Cruise to mom-and-pop diners and eclectic roadside attractions – from Old West towns to a painted desert – along historic Route 66 in Arizona.
For 90 years, Route 66 has beckoned travelers to create iconic road trips across eight states from Illinois to California. Discover its longest drivable stretch in Arizona as well as the Route 66 Museum, a Kingman attraction where Jan Davis frequently dispenses road trip recommendations. All you have to do is consider whether you’re in the mood for a milkshake, a rodeo, or maybe something off the beaten path.
Never-Ending Road Trip
Reflecting on Route 66’s golden era – the 1950s and 1960s when the road was full with families road-tripping – Davis explains, “These were trips to get people out in a simpler place and time. In all [of our] hustle and bustle, sometimes we need to go back to that. The road still has that lure. Route 66 is the ultimate road trip. You don’t just hurry from point to point; you stop to see what’s in each town. Drive to your leisure, turn the radio up and just go with it.”
Jan Davis, director of operations with the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona
Visit These Towns
One of Davis’ favorite things about Route 66 is the small towns it leads to. She deems Oatman a must, with Wild West-style shootouts staged daily and roaming wild burros, descended from the pack mules used by gold prospectors in the town’s heyday (some mines remain open for tours). Davis says that Kingman is “still a Western town” too – but it’s especially exciting in September, when the town hosts several festivals and professional rodeo competitions. Bonus: “A lot of these little towns still have vintage motels,” Davis shares.
Explore These Natural Wonders
You’ll find plenty to do without venturing off Route 66 – including touring spectacular Grand Canyon Caverns in Peach Springs – but Davis suggests a few side trips. “A nice stretch of Route 66 with old hotels and diners runs right through Flagstaff, an hour-and-a-half from the Grand Canyon,” she offers. She also suggests veering off – “There’s signage,” she assures – to see Meteor Crater and the Painted Desert of Petrified Forest National Park.
The Best Road Food
Diners add nostalgia – and hearty, comforting road food – to Route 66 road trips. Davis advises travelers to “order the blue plate special” featuring items such as meatloaf and mashed potatoes, but burgers, malts and shakes are diner classics, too. In Seligman, do like Davis does: indulge in ice cream at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In. (You can’t miss it – just look for the neon sign, colorfully painted exterior and rusty antique cars that have helped make the spot a landmark since 1953.)