Route 66 Significance
You hear about it in songs and on TV all the time but what is it really? Route 66 is one of the nation's first highways that linked many rural communities to larger cities and helped the transportation of goods such as grains by farmers. Many people used Route 66 to migrate across the country, especially in the 1930s when things became very dry and dust storms known as the "dust bowl" caused a lot of damage to farming communities. Route 66 was there again when another migration happened after WWII when soldiers who has experienced the warmer climates of California and surrounding areas, decided to locate there permanently from the colder areas near Chicago. Over time merchants realized that Route 66 was going to be a gold mine and things like restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and tourist attractions speckled the highway. Eventually Route 66 was bypassed in the 80's by the new interstate system and was no longer considered part of the highway system. While it's not technically a highway anymore it's still a great route to travel and you can find tons of camping and leisure opportunities along this great stretch.
The beginning of Route 66 is in Chicago, IL which is an amazing city to visit. Huge buildings, lots to do, and tons of people all bordered but Lake Michigan. While you won't find quaint camping in the city there are a lot of areas just outside Chicago where you can find amazing campgrounds.
The first place you want to visit when you hit Chicago is Grant Park where Route 66 begins (or ends depending on which way you're going). Grant Park is pretty big and inside it you will actually find two other parks, Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park. In the Millennium Park area you will find sculptures and and other artistic features from different artists. In the Maggie Daley Park area you will find a Lakefront recreation area with a skating ribbon and a field house for seasonal programs. Find your way to the center of Grant Park and have a picnic near Buckingham Fountain which has been there been there since 1927! Other features located in and on the edge of Grant Park include the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum Campus, Petrillo Music Shell, Congress Plaza, Hutchinson Field, two marinas, and a skate park!
While in Chicago you can't leave without checking out Navy Pier. Construction of Navy Pier began in 1914 and it opened in 1916 as a 1.5 mile long pier for recreation and freight and passenger ships to dock. During WWI this pier housed soldiers along with Home Defence and Red Cross units. Navy Pier has undergone many changes over the years and today you can take daily cruises around Lake Michigan, watch a movie, get in some shopping, dine in some of the city's best restaurants, watch the Tall Ships when they're in the area, and take a ride on the giant ferris wheel! There's so much to do at Navy Pier you could spend an entire day there and still not want to leave. Check out everything they have to offer at their website.
Baseball fans will want to make their way to Wrigley Field to catch a Chicago Cubs game! While at the field you can take a tour of the entire place and get behind the scenes info on this amazing ball park. You'll get to see the seating bowl, press box, bleachers, visitor's clubhouse, the Cubs' dugout, and the field itself if you go on a day when there is not game. If you go on game day then you'll see the seating bowl, upper deck, bleachers, the Jack Daniels Patio, and the field. You'll enjoy premium food and beverages from the many concessions stands at Wrigley Field and can pick up great Cubs gear from the kiosks and booths! Check out the schedule to plan your visit today!
Stand over the massive city of Chicago on the skydeck where you can look down and see the streets under your feet from 1,353 feet up. As you make your way up through the tower you can stop to play trivia, check out the huge 103 sculpture, watch a movie on how Chicago came to be what it is, and look out on the city and see the skyscrapers like never before. You can even plan an entire date night at the tower if you want to have some time with your loved one!
Lincoln Park Zoo
Check out this great zoo that is free to get into! You'll find monkeys, tigers, red panda, lemurs, aardvark, lions, snakes, bears, crocodile, rhino, tons of birds, zebra, and much more! You can learn a lot about these animals during your visit, enjoy many different restaurants, get wonderful souvenirs, and join in on daily activities such as "meet the animal", "Great ape training session", and "Seal feeding and training"
Once you have had your fill of the land and air animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo, head over to Shedd Aquarium to see some aquatic animals! They have amazing exhibits with animals from different areas such as "Amazon Rising", "Caribbean Reef", "Polar Play Zone", "Wild Reef", "At Home on the Great Lakes", "Water of the World", Abbott Oceanarium", and other special exhibits. You can watch an aquatic show with information on beluga whales, sea lions, and dolphins. Head over to the Stingray touch experience where you can reach in and feel the texture and movement of the stingrays as they swim by you. If you get hungry you can grab a bite to eat at the cafes and then pick up some souvenirs from the gift shop!
