We all have an inexplicable desire to move and discover, an almost primal urge to travel. Road trips quench that thirst.
A 300-mile stretch of American roadway, steeped in legend and packed full with eccentric lifers, nostalgic eats, quirky museums, and more kitsch than you can shake a restored 1940’s gas pump at spans across Illinois. This is the original Mother Road.
The charm of Route 66 is its idiosyncratic personality. Like a giant carnival midway, this corridor of neon signs and gaudy roadside attractions was embraced by the traveling public as an exciting diversion from ordinary life. A trip on Route 66 promised an exhilarating pilgrimage where one might discover the unknown and experience the unusual. Route 66 was and is synonymous with fun and adventure.
While Route 66 is no longer considered a modern highway, driving across “America’s Mainstreet” is certainly still deemed as an experience of a lifetime. Explore a few of our favorite sites to see on this iconic slice of Americana.
Begin Route 66 Sign
You’ll begin your legendary journey in the heart of downtown Chicago at the very start of Route 66. Snap the perfect first selfie as you begin your 300-mile descent down the Mother Road at the iconic Route 66 Begin sign on E. Jackson Blvd., Chicago.
Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum
No Route 66 journey is complete without a visit to one (or all) of the Mother Road’s classic museums. A must-see is the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, packed full of the finest memorabilia associated with the history of Route 66.
The Gemini Giant
This 30 ft tall statue located outside the Launching Pad Drive-In in Wilmington, is named after the Gemini space program and holds a silver “rocket ship” in his hands while sporting an astronaut’s space helmet that looks more like a welding mask.
Paul Bunyon Hotdog Statue
This oversized fiberglass novelty, now stationed in Atlanta, Illinois, was first installed on the roof of Bunyon’s hotdog stand in Cicero, Illinois in 1966. Standing 19 feet tall and clutching a giant hot dog, the iconic Paul Bunyon statue, not “Bunyan” purposely spelled with an “o” to avoid copyright infringement, is one of Route 66’s mythic Muffler Man Statues.
World’s Largest Covered Wagon
A little way down the road in Lincoln, Illinois catch a glimpse of the World’s Largest Covered Wagon, complete with a very large – and very studious – Abraham Lincoln statue. The Railsplitter Covered Wagon is officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest covered wagon in the world, standing a towering 24 feet tall.
Cozy Dog Drive-In
Corndogs – a marvel of the modern world. But have you ever wondered who decided to put these deep-fried delights on a stick in the first place? Well, wonder no more. Part Drive-In, part Route 66 museum, and a whole lot of tasty goodness make sure to plan a stop into this Mother Road favorite in Springfield, Illinois.
Abe Lincoln Rail Splitter Statue
This clean-shaven statue of young Mr. Lincoln stands in front of the Illinois Exhibits building at Gate 1 of the State Fair Grounds in Springfield. He is about 30 feet tall, a thin, gawky pre-beard Abe. He holds an ax almost in Muffler Man configuration, the statue is named “The Rail Splitter” and dates from 1968 when he was sculpted by Carl W. Rinnus, a Springfield native.
World’s Largest Catsup Bottle
Situated south of downtown Collinsville, Illinois, the world’s largest Catsup bottle, was built in 1949 as the water tower for a now-shuttered Brooks Foods plant.
Interpreting the Mother Road in Illinois:
Explore these unique people, places, and stories through interpretive displays scattered along Illinois’ Route 66. Each display is as unique and diverse as The Mother Road itself covering everything from the invention of the motel to the birth of the Corn Dog. CLICK HERE to learn more.
Where to Stay:
The original starting point of Route 66 is in Chicago less than 30-minutes from Eaglewood Resort & Spa. Plan your next weekend getaway, vacation, or a cross-country road trip on Route 66 and discover the incredible people, places, and experiences worth a detour. Eaglewood Resort & Spa’s “Get Your Kicks On Route 66” Bed & Breakfast Road Trip Package is only $66 Per Person based on double occupancy. CLICK HERE to learn more.