There is no highway more iconic than Route 66, so we’ve created the Historic Route 66 Road Trip to remind you of the good old days when folks were driving cross country to chase their dreams and the journey was just as fun as the destination.
Route 66 was paved in 1926 to carry travelers, tourists and dreamers, alike, from Santa Monica, CA to Chicago, IL, and since we’d never ask you to leave this great state, our road trip will take you along the historic route from the Texas town farthest west, Glenrio, east to Shamrock, TX. And while Route 66, itself, doesn’t exist anymore, this road trip passes along where it used to be and where nostalgic treasures still remain. So crank up those tunes, roll down your windows and cruise!
HERE’S THE MAP…
Destination 1: Ghost Town – Glenrio, NM-TX
Your first stop is actually in New Mexico…but it’s also in Texas (confused yet…?) The ghost town lies across the New Mexico-Texas border. Settled in 1905, Glenrio had a liquor store in the New Mexico side of town (where alcohol was allowed) and the post office on the Texas side (but no bars — Texas was dry at that time.) It is also one of the only Exit 0’s in the country. Though you’d never be able to tell from the now eerily abandoned buildings, this town was a hot spot in the Route 66 days.
Destination 2: Midpoint Cafe – Adrian, TX
This little diner is a Route 66 legend. Built in 1928 and located exactly halfway between Santa Monica and Chicago, it provided the perfect place for travelers to relax along the route, and 88 years later, it’s still doing just that. Midpoint Cafe serves up classics like fried bologna and juicy burgers and contains a Route 66 Souvenir and Antique shop. Most important of all are their “ugly” homemade pies that taste heavenly.
TIP: The next town you’ll pass through is Vega, where you’ll find the strange Dot’s Mini Museum, a little room full of quirky artifacts from the historic Route 66 collected by Dot, herself. The Cowboy Boot Tree that sits in front of the museum is both odd and beautiful.
Destination 3: Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, TX
This art installation was originally “planted” by the art group “Ant Farm” in 1974 on billionaire Stanley Marsh 3’s property. It’s become a famous must-see attraction in Texas and no road trip would be complete without it. Be sure to bring spray paint so you, too, can leave your mark!
PHOTO OP: About 25 minutes away from Cadillac Ranch, is another art installation paid for by Stanley Marsh 3 and created by Lightnin’ McDuff called “Huge Pair of Legs” that was modeled after an Egyptian statue. These feet may not be along Route 66 (it’s at 4743 W Sundown Ln.), but it’s weird enough that it’s definitely worth visiting.
Destination 4: Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum – Amarillo, TX
There’s nothing better than a long family road trip in an old-timey RV, and while you can no longer travel in such style, you can visit the RV Museum to learn all about these classic trailers. It’s great place to get your mind in that yesteryear-frame-of-mind as you continue traveling down the historic highway.
TIP: Hungry? As you pass along Route 66 through Amarillo, there are plenty of places to eat like the Golden Light Cantina (the oldest restaurant in town, built on Route 66 in 1946) in the Historic District on 2906 SW 6th Ave. Of course, we’re a fan of the Big Texan Steak House, view our encounter with their giant 72 oz. steak here.
Destination 5: Lile Art Gallery – Amarillo TX
If you were looking at Cadillac Ranch and thought, “Man I wish I could wear that” then this is the place for you. Bob “Crocodile” Lile takes chips of paint that have fallen off the iconic cars and through a process of buffing and UV lighting, makes them into beautiful jewelry he’s calling “Cadilite.”
Destination 6: US Route 66 Sixth Street Historic District – Amarillo, TX
While you’re in Amarillo, take a drive down the actual Historic Route 66 which is now SW 6th Ave. It still contains buildings from when this was the central part of town as travelers trekked across the country in the 20s like The Nat which was once an indoor pool and then a ballroom where Duke Ellington performed. It’s now an antique shop. You’ll also find Amarillo’s Route 66 Store and tons of live music venues and restaurants along this road.
Destination 7: VW Slug Bug Ranch – Conway, TX
This next destination is especially helpful if you’re losing at the “Punch Buggy” car game. Just like Cadillac Ranch, this lesser-known car art installation features five Volkswagens that have been buried nose-down in the ground and left for every tourist with spray paint to leave their name. And unlike Cadillac Ranch, chances are it won’t be packed. Find it next to the Conway Inn and Restaurant (9696 Interstate 40).
Destination 8: Giant Cross – Groom, TX
In Groom, you can spot this 190 ft. cross looming over the land from the freeway. This structure which is a part of the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ Ministries, is actually the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere. As you continue through Groom, if you see a leaning water tower, your eyes aren’t tricking you. It’s the “Leaning Tower of Texas” that was built before the cross with a 10-degree lean as a marketing ploy to attract visitors to the small town.
TIP: About 20 minutes after you leave Groom, you’ll come across the I-40 East Rest Area at Mile Marker 129, which is an attraction in itself. It is built to resemble an old building from the 1950s and now has a Route 66 Museum (as well as actual restrooms) inside…what more could you need?
Destination 9: First Phillips 66 Station in Texas – McLean, TX
Built in the early 1920s, this little house was the first Phillips 66 Station in Texas. It has since been restored by The Old Route 66 Association of Texas. It is no longer a working gas station, but it is a great place for a photo op! You can find it at 219 Gray Street.
Destination 10: Devil’s Rope Museum and Route 66 Museum- McLean, TX
One side of the museum is dedicated to barbed wire, with everything from barbed wire types to barbed wire sculptures. The other side is the largest Route 66 museum in Texas featuring over 700 artifacts like the original cow from Amarillo’s Big Texan Steak Ranch, road signs, advertisements and more! Find it at 100 Kingsley St. And while you’re in town, check out the Cactus Inn — a motel built in 1956 that’s still hosting travelers 1950’s-style!
TIP: As you drive through Lela on your way to Shamrock look out for the RATTLESNAKES sign that was once an advertisement for the famous Regal Reptiles Ranch, a famed Route 66 attraction until the 80’s. The sign is on the corner of Donley and First Street.
Destination 11: U Drop Inn Cafe – Shamrock, TX
This 1920s art-deco style building is one of the coolest sights along Route 66, and possibly the most well-known site along the route in Texas, thanks to the 2006 Disney animated-film Cars, where it was featured as Ramone’s House of Body Art. U Drop-Inn was built in 1936 and was a service station and cafe. It is now a visitor’s center, museum and gift shop.
YOU DID IT! Our attractions stop here, but Route 66 continues all the way to Texola, OK taking you through Benonine, TX. If you aren’t done “getting your kicks,” you can continue riding the highway all the way to the end of Texas (or even to the end of the highway in Chicago…)