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Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway
The experiences you’ll find here are as unique, fun and memorable as the road is long. Route 66 defined a remarkable era in our nation’s history - and it lives on today in Illinois Route 66’s many roadside attractions, museums, restaurants - and the shining ribbon of blacktop we call The Mother Road. Illinois’ stretch of this mythic road boasts the highest density of kitschy, interesting things to do you’ll find from here to California. So, join us for the far out journey that never ends on Illinois Route 66.
Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum
See the finest memorabilia associated with the history of the Mother Road in Illinois. Among the artifacts, you’ll find the bus and van of Route 66 icon, Bob Waldmire—a true legend of the Mother Road. During your visit, you’ll likely spot Bob’s brother, Buz Waldmire, sharing stories of his late brother’s famous travels up and down Route 66. Be sure to step around back for a great photo op in front of the World's Largest Route 66 shield and other great murals. Admission is free.
Original Brick Road
This beautiful 1.4 mile long piece of restored hand-laid brick road is a segment of 66 done in 1931 and placed over a concrete roadbed. Route 66 at its best.
Doc’s Soda Fountain
Located on historic Route 66, this was originally a pharmacy built in the 1880’s. The soda fountain was added to the business in the 1950’s. Stop in for an old-fashioned treat or ice-cream. Doc’s is also open for lunch and dinner.
Visitors can enjoy a dazzling music, light and water show at the Clarence F. Buckingham Memorial Fountain, one of the largest fountains in the world. Located at Columbus Drive, shows runs from dusk to 11pm every hour and lasts for 20 minutes. Operates April through mid-October.
The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
Built in 1927, Old Chain of Rocks was the fifth bridge to cross the Mississippi River, which shortened the distance between St. Louis, Missouri, and Edwardsville, Illinois by 15 miles.
A Chicago tradition for 83 years. Breakfast all day. Homemade pastries, bread and famous omelettes. Fresh squeezed O.J. Outstanding fresh daily lunch specials. Milk Duds for the ladies! One block west of Union Station. Mon.-Sat. 5:30am-3pm; Sun. 7am-3pm.
Polk-a-Dot Drive In
The Polk-a-Dot Drive In was founded over 50 years ago has become one of the most memorable attractions along Illinois Route 66. Stop in and see the collection of memorabilia and enjoy a great meal.
World's Largest Catsup Bottle
This 170-foot-tall bottle that resembles a Brook's Catsup Bottle served as a water tower for the catsup manufacturer after being constructed in 1949. A popular roadside attraction, it makes for a great photo op.
Henry's Ra66it Ranch
This quirky must-see Route 66 attraction, information center and souvenir gift shop is home to rabbits of all kinds, bunny and VW, as well as Mother Road memorabilia.
The Gemini Giant is a landmark statue on U.S. Route 66. The 30 foot tall statue 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.
World's Largest Covered Wagon
The Railsplitter Covered Wagon, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest covered wagon in the world, is located on the front lawn of the Best Western Lincoln Inn, near historic Route 66. A statue of Abe Lincoln reading a law book sits in the huge wooden wagon, which stands 24 feet tall.
Paul Bunyon Hotdog Statue
Standing 19 feet tall and clutching a giant hot dog, this Paul Bunyon statue, not “bunyan” purposely spelled with an “o”, is one of Route 66’s mythic Muffler Man Statues. A few of these giants still proudly grace the roadsides of historic Route 66. This one is located in Atlanta, Illinois, just across the street from the Palms Grill Café, which features fine fare from The Mother Road’s golden age.
Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup
Guided tours offered during February and March that show syrup making by the "Boiling Down" process. Gift store stocked with syrup as well as Route 66 memorabilia.
The Palms Grill Café
The Palms Grill Cafe was a well-known restaurant during the heyday of Route 66. Recently the cafe was revitalized and reopened, and is serving up delicious nostalgia from the fabled Route 66 era. The Palm’s Grill Café has been baking pies and feeding hungry travels and residents for decades. Their pies are so delicious they've even won a few state pie competitions. Saddle up to the counter or take a seat at a table; either way, the pie and coffee with the community atmosphere is enough to make any first-timer feel like a regular. Conveniently located right across the street is the towering Bunyon’s Statue, another one of Route 66’s famous Muffler Man Statues.
Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum & Resource Center
The history of the Oakland and Pontiac car brands as seen through 15 classic cars, dealer artifacts, a complete print library and memorabilia. Free admission-open year round.
Route 66 Drive In
Restored and reopened drive-in located along historic Route 66 in Springfield. Single screen drive-in with double features nightly.
Historic Vaudeville Movie Theatre listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wide variety of performances.
Pink Elephant Antique Mall
The Pink Elephant Antique Mall has many hidden gems. Open daily 9:30 am - 5:30 pm.
Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket
The Chicken Basket in Willowbrook opened in the summer of 1946 on Historic Illinois Route 66. Dell Rhea’s chicken has been bringing visitors from around the world on a regular basis for years.
Route 66 Park & Tourism Center
This small park is right on Route 66, and it's a great place to check out the town of Atlanta. It is a great park, including flat area to run and playground for the kids to climb and run on, you and your family are sure to enjoy.
