Route 66 is over 90 years old and definitely, a road less traveled. However, for those with the time, there are plenty of weird attractions to be seen along this iconic road that starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles. For the best experience, stick to the route because each state has at least one unique attraction. Heavy on nostalgia, Route 66 still provides plenty of kicks. So start your engines and get ready for a fun journey.
U.S. Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway, was one of the original highways constructed by the U.S. Highway System in 1926. From its beginnings, U.S. 66 was designed to connect the main streets of rural and urban communities along its route because, at the time, most small towns had no access to a major national roadway.
Muffler Man Statue in Atlanta, Illinois. This tall fiberglass statue is a glorious example of the kind of roadside kitsch that evokes memories of Route 66. For years this hot-dog-holding giant advertised a hot dog restaurant in Cicero, Illinois. The statue moved about 150 miles south to its current home in Atlanta, Illinois, when the restaurant closed.
The world's second-largest rocking chair is in Fanning, Missouri. This giant rocking chair used to be the largest rocker in the world; now, it's been demoted. Despite it being the second largest, it's still a whopping 42 feet tall. Built by the owner of a nearby general store, the rockers alone are more than 31 feet long and weigh about 2000 pounds each, and when they moved, the earth seemed to shake. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, this massive chair is no longer mobile.
The Whale of Catoosa in Catoosa, Oklahoma, and its adjacent pond are hard to miss. Travelers loved nothing better than a quick dip to cool off their journey. When the original owners died, the whale turned even bluer as it began to fall apart. Lucky for visitors, and the whale, the citizens of Catoosa got together and restored the whale to its former glory. Today, people can stroll through the whale's mouth and climb a ladder up the tail for a better vantage point.
Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, is arguably the most famous ranch on Route 66. Technically, it's a few miles off the road. Even so, it is worth the extra mileage to swing by. This ranch of a different color began as an art installation in the 1970s and has never lost its appeal. Visitors are even encouraged to add their own touch of paint to the cars. They just have to bring their own can of spray paint.
The MidPoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas, is quite literally the midpoint of Route 66. From Adrian, drivers are 1,139 miles from both Santa Monica and Chicago. This cafe is a perfect place to stop and celebrate the halfway mark with homemade pie and souvenirs that are as camp as they come.
When Route 66 was the road to take, there were plenty of hotels to choose from. Sadly, most are long gone. But don't worry, for weary drivers, the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico, is alive and ready for you.
In 1987, two years after Route 66 had been decommissioned, Angel Delgadillo turned his barbershop and pool hall in Seligman, Arizona, into the world's first Route 66-themed souvenir store. Some said he was crazy, but Angel believed in the history of the road. Delgadillo became the first president of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona and convinced the state to declare the dead highway "Historic Route 66."
You'll enjoy the wild burros in Oatman, Arizona. After driving the narrow, winding roads of this part of Route 66 is a welcome relief. What at first appears to be a pleasant town soon reveals itself to be anything but thanks to the wild donkeys roaming free. The burros are used to people and not afraid if approached, however, do not feed them. Also, be careful when you try to pet one. Cute as they are, they are still wild animals. With big teeth.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Wigwam Villages used to be all over the U.S. from Kentucky to Louisiana to Florida. Today, only a few remain. The Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, California, is near the western end of Route 66. It's a cool motel where weary drivers can sleep in a private tepee-like room. Each unit even has a bathroom.