Kansas has only 13 miles of Route 66 but it is worth taking the section at a leisurely pace to get the most out of your time in this friendly corner of this former mining region. Then you begin your exploration of Oklahoma, a state that straddles the Midwest and South. Will Rogers fans will really enjoy today as there are a number of Rogers related sites along the route. Those wanting to avoid big cities may want to bypass downtown Tulsa by jumping on Interstate Today you spend a full day exploring Oklahoma with some nicely preserved sections of Route 66 that lead through small towns and rural areas.
Today you leave behind Oklahoma to enter the big state of Texas. Despite the massive size of Texas, Route 66 only runs along the northern section of the Texan panhandle, making for under miles of driving. While the scenery can be a bit dull at times, there is still much to see and do along this stretch. No big cities today, although some might want to bypass downtown Amarillo, which is the largest city population close to , Route 66 passes through in Texas.
Already one week into our Route 66 itinerary! Today you say goodbye to Texas and cross into New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment which has about miles of Route The route today passes through many ghost towns that did not survive the demise of Route 66 and ends in a town that screams Route 66 like no other town on the route, Tucumcari, NM. The driving time is fairly short today giving you plenty of time to do any extra exploring in Amarillo, make small detours, travel at a leisurely pace, and explore Tucumcari.
Time Zone: 1 hour time zone change today! Keep the time change in mind if you have any appointments or tours scheduled today. Note that there are limited options for dining spots between Amarillo and Tucumcari, especially ones that are open in the evening. So just keep that in mind today. This was a very popular Route 66 overnight stop and is still a great place to stop and sleep. There are no longer 2, motel rooms but there are still over 1, in the town. Several of the Route 66 era motels are still operational, so there is no reason to have to stay in a chain hotel here.
Today you really get to see the heart of New Mexico, with a chance to explore one or both of its main cities, Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The route diverges today after Santa Rosa and you can decide to take the older and slower route through Santa Fe or the main Route 66 route used after which bypasses Santa Fe and cuts across downtown Albuquerque. Albuquerque has the longest stretch of Route 66 of any city and has retained a number of Route 66 era buildings, signs, and restaurants.
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Whichever route you choose, both of these main cities are filled with worthwhile attractions. Today is also a good day to sample New Mexican dishes, basically any dish smothered in chile sauce, as you have loads of great options along the route today!
The route splits into two alignments today west of Santa Rosa. An older loop goes to Santa Fe and the post route goes through downtown Albuquerque. Note: The Albuquerque and Santa Fe route are similar in terms of miles if you overnight in Santa Fe versus but the drive takes longer as the road requires slower driving.
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Also note that the Santa Fe route will obviously add additional miles and time to your trip as you still have to loop back to return to Route Those who want to avoid big cities will likely want to avoid downtown Albuquerque population over , You can take the alternative route to Santa Fe or jump on I after Tijeras to pass through both cities. Santa Fe is not a large city but the one-way narrow streets, crowds, and limited downtown parking can make it a bit trying for those trying to navigate by car.
You are better off parking and walking around in the central downtown area rather than trying to drive. Santa Rosa, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque have tons of popular and well-reviewed eateries. A number of them, especially in Santa Rosa and Albuquerque, have been operating since the Route 66 era. Be sure to try the green and red chile — they love to smother it on just about anything in New Mexico! Having lived in Albuquerque, I have dozens of lodging recommendations feel free to ask if you want something specific and you can find more Route 66 Albuquerque motels and hotels in my prior post.
North America's Five Best Road Trips
But here are several options:. Today you have another full day to explore New Mexico. The route goes through small towns, Native American reservation lands, and crosses the Continental Divide. There are a lot of ghost towns along the route that were once popular Route 66 stops. Acoma Pueblo is a short detour worth taking if you have not visited a Pueblo before. Gallup offers lots of historical buildings, a couple of museums, hiking opportunities, and even a bit of nightlife. Today the two towns with the most options for dining are Grants and Gallup with a few located in smaller towns along the route.
Ask for a quiet room and bring ear plugs just in case. Today, you pass through cities, towns, abandoned tourist attractions, and scenic landscapes as you head towards Williams. Stops along the way include a petrified forest, a giant meteor crater, trading posts, and state parks.
A Brief History
So be sure to check the local time once in Arizona, and note that it will actually change as you drive in and out of Navajo land! Flagstaff is the largest city today with a population around 75, which you can take the Interstate through if you wish to skip exploring it. Big city avoiders may want to overnight in Winona instead. Today you explore more of Arizona.
You also begin driving the longest intact section of Route Today is purposely a short drive to allow time to detour to the Grand Canyon for those who wish to do so. If you are not visiting the Grand Canyon, this is a great day to relax and take it slow! The highway goes through a number of old mining and Route 66 era tourist towns.
Although most of these communities became ghost towns, many have again become Route 66 tourist towns and this is one of the more popular stretches of Route Take the time to enjoy your drive, the towns, and your final taste of Arizona. Drive slowly as you navigate some switchbacks and watch out for wild burros! Be sure to check your watches and clocks. This is your final time zone change along Route Needles offers a mix of riverside resorts and chain motels. Campers have a lot of options here.
History & Culture
Today you begin your exploration of California and your drive takes you through the hottest and most desolate landscape along Route 66 through the Mojave Desert. Be sure to stock up on water and snacks, and fill up on fuel before leaving Needles. Some travelers and migrants would drive through the desert overnight to avoid the heat. Savor today as after San Bernardino, the historic Route 66 feel starts to disappear as you enter the Greater Los Angeles area and a long stretch of concrete jungle. No big cities along the route today, although San Bernardino has a population of over , people.
Basically once you get to San Bernardino you just outside the suburban and urban sprawl of Los Angeles and there are no more small towns. Today you might want to think ahead about when you want to stop for meals particularly breakfast and lunch and bring along some snacks as there are few places along certain stretches of the highway today between Needles and Barstow. But there are several dining options in Barstow, Victorville, and San Bernardino. Today we recommend overnighting in San Bernardino but those wanting a shorter driving day, or those planning to make some detours, may want to overnight in Barstow.
The real end is a bit underwheling, so most people drive on to the Santa Monica pier for a much more fitting end to this epic road trip adventure. Along the way to the pier you pass through iconic places like Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
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At the end, say hello to the Pacific Ocean and after 2 weeks of dusty roads you may be feeling like a swim! If you have the full day, a relaxing day at the beach is an excellent way to spend your final day and a pleasant reprieve after driving over 2, miles across 8 states! There is plenty to keep you busy in the Los Angeles area for several days if you have more time or you can start a new journey and explore further afield in California.
There is nothing quite like the asphalt jungle of Los Angeles and its suburbs, and if you are wanting to avoid the traffic and city, you might want to end your Route 66 journey in San Bernardino or Pasadena. Or head in for the finish line and then retreat back to Pasadena or San Bernardino if you are looking to stay outside of LA. If staying in San Bernardino, you may want to stay in the same place for 2 nights see lodging recommendation above in Day 13 of itinerary.
North America's Five Best Road Trips | Outside Online
Today there is no shortage of places to eat and there are more options than on any other day along Route 66 as Los Angeles and the surrounding area has a plethora of options. There is everything from historical Route 66 eateries and ones that predate Route 66 to modern fine dining spots to restaurants representing about every type of cuisine in the world from Vietnamese to Nigerian. Below is only a short list of options! If you would rather stay elsewhere in Los Angeles, you can check out options here.
If you are looking for a more relaxed beach town, consider spending the night in Malibu. So that is the end of our Route 66 itinerary!