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Road Trip: budget hotels along Historic Route 66
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One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. Because US 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985 portions of the road were renamed Historic Route 66.
Historic Route 66 U.S. Route 66 (also known as the Will Rogers Highway after the humorist, and colloquially known as the "Main Street of America" or the "Mother Road") was a highway in the U.S. Highway System. One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66, US Highway 66, was established in 1926. The famous highway originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, before ending at Los Angeles, encompassing a total of 2,448 miles . It was recognized in popular culture by both a hit song (written by Bobby Troup and performed by the Nat King Cole Trio and The Rolling Stones, among others) and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s. More recently, the 2006 Disney/Pixar film Cars featured U.S. 66.

In the 1950s, Route 66 became the main highway for vacationers heading to Los Angeles. The road passed through the Painted Desert and near the Grand Canyon. Meteor Crater in Arizona was another popular stop. This sharp increase in tourism in turn gave rise to a burgeoning trade in all manner of roadside attractions, including teepee-shaped motels, frozen custard stands, Indian curio shops, and reptile farms. Meramec Caverns near St. Louis began advertising on barns, billing itself as the "Jesse James hideout". It also marked the birth of the fast-food industry: Red's Giant Hamburgs in Springfield, Missouri, site of the first drive-through restaurant, and the first McDonald's in San Bernardino, California. Changes like these to the landscape further cemented 66's reputation as a near-perfect microcosm of the culture of America, now linked by the automobile.

US 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985 after it was decided the route was no longer relevant and had been replaced by the Interstate Highway System. Portions of the road that passed through Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, and Arizona have been designated a National Scenic Byway of the name "Historic Route 66". It has begun to return to maps in this form. Some portions of the road in southern California have been redesignated "State Route 66", and others bear "Historic Route 66" signs and relevant historic information. Budgte hotel and motel lodging along Route 66 is generally not too hard to find, and in most areas you'll probably be able to find something basically satisfactory on the spur of the moment.

Driving Route 66 Today

When the old Reoute 66 highway was decommissioned, sections of the road were disposed of in various ways. Within many cities, the route became a "business loop" for the interstate. Some sections became state roads, local roads, private drives, or were abandoned completely. Although it is no longer possible to drive Route 66 uninterrupted all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles, much of the original route and alternate alignments are still drivable with careful planning. Some stretches are quite well preserved, including one between Springfield, Missouri, and Tulsa. Some sections of Route 66 still retain their historic eight-foot-wide "sidewalk highway" form, never having been resurfaced to make them into full-width highways. Before you go we recommend you pick up a decent book with detailed maps and historic and current information about traveling Route 66. Some of our favorites are: Road Trip USA Route 66, Route 66 (Enthusiast Color), and Legendary Route 66: A Journey Through Time Along America's Mother Road.


Illinois

Running on a southwesterly course from Chicago to St Louis, Illinois Route 66 is where US Route 66 begins. All across Illinois, Historic Route 66 is very well marked. Alignments of the highways are bannered with their years of service, so in areas where the highway splits you have a choice of which alignment to follow. While Illinois provides directional signage to show you where to turn, signs are not always well maintained and it is possible to miss a turn in some areas.




Missouri

In 1990, the Governor of Missouri signed House Bill 1629 designating Old U.S. Highway 66 as a historic highway in Missouri, and allowing the Missouri Department of Transportation to post Historic Route 66 signs along the entire length of old 66 in Missouri. One of the most popular cities locted on Route 66 Missouri is the city of St. Louis, although there are many more that can be great places to stop on your drive. If you do plan to make a stop on your Route 66 journey, be sure to plan at least one stop in St. Louis.




Kansas

Just about 12 miles of Route 66 cuts through the lower eastern corner of Kansas. Kansas Route 66 was the first state which paved the road making it full of great Route 66 experiences. Unfortunately Kansas is the only Route 66 state to be completely bypassed by the Interstate that replaced Route 66.




Oklahoma

Oklahoma hosts about 400 miles of Route 66 making it the largest section of road for any state. In Oklahoma, you can travel most of the original Route 66 without getting on the interstate at all.




Texas

Texas hosts a relatively short length of Route 66. From the Oklahoma line to the New Mexico line is a mere 178 miles, but surprisingly more then ninety percent of the original highway remains.




New Mexico

New Mexico hosts many miles of unbroken stretches of Route 66 that can be driven even today. Today New Mexico has some of the best examples of highway kitsch left along the old Mother Road. Towns like Gallup, Albuquerque and Tucumcari proudly preserve their vintage neon signs. Vintage trading posts and authentic roadside cafes and diners still entice the traveler to stop.




Arizona

Arizona hosts another one of the longer intact sections of the old Route 66 can be found in the western portion of Arizona. A 100-mile stretch of route 66 curves northwest from Seligman Arizona, through the Havasupai Indian Reservation at Peach Springs, then veers southwest to Kingman Arizona. Ninety miles to the west of Kingman, another 100-mile section of old 66 veers south of I-40 and curves through the Mojave desert through the tiny isolated community of Amboy California before it rejoins the new highway in Ludlow.




California

In Santa Monica on Ocean Avenue Route 66 ends and a plaque dedicates US 66 as the Will Rogers Highway, just south of here is Santa Monica Pier. The famous Wigwam Motel, located also in San Bernardino, sits near the border of Rialto. A classic Route 66 icon featuring a clever individual teepee shaped units arranged in a small village like setting.




Find more budget hotels on a road trip

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Historic Route 66 - Chicago to Los Angeles


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