Route 66 Murals - Pontiac
These murals bring back the memories of the heyday of Route 66 in Pontiac, Illinois.
History in the Paint Public Art Tour
In the summer of 2013, a collective of artists, called the Walldogs, came to Kewanee, IL to paint 15 historic murals depicting the long history and heritage of the city. These paintings can be found on many downtown facades, as well as at the Amtrak Station that brings new people to the area, every day. About this mural: Kewanee was founded in May of 1854, when the Military Tract Railroad was routed to the north of Wethersfield. The town founders were from Wethersfield Township to the south, Sylvester Blish, Ralph Tenney, Henry Little and Sullivan Howard, plus Nelson Lay from Wisconsin. Colonel Berrian, civil engineer who supervised the laying of the track through this area, was asked to choose a name and he decided on “Kewanee,” a Winnebago Indian word for “prairie chicken.” In 1921, Wethersfield’s 2,000 people asked to be annexed to Kewanee with its 16,000. That 18,000 would turn out to be Kewanee’s peak population.
Abe 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. He is about 30 feet tall, a thin, gawky pre-grow-a-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.
Route 66 Log Chapel
This hand-built chapel in Lincoln is open for prayer and meditation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Pontiac Visitor's Center
Be sure to stop by and pick up local Pontiac and tourist information for area attractions, dining, coupons and shopping. Located inside the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum building.
A 20th century Kankakee streetcar was moved to Gardner in 1932 to serve as a diner. In 1937, the streetcar became a cottage and playhouse. It was moved behind the Riviera in 1955 and is still there today. It was restored ty the Route 66 Association of Illinois and inducted into the Route 66 Hall of Fame in 2001.
International Walldog Mural and Sign Art Museum
Free admission to a museum featuring the history of outdoor sign and mural art. Videos, drawings, and artifacts tell the story of advertising art. Art work for sale. The International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museum is dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of the outdoor wall advertising signs painted in the days before electronic mass media. The painters who created those early signs called themselves "Walldogs." The displays which are found at the museum tell the history of the early sign painters who created their art on the sides of brick buildings, barns, and other structures. Examples of those early signs can still be seen throughout the Midwest and, though faded, peeling, and sometimes barely readable, these "ghost signs" remain an important part of our collective cultural and commercial history.
Weezy’s Route 66 Bar and Grill
The restaurant is known for charbroiled burgers, homemade pies and hearty breakfasts, particularly biscuits and gravy made with fresh sausage from locally produced hogs. The decor follows a diner theme with a black-and-white checkered floor and red vinyl seat cushions on chrome booths, tables and chairs. Walls are lined with vintage signs, photos of old vehicles and other Route 66 memorabilia and even has an outdoor patio.
Joliet Area Historical Museum
Travel through time and space! Walk through a replica of the I & M Canal, window shop on a turn-of-the-century street, take a virtual ride on a replica trolley, live the legend of Route 66, land on the moon in a walk-in simulator, and experience space exploration and the Apollo missions. Temporary exhibits change often in our Special Exhibition Gallery. There's always family fun in our discovery room, and remember your visit with a souvenir from our Gift Shop.
Old Log Cabin Restaurant
Situated along the historical old route 66, this small town restaurant is authentic and rich with history. Opened in 1926 by Joe & Victor Seloti it still contains the knotty pine walls that were crafted from cedar telephone poles. Stop by to enjoy classic home cooking and take a step back in time.
Two-Cell Jail in Gardner
The historic Two-Cell Jail was built in 1906. It has been restored by the community and holds a strong presence near Gardner's downtown area. Visitors are now encouraged to "go behind bars" and have their own photo taken.
Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center
Designed to reflect the Route 66 era, the museum houses exhibits which focus on the roles the railroads, Route 66, businesses, agriculture, and the military have played in Litchfield's history.
Dixie Truckers Home
Established in 1928 at the intersection of U.S. Route 66 and Route 136 in McLean, Illinois, Dixie Truckers Home is the oldest truck stop in America. It is still in operation today and although it has been restored after a fire in 1965 the original signs are still in place.
Lauterbach Muffler Man
This giant fiberglass statue stands outside Lauterbach Auto Service in Springfield, Illinois. You can see him and many other "Muffler Men" along the historic route.
Built in 1929, The Mill Restaurant was a highlight of Route 66 in Lincoln. The building sat empty and was in danger of destruction, but is now on the way to recovery. Special tours will be given upon request and appointment.
Soulsby’s Service Station in Mount Olive
The Soulsby Service Station is a historic service station in Mount Olive, Illinois. The station is located along historic U.S. Route 66 and is the oldest usable service station on the highway in Illinois. It serves as an example of the house and canopy gas station design.
