Historic Route 66, which runs from Los Angeles to Chicago, was once known as the “Main Street of America.” Though it is no longer the major artery it once was, the highway still provides motorists with a fun and nostalgic journey through the nation.
After highlighting the top attractions of the first leg of Route 66, which runs from California to New Mexico, this article will showcase some of the best spots along the second strip of highway, which incorporates New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.
KiMo Theater (New Mexico)
The KiMo Theater is possibly the best-known landmark in the city of Albuquerque, and one of the most unique stops along Route 66. Built in 1927, this gorgeous theater is an amazing mixture of Pueblo style and Art Deco design, with a name that means “king of its kind” in the local Pueblo Isleta language. Visitors can tour the historic three-story theater during the day, or potentially take in a show, as the venue still hosts live performances and film screenings.
San Miguel Mission Historic Site (New Mexico)
The oldest church in America actually predates the formation of the United States by well over a century. The San Miguel Mission in Santa Fe began being built in adobe in 1610, and the chapel finished construction in 1625. The famous wooden image of St. Michael contained within was carved in 1709, and added to the church in 1798. This Catholic church is still active, meaning you can stop by just to sightsee, or to attend services.
Cadillac Ranch (Texas)
One of the most iconic (and bizarre) roadside attractions in all of America, Cadillac Ranch is a 1974 public artwork located 10 miles southwest of Amarillo, Texas. Free and open to the public all hours of the day, the installation consists of 10 flamboyantly painted Cadillac cars buried nose-down in the ground in a single file line. During this portion of the road trip, it is recommended that drivers play some music by Bruce Springsteen, who immortalized the site on his 1980 album “The River.”
Rock Café (Oklahoma)
The Rock Café in Stroud, Oklahoma, takes its name not from the popular music genre, but from the local sandstone used in its construction. The quintessential Route 66 diner, Rock Café originally opened in 1939 and, after a 2008 fire severely damaged the restaurant, reopened after extensive repairs by a local preservationist in 2009. Families with young children will appreciate Rock Café’s more recent history, as Pixar crews researching Route 66 for the film “Cars” visited the spot in 2001. The filmmakers took such a liking to owner Dawn Welch that they based the character of Sally Carrera on her. Several mementos and autographs from Pixar’s animators can be found on the walls of Rock Café, and the food itself is well-worth checking out, too.
From Albuquerque to Tulsa, historic Route 66 has many major destinations and roadside attractions for motorists to enjoy. These are just some of the spots most worth checking out while road tripping across the highway.