Route 66 is an American icon. Running from Chicago all the way to our home city of Santa Monica, we have a special place in our hearts for the legendary road as it (quite literally) paved the way for people to adventure to the West coast.
In honor of Independence Day we’re sharing some of our favorite stops along the historical route. Because who doesn’t love a good summer road-trip?
Illinois: Blue Door Kitchen & Garden in Chicago
You can’t start out a long road trip without a full stomach. We love the Blue Door Kitchen & Garden in Chicago with their philosophy on sustainable and responsible sourcing and a menu inspired by the seasons. Fun fact: They even source ingredients from Blue Door Farm (hence the restaurant’s name) which is located on Oprah Winfrey’s former Indiana property. Scroll through their Instagram feed if you want to get hungry.
Missouri: 66 Drive-In Theatre in Carthage
If you happen to be passing through Carthage, Missouri (it’s near Joplin) Thursday through Sunday, drive right into the 66 Drive-In theatre to catch a show from your car. Hailed as one of the most beautiful and best restored drive-in theatres on route 66, you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to take a walk over to the concession stand for a selection of movie treats (popcorn and candy) as well as hot dogs and BBQ sandwiches.
Don’t blink going through Kansas or you might just miss it. In the short distance between Missouri and Oklahoma sits this tiny vintage market that will make you feel like you’ve gone back in time. Which is understandable after you find out it’s been open since 1925. Shop for Route 66 memorabilia or grab one of their made-to-order sandwiches that one Yelp reviewer said are “out of this world.”
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Reunited with the Blue Whale! 🐳🛣 Built by Hugh Davis on #Route66 in Catoosa, OK as an anniversary gift for his wife. #marriagegoals . . . . . . . #RoadArch2018 #ncptt #roadside #roadsidearchitecture #roadsideattraction #roadsideamerica #roadtrip #bluewhale #bluewhaleofcatoosa #catoosa #catoosaok #oklahoma #flashesofdelight #joy #worklife #historicpreservation #thisplacematters #curbed #wheretofindme #ipulledoverforthis
Oklahoma: Blue Whale in Catoosa
This larger-than-life structure in Catoosa, Oklahoma has become the backdrop for many an Instagram post. Originally built in the 1970s, the blue whale was concepted by a zoologist for his grandchildren to play in and took over two years to complete. While you can no longer swim in the pond, it’s still a worthwhile place to make a stop and snap a picture.
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If the blue whale wasn’t enough of a photo opp, not to worry, you come across this art installation as soon as you cross into Texas. Originally created in 1974, Cadillac Ranch was an idea concepted by a group of artists from San Francisco (known as The Ant Farm) as an ode to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin. The line of Cadillacs range from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville. Today the Cadillacs have been stripped and marked by passersby making it even more interesting.
New Mexico: Santa Fe Plaza in Santa Fe
You’re almost to the end of your trip—time for a shopping stop. Located in the heart of downtown Santa Fe, you’ll get in culture and make some purchases at this historic outdoor shopping center. Some of our favorite shops are Shiprock Santa Fe (Native American housewares) and Malouf on the Plaza (find your turquoise jewelry here).
If you’ve already seen the Grand Canyon, we suggest stopping in Oatman instead. You’ll know you’ve arrived at this tiny town when you start seeing the free-roaming donkeys and the landscape looks like you’ve driven into an old country western movie. Stroll through the main road or buy some Route 66 memorabilia, just make sure you don’t get caught in the mock “Wild West” shootouts. Yes, that really is a thing.
California: Santa Monica Pier
Finish off your trip with a seaside stay in Santa Monica (home of Beautycounter!). The end of Route 66 will drop you off right at the Santa Monica Pier where you can ride the famous Ferris wheel and get a view of California’s coastline.