St. Louis, MO
St. Louis, MO is the next destination city on our journey down Route 66. Located along the Mississippi River, St. Louis is the 2nd largest city in the state of MO. As you can probably guess, there are tons of things to do here and plenty of places to stay.
Camping at Safari RV Park
To avoid setting up your rig in a parking lot, we recommend staying just outside the city. Located in East St. Louis you can find Safari RV Park where you will have a cozy place to stay! Here you will enjoy free wifi, showers, laundry facilities, full hookups, and 30/50 amp electrical connections. Since you're just 10 minutes from downtown, you should have no problem finding something fun and exciting to do!
The Gateway Arch was built as a memorial to the early expansion of the west with such pioneers in mind as Thomas Jefferson. You can actually check out the top if the 630 foot arch which has 63 stories! You can just ride the tram to the top where you will find an observation deck that will allow you to see for 30 miles in all directions. You can stay at the top of the arch for as long as you want and then just hop back on the tram and head back down. Just beneath the arch you can check out "Monument to the Dream" which is a documentary on the arch from the time it was dreamed up until it's last piece was put in place.
If you love rides then get ready for the ultimate amusement park when you visit Six Flags! With tons of thrill rides, rides for the family, rides that are specifically for kids, and a water park, you'll see smiles all around! Six Flags has bands, dance teams, choirs, and performing arts groups that you can see while you're in the park and the kids (and kids at heart) can meet and get their picture taken with their favorite Looney Tunes character! With food from the US, asian cuisine, italian fare and mexican food, you will find something for everyone when it's time to eat.
The Magic House
Watch the wonder on your kids' faces as they explore The Magic House children's museum. Check out the Children's Village where they can use tools to fix a car, pretend to serve pizza in the restaurant, climb the ladder to the tree house, stock the shelves of the grocery store, and lots more! The Wonder Works area allows them to get into all kinds of things like digging in the sand, check out creatures under a microscope, and crawl through tunnels. There's even a special section for the really little ones where babies can play in the peek-a-boo house, play on the baby gym, and sing wheels on the bus! This place is the ultimate kids' destination so if you have little ones, make sure you fit this one into your trip on the way through.
Named "best city park" by USA Today, Forest Park is a breathtaking urban park that has been open since 1876. This park is full of cultural institutions such as the Missouri History Museum, The Muny outdoor musical theater, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and the Saint Louis Zoo. As you wander the 1,371 acres you'll find Flegel Falls, John F. Kennedy Memorial Forest, and Pagoda Circle. While you're in the park you can play a game of golf, go boating, rent a bike, and have a picnic.
Laumeier Sculpture Park
If you're into art, check out Laumeier Sculpture Park. Here you will find all kinds of sculptures from many different artist that change throughout the year. They have an annual art fair in May, a Harvest Festival in October, and many different events that are scheduled throughout the year. Some collections that have been found at Laumeier Sculpture Park include Raqs Media Collective, Dog Days of Summer, and works by Sue Eisler.
One of the many Springfields in the US is the next stop on our Route 66 road trip! Springfield, MO is the 3rd largest state in Missouri and is nicknamed the "Queen City of the Ozarks." This is the birthplace of Route 66 as this is where the name was proposed, and the "wild west" because of the Wild Bill Hickok shootout.
Camping at Springfield/Route 66 KOA Campground
Park your rig at the Springfield/Route 66 KOA campground for a great night's rest. You'll enjoy electrical hookups, propane for sale, cable TV, a basketball court, laundry facilities, a playground for the kids, and a camp store. The Springfield/Route 66 is pet friendly so if you're taking your trip with 4 legged friends, they will be cozy here! This campground is close to a lot of the things that Springfield has to offer so you won't have to go too far to get in your fun.
Take a ride through a cave and see all the underground formations. This cave was discovered in 1862 by a curious dog who crawled through the entrance. Five years later there was an exploration that took place through the cave. This is a delicate cave so they take you through it in a jeep that pulls trams behind it in order to ensure no one gets hurt.
