6 Underrated Pit Stops Along US Route 66


Is there a road more embedded in American culture than the historic Route 66? The “Mother Road” inspired songs, books, and migrations since its establishment in 1926. Although “Main Street US” is no longer in service, it can still inspire your next travel plans.

So buckle up for a virtual road trip on Route 66 and the 2448 miles that separate Chicago from Santa Monica. Along the way, we’ll visit 6 under-the-radar pit stops worth discovering.

route 66 - the Mother Road
photo credit: “Caveman Chuck” Coker via photopin cc

Brooks Catsup Bottle Water Tower – Collinsville, IL

This quirky water tower is 170 feet tall and has the shape of a ketchup… I mean Catsup bottle. The 100,000-gallon tower, also labeled the “World’s Largest Bottle of Catsup”, once served the local Catsup production factory. Today, it is a quick stop for photos and your excuse to visit the quaint town it is in.

Brooks Catsup Bottle Water Tower on Route 66
photo credit: jimmywayne via photopin cc

The Blue Whale – Catoosa, OK

They say the whale was a gift in the ’70s. Ever since, it has become a popular Route 66 swimming hole. Road trippers crawl in, out and around the cement animal taking photos and exploring. There is also a picnic area and other sculptures near, which make it a good pit stop along Route 66.

The Blue Whale of Route 66
photo credit: TexasExplorer98 via photopin cc

Big Texan Steak Ranch – Amarillo, TX

This steakhouse/motel is one of the original businesses that opened on Route 66. Note that the restaurant moved to its current location (off the Mother Road) in 1970. But enough of history, we came here to challenge the legendary Texas King. Whoever finishes this 72-ounce steak meal in less than an hour gets to walk tall out of there without the $72.00 bill, leaving their poster on their exclusive wall of fame.

Route 66 - Texas King
photo credit: Drriss & Marrionn via photopin cc

Madonna of the Trail – Albuquerque, N.M.

Twelve statues dedicated to American pioneer women stand in each of the states along the National Old Trails Road. Route 66 inherited from two of them in Albuquerque and Upland, CA. This is your chance to pay tribute to the women who built America.

Madonna of the Trail - Albuquerque, NM
photo credit: jimmywayne via photopin cc

Painted Desert, AZ

This is our chance to stretch our sore limbs after hours on the road. Take a hike off-road; contemplate unique rock formations with gorgeous color striations. Sunset is the best time for observation as the desert puts on it vivid coat.

The Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert Inn National Historic Landmark are also nearby so you know you won’t lack of alternatives.

Route 66 - Painted Desert
photo credit: Martin_PHX via photopin cc

Santa Monica Pier – L.A., CA

All great adventure must end at some point. But I have a feeling no one will be sad to finish a road trip in sunny Southern California. The last possible destination on Route 66 is the Santa Monica Pier and its “End of Trail” sign. Be sure to take a snap next to it before heading to the beach or the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

End of Trail - Santa Monica Pier
photo credit: jonathanpercy via photopin cc

Have you ever road-tripped on Route 66? Share your favorite attractions right here. We’re always thrilled to discover new places. Meanwhile, we make this itinerary available for you to populate and adapt as you wish. Enjoy the road!

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6 Underrated Pit Stops Along US Route 66
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Come along on a 2000-mile road trip on the legendary Route 66 and its best under-the-radar pit stops. Or take our itinerary and build your own.
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