It’s a road so mythical, you may wonder if it still exists. And yet, cutting through Illinois is a 300-mile stretch of Route 66 that even today captures the imaginations of travelers the world over. The kitsch, the nostalgia, the people—it’s got all the makings of a road trip that’s just as much about the journey as the destination. Which is kind of the point when you take a trip down the Mother Road.

photo: John Schmidt

Plan Your Route

Get expert advice on what to see, do and eat along Route 66 in Illinois.

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Get your Kitsch

See offbeat sites that defy explanation.

Like modern-day billboards, the roadside oddities along Route 66 were designed to attract travelers to local towns and businesses. Today, these quirky relics still attract travelers with everything from giant Muffler Men statues to a towering bottle of catsup.


Cafés, Diners & Drive-Ins

Savor local delicacies served with a heaping side of Americana.

  • Cozy Dog Drive In

    Few things are more American than food on a stick—something you will experience firsthand at the birthplace of the Cozy Dog. Part drive-in, part Route 66 museum, this local favorite is definitely a must-stop should hunger strike as you approach Springfield.

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  • Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket

    How good is the chicken here? So good it turned a 1940s gas station lunch counter into a Route 66 Hall of Fame restaurant. Some 70 years later the building may have changed, but the chicken hasn’t—still faithfully prepared with the same recipe that started it all.

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  • Palms Grill Café

    This classic café in Atlanta, with its blue-plate specials and retro décor, has been lovingly restored to its original glory—right down to the award-winning pie, made daily from scratch. Nearby Route 66 sites include the Paul Bunyon statue across the street.

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  • Polk-A-Dot Drive In

    Statues of Hollywood icons greet you at this throwback diner decked out in chrome décor, Route 66 memorabilia and tabletop jukeboxes playing 1950s rock ‘n roll. The menu is standard American fare, including chili-cheese fries that taste even better than they sound.

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photo: John Schmidt

The Faces of Route 66

Meet the self-appointed caretakers of the Mother Road.

They’ve dedicated their lives to preserving the iconic sites along the Mother Road. In return, they’ve become Route 66 icons themselves—equipped with an encyclopedic knowledge of the road and a treasure trove of stories they eagerly share with visitors the world over.

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Roadside Nostalgia

Experience postcard moments from a bygone era.

Up and down the Mother Road you’ll encounter preserved filling stations, drive-in theaters and roadhouses that have stubbornly stood the test of time. Each attraction harkens back to Route 66’s glory days, offering you a glimpse of a bygone era thought to have said goodbye long ago.

photo: John Schmidt

The Mother of all Car Shows

See vintage cars cruise down their favorite strip of asphalt.

There was a time when the cars on Route 66 were every bit as interesting as the road itself—a rolling landscape of hot rods, muscle cars and finned convertibles. Those days return every September when over 1,000 of these classics roll into Springfield for the Mother Road Festival—a three-day celebration of Route 66’s golden age.


Say Cheese…

Quirky must-get photos to take along the way.

The stories from the road will be rivaled only by the photos. From oversize rabbits to smiling water towers, Route 66 offers miles of unique photo opportunities, each one quirkier than the last.


Route 66 Murals

See a town that doubles as a mural museum.

The folks in Pontiac love a good mural. Their charming town is adorned with over 20 murals that depict Route 66 and reveal a bit of their own storied history. Great photo opportunities around every corner.

photo: Bruce Simak
Explore More

Get more trip ideas along the Mother Road.

Add a fun detour to your Route 66 road trip with everything from family water parks and presidential history to wineries and state parks.

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