Built in 1913, the Pythian Castle was constructed by the Knights of Pythias for orphans of their organization. During WWII it was used as part of the O'Reilly General Hospital to house injured military men and POWs in the back. Today this beautiful castle is privately owned and you can have a few experiences here. You can take a history tour and learn more about the castle, those that have occupied it, and much more. Other options are a ghost tour as this castle is said to be haunted. These are done either in the day or night, whichever you prefer. When you're ready for dinner sit down for an entertaining murder mystery experience.
Dickerson Park Zoo
Another fantastic zoo along Route 66 is the Dickerson Park Zoo. Here you will get to see hippo, tigers, zebra, ostrich, giraffe, leopards, and much more. While you're there you can play on the playground, ride the Titus Express Train, and visit the Safari Trading Company Gift Shop. You can pack a picnic and enjoy it in the park outside the zoo, or they have a cafe with hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, and chicken strips, or a number of snacks.
The rolling green hills of Tulsa, Oklahoma are up next on this fun filled tour of the western US. Known as one of "America's Most Livable Communities", Tulsa has a very homey feel. The river parks are the perfect place to relax and check out some of the great works of art found here.
Camping at Mingo RV Park
Mingo RV Park is in Tulsa and they have a ton to offer. Here you will find large sites with full hookups and cable TV. These sites are pull through and the park offers modern restrooms and showers as well as a laundry facility. Take advantage of the rec room, playground, arcade games, and pool tables while you're here to really top off your stay.
Oxley Nature Center
The Mary K. Oxley Nature Center will give you an up close look at wildlife and plants that you may forget to stop and appreciate on a daily basis. You will find butterflies, more than 200 different types of birds, different types of insects, turtles, snakes, bobcat, mink, beaver, and much more.
Tulsa Raceway Park
Check out a monster truck tally, drag race, or mud bog at the Tulsa Raceway Park! You can go to this raceway to watch, or if you have something in your toy hauler, bring it down and get in on the race yourself. This race track has been the spot for many NHRA finals, lots of Spring Nationals, and is well known to the area.
Whispering Vines Vineyard & Winery
Head out for some wine tasting at Whispering Vines Vineyard & Winery. You'll find Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Sweet Pinot Noir, Concord, and Sweet Rose grapes that they make their wine from. With a selection of 13 types of wines you'll be hard pressed not to find at least one bottle you want to bring home.
Oklahoma City, OK
Next up on our amazing road trip is Oklahoma City, OK! The capital and largest city in Oklahoma, OK City has much to offer. Here you will find it can get pretty humid and the temperature tends to vary. Make sure to pack different types of clothing and dress in layers, as you never know what you will get.
Camping at Twin Fountains RV Resort
The Twin Fountains RV Resort is waiting for your arrival with 26' wide paved roads, 40' flat concrete pad sites with full hookups, large bathroom facilities, and a hot tub and pool! Other amenities you'll find include a salon and spa, laundry facilities, propane, a fishing pond, bike rentals, convenience store, mini golf, and dine in or carry out pizza!
Oklahoma City National Memorial
The Oklahoma City bombing occurred on April 19, 1995 and killed 168 people and injured 680 more. This explosion had a huge impact not only on Oklahoma City but the entire nation. Today you can visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial site and pay respects to those who lost their lives, as well as all those whose lives have been changed forever as a result of it. You can check out both the outdoor symbolic memorial and then head into the memorial museum where you'll find interactive displays that tell the story of the bombing and what ensued afterward.
45th Infantry Division Museum
You'll enjoy free admission here, where you can tour the 27,000 square feet of exhibits and the 15 acre park. You'll be able to see the Reaves Military Weapons Collection, The Hall of Flags, WWII section, The Chapel, and much more! You will learn a lot about this area of the military in a fun and exciting adventure.