CITY: Mount Olive
The Ariston Cafe was founded by Pete Adam, a Greek immigrant, in Carlinville, Illinois in 1924. The original cafe was located on Route 4, the predecessor of Historic Route 66. In 1929, the Cafe was relocated to Litchfield, Illinois and moved into its present location on Route 66 in 1935. Since 1966, Pete’s son Nick and wife, Deme, continue to offer the traditional service expected of a family-owned and operated restaurant. The cafe is believed to be one of the oldest restaurants on Route 66 and has been inducted into the Route 66 Hall of Fame and is placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Standard Filling Station in Odell
Although Odell's Standard Oil Gas Station no longer sells gasoline, it has become a welcome center for the Village of Odell. Owned by the Village of Odell, the station is open daily 11:00am to 3:00pm for tours and as a visitor center.
Smiling Water Tower
This colorful watertower is found in the small town of Atlanta, IL
Livingston Muffler Man
The Livingston-Staunton Muffler Man, in his spiffy orange "Harley-Davidson" shirt, is located outside the Pink Elephant antique mall. He's clearly visible from I-55 now, but looks so tiny in the middle of a field with nothing for reference. You can see him and many other "Muffler Men" along the historic route.
J.H. Hawes Elevator
In the heart of our nation's cornbelt, just a block off Historic Rt. 66, you can discover your connection to Illinois' rich grain producing, storing, and shipping history by visiting the J. H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum.
Ambler’s Texaco Station in Dwight
This circa 1940s Texaco station was once a thriving service station but now serves as a Route 66 welcome center. The station is listed on the National Register of Historice Places and has been awarded fundng through the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program to be restored to look like it did in the 1940s.
Sprague’s Super Service in Normal
A Tudor revival building constructed in 1931 by William Sprague to house a service station, restaurant and garage, it is the largest of three remaining two-story fuel station buildings on US 66, originally housing a café and service station on the main floor plus two second-floor apartments for the owner and the station attendant.
Clocktower in Atlanta
Located next to the Atlanta Public Library and Museum the clock tower was added in the 70s. The clock itself is the original 1909 hand-would clock from the Atlanta High School.
Atlanta Public Library and Museum
Located across from Route 66 Park in historic downtown Atlanta, Illinois, the Atlanta Public Library is a hub of community activity and an attraction for tourists who are making the Route 66 pilgrimage. Throughout the year, the Library offers a wide range of programs for children, teens and adults. From reading, arts, and crafts activities for children to outdoor family programming, adult book clubs, writing workshops, programs for seniors, informational programs, and special events, the Library has something for everyone. Built in 1908, this octagon-shaped building is one of the few of its kind in the state. The museum in the basement of the library houses pieces of local history. The library and museum are both on the National Register of Historic Places.
Berwyn Route 66 Museum
The Berwyn Route 66 Museum is not quite what you might be expecting. Aside from hundreds of Route 66 related artifacts, there's also a wall of art hubcaps, a bell from the original LaVergne School that predates Route 66, an electric vehicle charging station in front of the museum. The museum also provides gallery space for the Berwyn Arts Council. Several times every year the Museum hosts shows for area artists. In addition, the Museum has several ongoing restoration projects including cars from the Spindle Sculpture that appeared in Cermak Plaza from 1989 until 2008.
Sky View Drive In - Litchfield
The Sky View Drive-In Theatre in Litchfield opened in the Spring of 1950 and has been in operation each season since then. We are a seasonal operation and run from the first or second weekend in April until the end of September. Open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays only.
Berwyn Route 66 Wayside Exhibits
The City of Berwyn has placed four exhibits on Ogden Avenue to educate travelers, tourists, and residents about Berwyn's heritage as one of the first eastern suburban communities along Historic Route 66. Berwyn's four exhibits feature the origin of the Ogden corridor and its early history, its first auto-oriented "fast food" restaurants, and its automobile-based economy and car culture. Visit our Information Kiosk for more information!
Pig Hip Marker
This marker tells the story of the Pig Hip Restaurant and its famous sandwiches. A fire took the museum building in 2007.
Two-Story Outhouse at Gays
Arguably one of the most famous outhouses left on the planet is located in the town of Gays, IL, located just five minutes from Mattoon. The existence of outhouses in general are rare, but certainly a two-story version is a unique oddity that the small rural community of 300 has capitalized on for quite some time. Stop by anytime for this great photo opportunity!
Friday Nights at 66!
Its Friday Night racing at Route 66 Raceway! Gates open at 4:00pm Fridays through September. Each of the Friday Nights at 66 events will feature a host car club in the designated Cruise-in Car Corral. Bring your own car to show off in the Cruise-in Car Corral. This is a non-competitive place to show your vehicle, watch the races, meet other enthusiasts and take in the sights and sounds. Call: 888-629-RACE(7723) for more information.
The Colaw Rooming House
Return to Rt. 66, circa 1947, when you overnight at The Colaw Rooming House. Where you'll experience travel on the Mother Road before Interstates and motel chains were the norm. Located just 2 blocks from Rt. 66 in quaint Atlanta, Illinois, The Colaw Rooming House offers three bedrooms, two full baths, a charming living room with fireplace, dinning room, curved front porch, and delightful yellow and red 1940's kitchen. To further enhance your step back in time, your stay includes a complimentary breakfast at The Palms Grill Cafe-Atlanta's fully restored, circa 1935 small town diner. For more information please visit our website www.thecolawhouse.com