Said to have inspired the movie Cars animation, this former service station is a glaring example as to why this stretch of highway was bypassed as the roads leading to it are hairpin turns which could not have been the most effective for large vehicles and trucks to pass.
This spot sits in shadow of the mountains in afternoon but has harsh morning sun. It is remote, it is unique and it is ideal for more than few awesome photos along the mother road.
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