Today, Route 66 has been decommissioned as a federal highway, but many parts of the 2,400 mile historic roadway still exist and hold a particular appeal to bikers who want a taste of that good ol’ sense of freedom.
Our trip starts in Chicago following the iconic Route 66 ‘til its very end in Santa Monica. It does not matter if you are lucky enough to live near one of its ends or -like us- you have to take a plane and rent a motorcycle, let’s wrap our things up and get this trip started.
Route 66 complete itinerary
Day 1: Chicago
Chicago is definitely a city worth spending time visiting. Take the day to see some of the city’s landmarks, as Field Museum of Natural History and the Sears Tower Skydeck, will you dare to stand out? Make sure to visit the symbolic starting point of Route 66: the Art Institute of Chicago in Grant Park. (Chicago’s last official US-66 sign used to hang from a streetlight just south of the gallery.) While you’re in the area, drive down Jackson Boulevard and grab coffee or a meal at Lou Mitchell’s diner. An historical route diner which will definitely get you started on the trip feelings.
Day 2: Chicago to Saint Louis
Finally we are on the road heading south toward Saint Louis for approximately 300 miles. A fair amount of miles that allows you to get to St.Louis at a decent time. Route 66 Assosiation Hall of Dame & Museum in Pontiac is a must see.
Day 3: Saint Louis
Could we pass on visiting St. Louis? Of course not. City’s iconic Gateway Arch is simply breathtaking, especially if you go all the way to the top. Worth visiting is National Blues Museum also, a place filled with interactive exhibits and artifacts that explore Blues history and regional variations.
Day 4: Saint Louis to Tulsa
On the road again, this time for approximately 400 miles. Heading southwest, is possible to take a detour to the Meramec Caverns where legend has it that outlaw Jesse James made his hideout in the 1800s. Near our destination is possible to visit the Blue Whale of Catoosa, a 80-foot-long statue that’s been entertaining visitors since the 1970s.
Day 5: Tulsa to Oklahoma City
Riding into Oklahoma City, a stop at Pops in Arcadia is mandatory. The 66-foot-tall neon soda bottle is a suggestive sight while sipping on one of the 700 flavored beverages they serve. In Oklahoma City we recommend visiting Oklahoma City National Memorial and museum located downtown.
Day 6: Oklahoma City to Amarillo
Today we are on 280 miles ride to Amarillo visiting, on our way, Devil’s Rope Museum in McLean where is possible to learn all there is to know about barbed wire. Right out of Amarillo you cannot miss out on visiting the famous Cadillac Ranch, created in 1974 by three artists from San Francisco.
Day 7: Amarillo to Albuquerque
On our way to Albuquerque, Adrian -the halfway point between Chicago and Los Angeles- is a must see location. Our trip proceeds in Tucumcarito end in Albuquerque. Definitely the “best-preserved” portion of Route 66.
Day 8: Albuquerque
It is time to take a day off and visit Albuquerque. Worth visiting the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and Sandia Peak Tramway desert scenery. An Albuquerque must see is the Petroglyph National Monument, a trail filled with volcanic rocks curved by Native Americans and early Spanish settlers.
Day 9: Albuquerque to Flagstaff
On the road again, for approximately 340 miles. Acoma Pueblo – located at about an hour from Albuquerque- is our first stop for the day. The oldest inhabited community in the U.S is definitely worth a visit. No more stops along our way to Flagstaff.
Day 10: Flagstaff
Cannot miss out on an outdoor adventure here in Flagstaff. Red Rock State Park in Sedona, home of the red sandstone canyon. For wood fans there is the the Coconino National Forest where is possible to see Ponderosa pines. Last but not least: Walnut Canyon National Monument.
Day 11: Flagstaff to Barstow
Time to hit the road, today heading west for about 510 miles.Before leaving Arizona is mandatory to stop at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In, a classic Route 66 diner. Bye Bye Arizona and Welcome California! Stop for the night in Barstow, a classic crossroads for desert travelers.
Day 12: Barstow to Los Angeles
Today is the day, our last 130 miles of Route 66. Riding into Los Angeles is exciting. Standing in front of the Route 66 sign on the Santa Monica Pier fulfills our egos of pride and sense of accomplishment. At the end of the day, when the road trip is over, is all about the feelings experienced along the way.
Route 66: Freedom and Happiness factory!
Have you ever done a Route 66 self drive motorcycle tour? Did you visit the places we suggest, share your experience with us, leave a comment.