US Highway 66 – usually referred to simply as Route 66 – is one of, if not theAmerica’s most iconic highways.
Stretching from Chicago all the way to California, Route 66 was also called the “Main Street of America” because it passed through small towns and was lined with restaurants, motels, gas stations and tourist attractions. in these cities. Again, during the Great Depression, farm families who had been displaced from the Dust Bowl moved west to California. Seeking a better life, they followed what John Steinbeck called “The Mother Road” in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Grapes of Wrath.
Route 66 was decommissioned as an official US highway in 1985 and was replaced by the Interstate system.
However, “federal and state agencies, private organizations, and many members of the public realized that the remnants of the road were rapidly disappearing and that the remaining significant structures, features, and artifacts associated with the road needed to be preserved.” according to the National Park Service. In 1990, Congress passed Public Law 101-400, the Route 66 Study Act of 1990, which formally recognized that Route 66 “has become a symbol of the American people’s travel heritage and its legacy of research and development. ‘a better life”.
The road is still traveled by people looking for the perfect road trip. One of the most famous stops on Route 66 is from Chicago to St. Louis, which is fitting since the route begins in downtown Chicago.
If you’re considering making the trip, keep reading for ideas that will help you create the perfect itinerary.
Start in Chicago
The sign designating the start of Route 66 is located at Adams and Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago.
If you are traveling from Chicago to St. Louis, you can start your trip at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago and end the road trip at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis. In fact, if you’re staying at the Four Seasons Chicago, you can even request a gourmet take-out lunch from James Beard Award-winning Chef Jonathon Sawyer of Adorn Restaurant and Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.
You can learn more about the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, including making reservations, here.
Stops along Route 66
The Joliet Area Historical Museum and Route 66 Visitor Center
Plan to make several stops during your road trip; after all, that’s the whole point. You can start at Joliet Area Historical Museum and Route 66 Visitor Center for maps and information.
The old Joliet Jail
Your next stop in Joliet should be the Former Joliet Jail, formerly known as the Illinois State Penitentiary. Parts of many films have been shot at the prison, including The Blues Brothers, born killersand Whirlwind of echoes.
You can read more about self-guided prison tours and find ticket information here.
Gemini Gemini Statue
When you get to Wilmington, Illinois, you’ll want to stop by Launching Pad Restaurant. You might even want to have your picture taken with the Giant Gemini in front of the restaurant. The 28-foot-tall statue was named after NASA’s Gemini space missions.
Route 66 Hall of Fame
If you are driving west on Route 66, your next stop should be Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, Ill. Here’s why: The bricks in front of the large Route 66 mural are original Route 66 bricks. You can even park your vehicle on the bricks in front of the mural for a photo.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Illinois is “Lincoln Country”, so be sure to stop at Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. The museum has immersive exhibits, so you can see actors in costume at exhibits, listen to a Civil War-era band, and even talk to characters and storytellers.
You can learn more about buying tickets for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum here.
Abraham Lincoln’s House
While in Springfield, be sure to also stop by Abraham Lincoln’s Housea national historic site.
Visiting Lincoln’s House is free, but keep in mind that tickets are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. You can read more about tickets and passes here.
Comfortable dog ride
the Comfortable dog ridealso in Springfield, has been serving the “Original” hot dog on a stick, which has been dipped in batter and fried, for over 70 years – just do not do call it a “corn dog”.
You can find the opening hours here.
Litchfield Skyview Drive-In
the SkyView Drive-In Cinema in Litchfield, Illinois is one of only four drive-ins remaining along Route 66, and it is the only one in Illinois. The theater, which is preparing its 72nd season of film screenings, opens its doors on April 1.
You can find a schedule of upcoming screenings, along with their original trailers, here.
Chain of Rocks Bridge
Located 60 feet above the Mississippi River, the Chain of Rocks Bridge in Madison, Illinois, takes its name from a 17-mile stretch of rocky rapids located nearby north of St. Louis. Attention film buffs: director John Carpenter used Chain of Rocks Bridge as a setting in his 1981 film Escape from New York.
Gateway Arch National Park
A St. Louis road trip won’t be complete without a stop at Gateway Arch National Park, home to both the famous Gateway Arch and the Old St. Louis Courthouse. The 630ft tall Gateway Arch took 2 years to build and was completed in 1965.
You can find tips for planning a visit to Gateway Arch here.
Other stops along the way
There are, of course, many other stops you can make along Route 66 from Chicago towards St. Louis. For example, you can also take the time to visit the Chicago Art Institutehistory Rialto Square Theater in Joliet, and the historic Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell, Illinois, which was Illinois’ first standard petroleum service station.
Finish in St. Louis
You can end your road trip with a night or two at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, which is just steps from the iconic Gateway Arch.
Plus, if you’d rather start your road trip in St. Louis and end it in Chicago, that’s possible too — just reverse the order of the itinerary above. Plus, if you’re staying at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, you can even get a gourmet on-the-go lunch from James Beard Award-winning Chef Gerard Craft of the Cinder House Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis.
You can learn more about the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, including making reservations, here.
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