Main Street of America: See Route 66 Attractions State by State
For anyone who thrives on nostalgia, driving the 2,448 miles of Route 66 is a must. The iconic highway has inspired road trips, songs, and animated movie characters since construction on the "Main Street of America" was approved in 1926, back when gas cost less than a quarter a gallon. In "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck dubbed Route 66 the "Mother Road;" a place where migrants came together as a community. Nat King Cole recorded "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66" in 1946--and more than a half-century later, Tow Mater from the 2006 animated film "Cars" was inspired by a rusty tow truck in Galena, Kansas.
After the Great Depression, families looking for a better life could make their way west, driving their way across eight states starting in Chicago and ending in Los Angeles. Mom-and-pop shops, service stations, and motels popped up along the route. Travelers can still visit the Old Riverton Store in Riverton, Kansas, grab a root beer at Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, Arizona, or spend the night at the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico.
U.S. Highway 66 was realigned several times until 1985 when it was decommissioned and replaced with interstates. Modern roadways may have made sections of Route 66 irrelevant, but about 80% of the winding road still exists. Many of the historic sites along the route have been restored, and Congress voted in 2018 to designate the roadway a National Historic Trail.