White Water Bay
Cool off at White Water Bay on one of the many wet n' wild water slides, take a raft ride down Keelhaul Falls, or take on the waves as a family in the Monsoon Bay Wave Pool! You'll find 8 slides, 5 family rides, and 2 raft rides that offer an entire day of fun! Grab a bite to eat at the Coral Reef Cafe or Cordell's BBQ Stand. Lots of tasty treats can be found around the park at places like Island Sno, Funnel Cakes & Ice Cream, Gilligan's Galley, and Salty's!
Ah, the state of Texas, where everything is huge including the steaks and the belt buckles. We're headed to the 14th most popular city in Texas and stopping in Amarillo, named so after the Spanish word for yellow. This name is most likely attributed to the large amounts of yellow wildflowers that can be found here, or the somewhat yellow soil that runs along the banks and shores.
Oasis RV Resort
Here you will find Oasis RV Resort, with 188 full service RV sites, 147 of them pull thru. Each site offers a private picnic patio, 20/30/50 amp electric, cable TV, and free wifi. You'll enjoy amenities such as a heated outdoor pool, 2 spas, an exercise room, clean restrooms with showers, a gift shop, and on-site full service propane!
Bill's Backyard Classics
If you like cars, you'll be in heaven at Bill's Backyard Classics, because they've got all kinds! Starting from cars made in the 1920's up until now, they change out their inventory often so you can see something new every time. Not only will you get to check out these old beauties, but you can do so knowing a portion of your entrance fee will go to help the Children's Miracle Network!
Texas Air & Space Museum
Here you will find exhibits on the history of flight, and tons of information on important people and pilots, airports, wars, different types of aircrafts, and model planes. They even have photos that have been pulled out of a time capsule from 1954! See attractions from NASA as well, such as the training aircraft where many astronauts learned to deal with descent rate and drag profile.
Splash Kingdom Amarillo
Another water park to cool you off on your trip down Route 66 is Splash Kingdom. Here, you'll find body slides, a wave pool, a lazy river, kids' play area, mat slides, and even sand volleyball. Enjoy your meals right at the park with the full menu for both adults and kids, with tons of options for dessert as well!
Cowgirls and Cowboys in the West
Get in on what makes Texas what it is and experience what it's like to be a cowboy or cowgirl. Go horseback riding, take tours to places such as Palo Duro Canyon, enjoy the chuckwagon meal events when available, or check out the Comanche Moon Ride if you'll be around long enough! The Comanche Moon Ride is a 5 day horseback tour.
Headed into the deserts of New Mexico, we're a little over halfway through Route 66. Found in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande, Albuquerque is the 32nd largest city in the US.
Camping at Enchanted Trails RV Park & Trading Post
Stopping in Albuquerque will place you at Enchanted Trails RV Park & Trading Post. Surrounded by inactive volcanoes, you'll have an amazing view of Albuquerque. Here, you will find 115 pull thru sites with full hookups, free wifi, propane, and RV supplies. While you're visiting you can utilize the heated swimming pool and spa, laundry facilities, a lounge with a TV, and a billiard room.
Sandia Peak Tramway
Stop here in Albuquerque for the view of a lifetime! Ride above the canyons and amazing terrain in a tram, where you can take in the views from almost 3 miles up. As you find your way to the observation deck, you can watch the sunset, hike through Cibola National Forest, look out over the Rio Grande Valley, and check out the Land of Enchantment!
Albuquerque Balloon Museum
One of the most popular things in New Mexico is the hot air balloon, so it makes sense that they would have a museum dedicated to them. Stop here and learn how and why these balloons fly, the science of air hot balloons and parachutes, and how they used balloons in war!
Petroglyph National Monument
Swing by this attraction and discover the history of early Native Americans and Spanish Settlers from 400 to 700 years ago. The national monument contains and protects petroglyphs, the designs and symbols that were carved into volcanic rock. Hike Mesa Point Trail and see all these amazing drawings that were done so long ago!
Located near the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, we're off to Flagstaff, Arizona. Founded on lumber, railroad, and the ranching industries, this city is a great place to camp!
Woody Mountain Campground & RV Park
Here, you will enjoy large pull thru sites, full hookups with 30 amp services, and wifi. Let the kids loose on the playground and get in a fun game of horseshoes! This park also offers clean bathhouses with hot showers, laundry facilities, and they are pet friendly, but do have a limit of 2 pets.
