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Route 66 – finding out about America’s iconic road

Question. Where in the world can you travel coast to coast on Route 66? If your answer is the good ole US of A, you’d be wrong. Sure, the route ends on Santa Monica Pier in the West, where California dips its toes into the Pacific Ocean, but the route doesn’t begin on the East coast. Far from it. 

The route begins in Chicago, about 700 mi from the nearest Atlantic coastal point. Incidentally, the answer to the question is England, where route 66 (known as the A66) runs coast to coast across northern England. However, unlike its American counterpart, England’s version is a mere 115 mi – which sort of pales in comparison to the real Route 66’s 2,448 mi. If you’re planning a road trip, there’s nowhere more iconic with more written about it than Route 66 (if anything goes wrong on your trip, speak to a Palatine personal injury lawyer). Let’s begin with a look at why so many people have chosen to tread this path. 

See the real America

Having heard so much about the famed Route 66, you could be forgiven for thinking that its entire length would be one tourist trap after another, offering overnight stays is sterile hotels, with countless gaudy trinkets on sale from roadside stalls run by staff wearing Uncle Sam suits. That is potentially where Route 66 was heading, with many businesses taking advantage of the number of cars heading out west. 

However, with the introduction of the new Interstate Highway System, prosperity began to dwindle for business owners located along the smaller Route 66 (why drive overnight to your destination along poorly lit roads in the middle of nowhere when an interstate system can deliver you much faster and more directly, with street lighting and regular gas stations). But that’s become the whole “pull” of Route 66. The people still keeping their businesses going along the older road are small time business owners, offering unique hotels, diners, and entertainment – this is a trip about the journey, not the destination…

Things to see… how long have you got!

When it comes to Route 66, expect levels of kitsch that you have never experienced before. There’s a giant rocking chair in Missouri. There’s a blue whale statue in Catoosa, Oklahoma. There’s the famous Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas (think graffiti, think cars half buried, and you’re pretty much got the idea). There’s the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas. There’s a wigwam motel in San Bernardino. And of course, there’s the “End of the Trail” sign in Santa Monica. 

It’s a shame you can’t actually ‘drive’ to the end of the Route, which is on a pedestrianised pier. Still, a walk along the pier to end the trip is perhaps more fun than simply turning off your car engine. 

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