Top Route 66 attractions worth stopping by

Route 66 is known for its roadside attractions, and these are a few travelers should add to their lists.

Some people call it “the mother road” or “the main street of America”. This is the road that inspired Disney’s Cars and appeared in Thelma and Louise. More than anything, this historic highway reminds road travelers of a golden era when people went through life at a slower pace. They used their creativity to create original gas stations, restaurants and hotels. Today, these creations contrast with box stores and one-size-fits-all gas stations. Here are some of the places to visit on Route 66:

13 Gemini Gemini, Wilmington, Illinois

giant route of gemini 66

By Unknown via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

The Gemini Giant, named after the space program, is 9 meters high. The owners of the nearby Launching Pad restaurant installed this huge astronaut in the 1960s. They wanted to attract more business. Now, the character has become an icon of Route 66.

  • Site: East Street East, Wilmington

12 Texaco Ambler Station, Dwight, Illinois

Ambler’s Texaco Station is a visitor center located in a historic gas station. Before its restoration, it distributed fuel for 66 years. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Site: Intersection of old US Route 66 and Illinois Route 17

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11 Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum Route 66, Pontiac, Illinois

Registration with the Route 66 Association of Illinois is free. Visitors will see murals and memorabilia. The workers are helpful and know Route 66 well.

  • Site: 110 Howard Street West, Pontiac
  • Hours: every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

ten Chain of Rocks Bridge, St Louis, Missouri

The old Chain of Rocks Bridge is only open to pedestrians and cyclists. Route 66 motorists will cross the Mississippi at the New Chain of Rocks Bridge and deviate slightly from their path to see where travelers were driving through the Ol ‘Muddy. This bridge is notable because halfway it bends at a 22 degree angle and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Site: 10820 Riverview Drive, Saint-Louis

9 66 Drive-In Theater, Carthage, Missouri

This theater opened in 1949. Today it still shows films on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings during the summer months starting in April.

  • Site: 17231 Vieux 66 Boulevard, Carthage
  • Admission price: $ 8 (cash only)
  • Hours: the doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the show time is at 8:45 p.m.

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8 Route 66 Wall Park, Joplin, Missouri

Travelers will see two beautiful tile murals and a parked red sports car. It’s the perfect place to take some selfies in front of the work of artists Chris Aukerman and Jon White.

  • Site: Near the intersection of 7th Street and Main Street, Joplin

7 Cars on the road, Galena, Kansas

Route 66 Cars_on_the_route

by Gorup de Besanez via Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0

Cars On The Route is a restored gas station, formerly known as Four Women On The Route. This is the home of Tow Tater, the original inspiration for Tow Mater from Disney’s Cars.

  • Site: 119 North Main Street, Galena
  • Hours: Wednesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

6 East Galena Historic District, Galena, Kansas

Long before the United States named Route 66, Galena housed a stretch of road that connected Kansas lead sulfite mines to industrial areas where manufacturers processed it. The section of road that includes the main street of Galena later became part of the mother road. It is the oldest alignment along Route 66. Downtown Galena is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Site: Main street, Galena

5 Rainbow Curve Bridge, Baxter Springs, Kansas

By Gorup de Besanez via Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0

This single-span concrete swamp arch bridge is the only one of its kind to survive on Route 66. Engineer James Barney Marsh designed and supervised construction. During his lifetime he built over 50 bridges and several, like this one, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Site: SE Beasley Road, Baxter Springs

4 Allen’s Conoco Hole in the Wall, Commerce, Oklahoma

Formerly a gas station, Allen’s is now a museum and gift shop. It is particularly noteworthy because its first owner built it from the brick wall of the last building in town, hence its name “Hole in the Wall”.

  • Site: 101 Main Street South, Commerce

3 Ribbon Road, Miami, Oklahoma

Route 66, Ribbon Highway, Oklahoma

By Gorup de Besanez via Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0

Funds were lacking when Oklahoma began construction of a road that would connect Miami to Afton in the 1920s. Instead of building half the mileage, they decided to go half the width. This is how this nine-foot-wide stretch of road was born.

  • Site: E 140 Rd, Miami

2 Pryor Creek Bridge, Chelsea, Oklahoma

This truss bridge was part of the original route of Route 66 and allowed traffic to cross Pryor Creek from 1926 to 1932. Visitors can now walk or cycle on it.

  • Site: Follow E 1st Street until it becomes S4260 Rd

1 Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park, Chelsea, Oklahoma

Ed Galloway was a folk artist. After his retirement in 1937, he embarked on the construction of sculpted concrete constructions. The unique tours of Galloway inspired by Native American art. The property also includes a museum which houses violins carved by this sculptor and cabinetmaker. The park does not charge entry.

  • Site: Oklahoma State Highway 28A, 3.5 miles east of Route 66
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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