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Overview

Las Vegas, Nevada’s most iconic city, might be one of the world’s best man-made spectacles, but the natural wonders found in neighbouring Arizona and Utah are just as jaw-dropping.

Visit America’s tallest building in Chicago, listen to live Blues music in St Louis, and dine in one of Oklahoma’s infamous barbecue smokehouses. Be blown away at the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon, let your hair down in Las Vegas, and finish up on the sandy shores of Santa Monica. This legendary old road passes through a variety of pure Americana landscapes and takes in some of the country’s biggest, oldest and most peculiar sites along the way. And it’s true what they say – you really do get your kicks on Route 66.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Whether you’re a foodie, sports junkie, shopaholic, museum enthusiast or music lover, Chicago boasts something for everyone. Browse the stores along the 'Magnificent Mile', and take a shoreline cruise on Lake Michigan to see the iconic city skyline. Take a quirky photo in the reflection of The Bean at Millennium Park, devour one of the city’s famous deep-dish pizzas, and watch the Chicago Bulls in action. Or get your adrenaline pumping with 'The Ledge Experience' at the Willis Tower, the second-tallest building in the States. Standing on the glass Skydeck, you can enjoy sweeping views across the city.

Route 66’s starting point will not leave you disappointed. And, if you want to document the start of your epic journey, look out for the 'Historic Route 66 Begin' sign on the northwest corner of Adams Street and Michigan Avenue.

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Springfield, Illinois and St Louis, Missouri

Springfield, Illinois and St Louis, Missouri

Three hours outside Chicago, you’ll find Springfield – the town which is recognised as the official birthplace of Route 66. History buffs will love the History Museum on the Square and the Route 66 Car Museum, gearing you up with excitement about the journey ahead.

Next, it’s on to St. Louis where you can follow in the footsteps of legendary explorers by visiting the city’s historic sites, including the Gateway Arch, America’s tallest man-made monument. Immerse yourself in the National Blues Museum or, for the real thing, find a jazz club and listen to some incredible live music.

If you have time, catch a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. From St Louis you’ll continue through the Ozarks and meander through the stunning landscape of Mark Twain National Forest. Missouri is also home to one of the greatest Route 66 attractions – the Meramec Caverns, which date back 400 million years.

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Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Cut through the south-eastern corner of Kansas on your way to Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma section of Route 66 contains more driveable miles than any other state. And, on the way, you can stop to see the beloved 20-foot tall cement Blue Whale in Catoosa, one of the most famous landmarks along the route. When you reach Oklahoma City, be sure to check out the old Route 66 motels and numerous vintage buildings, for a glimpse of days gone by.

This Midwestern city has a huge cowboy culture, with everything from cattle auctions to rodeos and cowboy-themed restaurants to keep you entertained. Oklahoma is famed for its barbecue, too, and there are numerous smokehouses serving burgers, sandwiches, meatloaf and other comfort foods – so you’ll certainly never go hungry.

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Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo, Texas

Your road trip continues on to Amarillo, located on the sprawling plains of the Texas Panhandle. This area of Texas was once the buffalo-rich grasslands of the Great Plains, inhabited by tribes of Kiowa and Comanche Native Americans. Why not stop off at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, where you find out more about six decades of Route 66 history? And, if you’re feeling hungry, check out Big Texas Steak Ranch, where you can attempt their 72oz. steak challenge.

Before you leave Amarillo, make sure you visit Cadillac Ranch to see a unique display of art, featuring a row of 10 brightly painted Cadillacs, buried grille-first in the ground.

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Albuquerque & Santa Fe, New Mexico

Albuquerque & Santa Fe, New Mexico

En route to Albuquerque, make a pit stop at the Midpoint Café in Adrian famous for its ugly crust pies. From there, you’ll follow Route 66 to Albuquerque in New Mexico for a great taste of the Land of Enchantment. The largest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque spreads both north and south along the banks of the Rio Grande. You can spend the day exploring Downtown Albuquerque’s Central Avenue, a treasure trove of Route 66 landmarks. Elsewhere, the historical Old Town offers a taste of New Mexico’s Spanish Colonial past, while the Indian Pueblo Cultural Centre – owned by the state’s 19 different Pueblo communities – traces the history of the region’s Native American cultures.

To get a true sense of the Old Route 66, today you’ll detour to New Mexico’s state capital, Santa Fe. Founded on the ruins of an abandoned Native American village, Santa Fe is the oldest capital in the USA. Although it lost its place on Route 66 back in 1938, it remains one of the most picturesque cities in the state. There are plenty of cultural attractions here, too, so make sure your visit one of Santa Fe’s famous art galleries, markets or museums.

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Holbrook & Grand Canyon, Arizona

Holbrook & Grand Canyon, Arizona

As you journey towards Arizona, you’ll be welcomed with an overwhelming display of trading posts. You’ll spot huge concrete tepees that stand at the foot of brilliant red-rock mesas en route to Petrified Forest National Park – the only park in the National Park System containing a section of historic Route 66.

When you leave Holbrook, stop off at Meteor Crater to see the impact of a meteor hitting the Earth, 50,000 years ago. Later on, you’ll meander through Flagstaff and Williams en route to the incredible Grand Canyon National Park – the enormous natural wonder which needs to be seen to be believed. Spend the day discovering the distinct South Rim of the Canyon, where you can stop at one of the numerous overlooks, walk part of the Rim Trail, or scramble along the historic Hermit Road. Visit a Photo Hot Spot, or climb to the top of a stone Watchtower for panoramic views that, on a clear day, extend more than 100 miles.

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Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

Explore Sin City in style, as you stroll along the famous Strip lined with themed hotels and flashing neon lights. You can try your luck in the casinos, dine at world-class restaurants, catch an award-winning show, browse designer boutiques, dance the afternoon away at a pool party – the list goes on. With so much to see and do in Las Vegas, you’ll certainly have no trouble filling your time here.

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Santa Monica & Los Angeles, California

Santa Monica & Los Angeles, California

Once you’ve recovered from your time in Vegas, set off for the Mojave Desert in search of Calico Ghost Town – California’s authentic silver mining town. You’ll rejoin Route 66 in Barstow and continue through Pasadena, Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills to Santa Monica for a Hollywood-worthy ending to your cross-country journey. Park up and walk to see the ‘End of the Trail’ sign on Santa Monica’s Pier – the official end point of Route 66.

As your time in the States comes to a close, you could spend your time strolling along the beaches of Santa Monica or browsing the adjacent shops at Third Street Promenade. Or, head into LA to see some of the city’s one-of-a-kind attractions, like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Griffith Observatory. Universal Studios Hollywood and Anaheim’s original Disneyland Park are also located within easy driving distance.

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