Get up high in the trees at this adventure park. They have adult and junior courses to suit any age. The adult course offers different difficulty ranges for all skill levels such as the green course for beginners and the black course for advanced, and 2 more in between. The kids course is the yellow course which is designed for children 7 and up.
Wupatki National Monument
Found between the Painted Desert and Ponderosa Highlands, you'll find ancient rocks from pueblos built long ago. Take a guided discovery hike with a Park Service Ranger and learn all about what this historical area holds.
If you're looking for excitement, try rafting through the Grand Canyon! With plenty of fast-paced white rapids and periods of calm waters, you'll get in your thrills and sightsee, all in one trip! You can book these trips at either Grand Canyon Whitewater or Grand Canyon Raft Adventures for an amazing Grand Canyon experience unlike any other.
Barstow is a pretty important hub in California, where several highways converge that take people in and out of many different routes. The Marine Corps Logistics Base is also located in Barstow and is close to the Fort Irwin National Training Center.
Camping at Shady Lane RV Park
Our next stay is at Shady Lane RV Cam, where they have 33 pull-through sites with full hookups. You will enjoy modern restrooms with showers, free wifi, and they are pet friendly! The staff is very welcoming and helpful, so head over and make yourself at home!
Head into the Mojave Desert and check out the Rainbow Basin. You can see all kinds of formations of different shapes and colors that have been carved out by wind and water. This is a very remote area so make sure you pack everything you need for the day, or you'll risk having to leave this beautiful spot before you're ready to.
Western American Railroad Museum
The railroad was an integral part of transportation at one time, especially when larges masses of people and their goods were migrating across the country. Learn about the history of the railroad in the Pacific Southwest, and see historical displays and artifacts too!
Barstow Historic Harvey House
An important part of the railroad, the Harvey House, is still standing after being rebuilt after a fire in 1908. They rebuilt it mostly of brick to ensure that another fire couldn't destroy it. Passengers could enjoy the swimming pool, a dining room, and billiard halls. These were all removed when WWII came and they recreated this space as a place to serve the troops moving through the area. The flooring, copper fixtures, woodwork, staircase, and other features found here are all still originals.
Los Angeles/Santa Monica, CA
We've reached the end of our trip at Santa Monica, which is a beautiful place to cap off Route 66. Since this is a pretty big area, there aren't much in the way of campgrounds here, but there is tons to do! We did find a great campground just before you get to the big city where you can set up camp and then go check it out.
Camping at Los Angeles/Pomona/Fairplex KOA
This KOA has 185 pull-through sites with full hookups, wifi, a hot tub and sauna, a pool, and a fully-equipped gym! They are pet friendly and even have a special area for your furry friends to play.
Universal Studios Hollywood
If you like movies, head out to Universal Studios Hollywood. Here you can go behind the scenes of a working movie studio, ride rides, and see shows that are all centered around some of the biggest movies out there. Some of these films include Harry Potter, Despicable Me, and Transformers!
La Brea Tar Pits & Museum
Check out the world's most famous fossil site and learn how to excavate! They have exhibits in the museum on Bison, Coyote, Mammoth, ground Sloth, and much more. Then watch as the paleontologists work in their laboratory to discover more about the fossils they've found!
Another ball game? Why not??? Hit Dodger Stadium where you can get a ballpark hot dog, check out a Dodger's Game, and pick up some Dodger swag! Take the Dodger Stadium Express in from LA, North Hollywood, Koreatown, Long Beach, and Culver City to avoid the traffic. Check out ticket prices and the game schedule today!
Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier opened in 1909, and was the first concrete pier on the U.S. west coast. Today it holds an aquarium, a carousel, an arcade, tons of shops and restaurants, and is even a great place for fishing! Check out the trapeze school, ride a double-decker bus, get a souvenir from 66 To Cali, rent a bike, or check out live music and dancing. This trip only covers a small amount of the attractions Route 66 has to offer, so you could even hit more things on the way back through if you want! Share your pictures and stories of your Route 66 trip with us, and let us know what kinds of fun and interesting things you find along the way!