Our drive through the historical Route 66 began in Williams, Arizona. We had just laid eyes on the Grand Canyon for the very first time and had driven south to the legendary route to spend the night. Hopping into Williams was like stepping back in time, and we liked it!

Route 66

sign-post-route-66

Entering the Legendary Route 66

Known as the Mother Road, Route 66 was the main thoroughfare from Chicago to California. Built in 1926, it was a road of dreams. As Americans migrated West looking for work, it captured the imagination of the nation.  We know it from the song made famous by Nat King Cole,

“Get Your Kicks on Route 66″

If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, the highway that’s the best.
Get your kicks on Route 66!….

Route 66 Town in Arizona

Main Street of America in it's Heyday - Route 66

Today, Route 66 is a shadow of its former self as the highway system was built in 1980′s bypassing most of the towns located along the route.  But there are a few towns that cling to a not so distant past and a few tourists who set out to recreate their own American Dream by driving along the iconic route.

soda-shop-williams-route-66

williams arizona route 66

Williams town is one of these towns and these two tourists were up for the challenge of at least cruising through part of the legendary road. The last town to be bypassed by the highway, Williams still receives visitors from around the world wanting to catch a glimpse of Americas glory days.

There are old cars on display, a soda shop and 50′s style gas stations, a colourful downtown and of course Route 66 signs and leftover ads from its heyday.

route 66 signs

Route 66 Signs from Illinois to California

We decided to drive on the route for as long as we could, so we bypassed Highway I-40 and instead drove along the single lane road towards the next town. The picturesque landscape had cows grazing in the distance and rolling hills surrounding our lonely stretch of road.

gps and snapshot of route 66 road

The Long and Lonely Road of Route 66

We barely saw another car on the route and we wondered if we had taken a wrong turn. That is until we were greeted by ads for Burma Shave. These quirky signs lined up in groups of five told a little tale with a silly punchline at the end, punctuated by a final sign advertising “Burma Shave” We looked forward to each set we came upon and decided that the one below was the most clever of them all.

burma shave ad on route 66

Burma Shave Ads on Route 66

burma shave ads on Route 66

And in the end it's Burma Shave

Our first stop after Williams was Seligman, Arizona and it was far more historically preserved than Williams. Seligman was the birthplace of Route 66 and played a large part in preserving the longest remaining stretch of the route in 1987 when it established the road as a heritage highway.

old town of semingal route 66

Recreating the Old Main Street of Route 66

There are old motor hotels, The Road Kill Cafe, a Texaco Gas Station and the old general store. If you are going to buy any souvenirs, buy them in Seligman because they have everything Route 66. We foolishly decided to wait until we hit the next town along the route, but unfortunately that never came.

the road kill cafe sign found on route 66

It's true, there's a Road Kill Cafe on Route 66

We drove on…Route 66

Old Car at Seligman route 66

But as we drove West, there was less and less to see.

Fun Road Signs on Route 66

On This Site in 1897, Nothing Happened

The next stop was Peach Springs which had nothing but a large general store and the Grand Canyon caverns. There was nobody there.

Peach Springs Arizona abandoned building

Abandoned Building on route 66

We were looking forward to Peach Springs. It sounds so cute and impressive and we were couldn’t wait to see more old gas stations, corner stores and soda shops. Unfortunately there was nothing there. Other than a few run down buildings. Peach Springs is definitely off the map enough that it doesn’t attract any tourists and the town seems completely shut down.

Abandoned Gas Station on Route 66

Decaying Buildings on Route 66

However, if we had to do it again, we’d take this road to the Grand Canyon as it is the only road that takes you to the bottom of the canyon. As we were on a tight schedule, we could only take note of the fact of just how close we were to seeing this natural world wonder for they second time, and continued on to more of route 66.

Abandoned Gas Station on Route 66

Old Gas Stations Up For Sale

By the time we made our way to Kingman, we were at the California border and we had a choice of either exploring more of Route 66 or turning south towards the London Bridge. Well, the London Bridge won out, but for a few short hours, we got our own kicks on Route 66.

Tomb Stone on Route 66

A Sense of Humour on Route 66

For more photos of our USA Road Trip and up to date photos of our travels, check out our Instagram Feed.

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27 Comments

  1. Angela

    Route 66 is definitely very evocative of past US, how life was back in time of mass migrations and what it meant for the country. From your pictures it looks like a “ghost road” framed by many ghost towns, which I’d love to visit, even only for those run down buildings :)

    1. debndave Post author

      Route 66 was definitely fascinating. You hit the nail on the head. Most of the towns are like ghost towns, but then there are a few gems like Williams and Semingal. I’d love to do the entire route on bicycle.

    2. debndave Post author

      You captured it Angela, it is a bit of a ghost road, there aren’t even any houses along the way. It’s strange that once the highway came, everything else left.

  2. Amanda

    Love this! My sister and I also got a little taste of famous Route 66 when we did our own US road trip last summer. It really is quite special, isn’t it? I think our favorite, kitsch-tastic stop was Amarillo, Texas.

    Also, please tell me you guys ate at the Roadkill Cafe?!?

  3. Luxap

    Hi Deb and Dave, it sounds like you had quite an experience driving down route 66. I enjoyed the pictures very much and I agree with Daniel McBane the “nothing happened” sign is quality. It looks like its marked by memories from yesteryear

    1. debndave Post author

      Too funny you haven’t been on Route 66. It is a little out of the way though, so I can believe it. We really had to make a concentrated decision as to whether we should go off route for the day and take the long way around or stay on the highway and bypass route 66. I’m glad we didn’t, it was very interesting to see.

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  5. Kenin - The Constant Rambler

    We did a small portion of route 66 on our last road trip and were pretty disappointed by the stretch we were on. Looks like you found a much better part of the route than we did. We are planning on driving to the Grand Canyon on our next trip, so we may drive Route 66 to get there. You mention a turn off to get to the bottom of the Canyon, do you happen to recall what road that is?

  6. Ryan

    Wow, those are some phenomenal pictures. I miss road tripping through the USA so much. It feels like it has been ages, and I have yet to ever try the Route 66. I think my favorite picture is of the signs about daisies and speeding up–very clever. Glad you enjoyed the trip and saw all of the awesome history.

    1. debndave Post author

      Thanks Ryan. There were a bunch of signs just like that as well. When we first saw them, we didn’t know what was going on, but by the second or third set, we were totally prepared for a fun little punchline at the end.

  7. Daniel Meloy

    What a great road trip you two had! I love going on road trips through the US, and Route 66 is of course a must. You did a really good job outlining all the little towns you visited, and your pictures are fantastic! What are the old soda shops like? Do they sell anything different from what you’d be able to buy anywhere else? And how long did the trip take in total? Thanks!

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Daniel, we were on a two week road trip and it was awesome. The old soda shops are a throw back to the fifties and you feel like you are right there. They have a lot of route 66 memorabilia as well. Thanks for your comment and I am so glad that you liked it. You must go some time. We’d love to do the entire route one day and take a slow ride through the USA

  8. Lauriece

    experience driving down route 66 is a gret visit. Done this trip a few years ago. One of the best drives you can do with so much to see on the way. No shortages of places to eat and drink great post

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  13. Barbara

    I loved reading this post and seeing the iconic photographs. We have driven a few stretches of Route 66 ourselves and I always feel sad to see how abandoned and isolated everything along the route is now. Great post, it really brought back tons of memories!

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