If there’s one thing America is known for it’s the landmarks. In fact, many of the country’s iconic attractions – from the Grand Canyon to Ellis Island — are as much a part of the nation’s character as they are its history. Indeed, people flock from all over the world to view these sights and get a glimpse of what makes America, well, America. And one such bit of the U.S. experience that foreigners and locals alike descend upon each and every year is Route 66, that famed 2,300-mile stretch of highway running from Illinois all the way to California.
Yes, this bit of road has been immortalized in literature and cinema practically since its inception in 1926. And while many of the original roadside attractions have been lost to the slow march of time, others have remained intact, and some have even been refurbished. So in the interest of celebrating America’s Americana, here are some of the most famous sites on the Route.
There’s something to be said for old-timey coffee shops – especially since their numbers are dwindling each and every year.
Lou Mitchell’s – Chicago, ILL
With its neon-cursive sign out front boasting the “world’s best coffee,” it’s hard to imagine a more appropriate place to embark on a jaunt down route 66. Opened in 1923, Lou Mitchell’s has stayed true to its working-class diner roots, serving no-frills comfort food and donut holes to the eager masses. A great place to grab a bite before hitting the road.
St. Louis – St. Louis, MO
Those who want to take in an abundance of Route 66 glory can make the bustling metropolis of St. Louis their home base and strike out from there. There are plenty of things to see and do, from the botanical gardens – complete with 19th century steamboat replica – to the U.S.A. Museum and Mermac Caverns.
Milk Bottle grocery — Oklahoma City, OK
This tiny brick building sits smack in the middle of an urban thoroughfare and supports a decorative sheet-metal milk bottle on its roof almost as big as the building. Over the years a number of enterprises have called the Milk Bottle Grocery Home. Today, visitors can stop by and pick up a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich for the road. Tomorrow, who knows what commercial venture will be housed within its little brick walls?
U.S. Route 66 Historic Distric – Amarillo, TX
This section of route 66 is made up of 13 city blocks in Amarillo celebrating commercial buildings associated with the highway. Design-wise, these buildings represent various phases of development throughout the 20th century and include Spanish revival and Art Deco. The old-style fire station of San Jacinto as well as the cottage frame of Martin’s Phillips 66 Station can be found here as well.
Santa Monica Pier – Santa Monica, CA
Opened in 1909, this West Coast landmark long predates Route 66. In fact, historical records show that it actually ended further north of the pier. But a road as famous as this one deserves a majestic end, and there are few better than this famous wooden outcropping, with its Ferris wheel and seafood shacks, looking out over the Pacific Ocean. Add to that the fact the Santa Monica Pier was designated in 2009 as the official end, and this generation has the new western terminus of Route 66.
This list is only meant to be a cross section of some of the more iconic landmarks of Route 66. Indeed, there are many more things to see and do along this lengthy stretch of road in a number of other states including New Mexico, Arizona and Kansas.
Keith Arnold is a professional blogger that provides an insight on career topics. He writes for BestDriverJobs.com, where you can find listings for local truck driving jobs and owner operator trucking jobs.