15 Must-Make Stops Along Historic Route 66
As you might imagine, a road spanning from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, has an abundance of interesting stops. Here are the best Route 66 attractions to see, from a corn dog restaurant to a bottle tree farm!
Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket
This long-time stop on the Mother Road has been in business for more than 70 years. It’s no wonder since Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket serves up classics like fried chicken (their own signature recipe), biscuits and mashed potatoes that have generation after generation raving. Learn how to make your own fried chicken at home.
The Cozy Dog Drive-In
The Cozy Dog in question is actually a delicious corn dog (originally named the “crusty cur”—good thing they switched!). This classic drive-in also serves up hand-cut fries all under a Route 66-bedecked storefront. Try these new spins on classic drive-in treats.
Henry’s Rabbit Ranch
Hare, er, here at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch you’ll find rabbits of two kinds! There are plenty of animals to behold (and cuddle, if you want), and there is also no shortage of Volkswagen cars. Henry himself will show you around and tell you the story of each rabbit he’s rescued!
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
St. Louis, Missouri
Stop here for a concrete, which is very frozen custard that can be blended with things like marshmallows, pralines and brownie chunks, and is so named because you can flip it upside-down with no worries! Think of it as the original Blizzard (only richer and creamier!). Taking your trip along Route 66 at Christmas? Ted Drewes also sell Christmas trees!
Previously a saltpeter mine, Meramec Caverns extend over seven levels! They have several interesting attractions, including the Ballroom, where annual concerts are held, and the Stage Curtain, where you can see an amazing light and sound show aptly named the “Greatest Show Under the Earth.” Did you know you can eat dinner in a cave restaurant? Yup.
Clanton’s Cafe is a true slice of Americana, and they serve a mean chicken fried steak! They also serve calf fries, which, it’s important to know, are more commonly called Rocky Mountain Oysters.
Want to learn to deep fry with confidence so you can make your own calf fries at home? Read our tutorial!
The Blue Whale of Catoosa
Perched on a closed-down swimming park, this gigantic blue whale has become a must-see stop for Route 66 travelers. Ol’ Blue is open daily, and the attraction includes picnic tables, a small souvenir shop and a fun photo opportunity for the whole family.
The Big Texan Steak Ranch and Brewery
The best reason to stop at this landmark restaurant is to take the 72-Ounce Steak Challenge! Big eaters are dared to eat a 72-ounce steak in addition to several sides in one hour. The prize? The meal is free and the sense of accomplishment never wanes.
As the story goes, a wealthy man decided he wanted a piece of public art that would confuse the locals, and the result was a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin: Ten Caddies were half-buried tail-up in the dirt of one of his fields. Today, visitors can spray paint the cars at Cadillac Ranch to their hearts’ content.
Midpoint Cafe is geographically the midway point between Chicago and Santa Monica on historic Route 66, hence its name. It’s also the “home of the ugly crust pie” as acknowledged in the credits for the Pixar film Cars, though patrons agree that their pies are truly delicious! Never make an ugly pie crust again with our help!
What a unique stopover! The Wigwam Motel consists of individual sleeping units shaped like the tepees of the Plains Indians; however, it’s important to note that air conditioners and cable TV are present in each wigwam so you don’t need to rough it.
Flagstaff Brewing Company
Flagstaff Brewing Company, which also serves food like poutine and bagna calda (whole garlic cloves roasted with butter and olive oil and served with bread), handcrafts their beers in small batches and also has one of the largest collections of single malts found anywhere in the country!
Love craft beer? Check out the best from every state.
Delgadillo’s Snow Cap
Delgadillo’s Snow Cap was made for people with a sense of humor! The menu lists things like “cheeseburger with cheese” and “dead chicken,” and the property is adorned with signs stating “Enter at your own risk!” and “Sorry, we’re open!”
The small Bagdad Cafe was the setting for a 1987 German film starring Jack Palance. It’s very popular with Europeans who have seen the movie and are drawn to the dusty California town. The facade doesn’t look like much, but the interior is literally covered with things like flags, hats, and postcards!
Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch
Oro Grande, California
Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch is must stop at the tail end (or the start) of Route 66. This forest of handmade, unique metal pipes with bottles hanging from them is a must-see, and you can pretty much count on seeing Elmer himself milling about his creations!
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