Craving some pure Americana whimsy and nostalgia? Let's jump in the car and joyride down Route 66 together, winding through quirky history and natural beauty.
We'll make memorable stops at "The Mother Road"'s funkiest attractions — snap selfies with the Gemini Giant astronaut, spray paint on Cadillac Ranch, and stay the night in a teepee.
Bring your sense of wonder as you explore these icons of American kitsch.
1. The Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma
This giant blue whale is a beloved Route 66 icon in Catoosa, Oklahoma. Originally built as a swimming hole in the 1970s, it has become a popular photo spot and picnic area. You can explore the whale's interior, take photos, and enjoy lakeside seating.
Visitors say the gift shop is worth a visit, and occasional events make it even more enjoyable. Just be wary of the bathrooms that are not so clean, and consider donating to support upkeep. Entrance is free, and it's open daily.
2. Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas
A famous art installation near Amarillo, Texas, Cadillac Ranch features ten Cadillac cars buried nose-down in the ground. Created in 1974 by the art group Ant Farm as a creative experiment, this iconic attraction is inspired by the angles of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
It's not just a canvas for graffiti but also a piece of pop art, making it a unique blend of art, history, and interactive public expression. Visitors say it's a fun, quick stop and not too crowded. They also recommend bringing your own spray paint.
3. The Wigwam Motels, San Bernardino, California
While some rooms may show signs of wear, most guests say the rooms are comfortable, and amenities like Wi-Fi and air conditioning work well. Plus, the convenience of nearby dining options makes it a practical choice.
These were designed by Frank Redford, built in the 1930s, and inspired by Native American culture. You can check out other retro motels along Route 66 in our list: 6 Retro Motels for a Nostalgic Stay on Route 66
4. The Gemini Giant, Wilmington, Illinois
The Gemini Giant is a towering fiberglass statue of an astronaut holding a rocket in Wilmington, Illinois. It's one of the famous "Muffler Men" statues that once dotted America's highways, originally designed as an advertisement for a muffler shop in the early 1960s.
Visitors recommend checking out the Gemini Giant's souvenir shop, where purchases support the site. Consider a quick day trip for an iconic Route 66 experience near Chicago. If you plan on dining, guests say the restaurant is clean, but you should confirm the restaurant's operating hours.
5. The Route 66 Midpoint, Adrian, Texas
Adrian, Texas, proudly boasts of being the midpoint of Route 66, equidistant from Chicago and Los Angeles. Stop here for a unique photo opportunity and to enjoy a meal at the Midpoint Cafe.
Visitors say the road is quiet for great photos of the midpoint sign without traffic. While there, don't miss the Chicken Salad at the Midpoint Cafe, and be sure to explore the impressive memorabilia and history. Remember that the cafe's opening hours vary, so check the website beforehand.
6. The World's Largest Catsup Bottle, Collinsville, Illinois
The World's Largest Catsup Bottle, a 170-foot-tall water tower in Collinsville, Illinois, is — you guessed it — shaped like a giant ketchup bottle. It was initially built in 1949 for the Brooks Tomato Products Company as an advertising landmark and water tower.
In 1995, the local community rallied to save it from demolition. While you can't climb it, it's an iconic photo spot that pays homage to a classic American condiment.
Travelers say the area doesn't offer many picturesque views, but the Catsup Bottle is well-maintained, and preservation initiatives are impressive. Some suggest dropping by during the Catsup Bottle Festival for a more immersive experience.
7. Route 66 Museum, Kingman, Arizona
The Route 66 Museum in Kingman, Arizona, is a quirky and informative museum built in 2001 to celebrate the history and culture of Route 66. It's a great place to learn about the road's significance and the people who traveled it.
Visitors like the helpful staff and impressive displays, like the post-World War II road trip scene. There's even a connection to the nearby Mohave Museum.
You can explore the gift shop for Route 66-themed items, books, flags, and postcards. They recommend checking the museum's hours, as they may be limited, and being aware of the time zones when traveling to the area.
Because Route 66 holds sentimental and historical significance, it's encapsulated in film, too. Check out the movies that feature Route 66 and its spirit: 6 Films That Showcase the Allure of Route 66 Through the Decades
Stop and Explore Quirky Route 66
As you go down Route 66, don't just view these oddities from the road or through your car window. Pull over! Many of these quirky stops are free or inexpensive to enjoy up close.
Wander, explore details, and chat with other travelers and friendly locals. Capture your memories in photos and connect these peculiar pitstops to your American story. See if you can spot signatures, art, and messages left behind from past generations of road-trippers at each attraction.
Think of your mark or memento to add. However you choose to engage, let the spirit of the Mother Road turn your voyage into an adventure. Safe travels, and enjoy the oddities!