Route 66 was established in 1926 and for a time was known as the “Main Street of America.” Then the Eisenhower Interstate System was established and traffic was rerouted from Route 66. Small businesses shuttered their doors and Route 66 was largely abandoned. Lately a revival of sorts has happened and businesses are popping back up along this historic highway.
If you are looking to take an automotive road trip this summer, consider some of these interesting attractions along Route 66. We’ve put together a list of some of the best along this amazing and historic route to help you get started.
1. Mother Jones Grave – Mount Olive, Illinois. As you head west from Chicago through Illinois, you will pass many historic markers and pieces of Illinois and United States history. At Mount Olive, the Mother Jones Memorial is a must-see. Mother Jones was an advocate for the common American blue-collar worker, and worked tirelessly until her death at 100 years of age to improve treatment of coal miners. She was also involved in several mine wars and riots. She is buried in the Union Miners’ Cemetery along Route 66.
2. Mark Twain National Forest. When you get to Missouri, you may want to camp out overnight before continuing westward. The Mark Twain National Forest was established in 1938 and lies in the southern half of Missouri. The forest encompasses miles of beautiful hills and forests, and provides visitors with a calm place to relax and enjoy nature.
3. Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge. This single-span concrete arched bridge crosses Brush Creek just two miles west of Riverton, Kansas. It is the last surviving Marsh arch bridge on Route 66, and has recently been restored. When you travel the 13 miles of Route 66 in the Sunflower State, this beautiful structure is definitely something you want to stop and photograph.
4. J.M. Davis Arms Museum. Continuing into Oklahoma, you’ll travel through both Tulsa and Oklahoma City. Just outside of Tulsa is Claremore and the J.M. Davis Arms Museum. Whether you are a gun enthusiast, a history buff or just want to see something amazing, this is a must-see. The museum contains over 50,000 firearms and other historic pieces, and boasts the largest private firearms collection in the world. You won’t be able to see everything in one day, but it will sure be fun to try!
5. Cadillac Ranch. Next up is Texas, and as you go through Amarillo, take the time to stop by the famous Cadillac Ranch which Chris Ledoux memorialized in his song of the same name. The Cadillac Ranch began as a Cadillac museum and art gallery and has grown over the years. It’s definitely a stop you don’t want to skip.
6. Grand Canyon Caverns. In Peach Springs, Arizona lies the Grand Canyon Caverns, 230 feet below the ground. The caverns are massive and have not fully been explored. You can take tours during the day and see the different areas, as well as provisions that the government stored in the caverns during the 1963 Cuban Missile Crisis to sustain local citizens in case of an emergency.
An automotive road trip along Route 66 is a great way to spend some time with family and friends. This vacation is inexpensive and laid-back; you won’t have restrictions on your time or a schedule to keep.