Well, I’ve finally got to the final state from our epic Route 66 adventure across the United States! We drove the entire route from Los Angeles in California through to Chicago in Illinois, sticking to the original route as closely as we could for the whole journey, using this incredible book to help us stay on track.
I’ve created a post for each of the states in the series, and you can see our Route 66 highlights for each of the following states by clicking on their name: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma.
Today’s post is the last of the photo series, meaning you can now see the best of Route 66 in every state it covers! Let’s see what Illinois had in store for us..
Route 66 Highlights: Illinois
As with many other sections of Route 66, the Illinois route followed different alignments across the decades. We always did our best to follow the original alignment, but that wasn’t always possible, as often it no longer exists!
It’s always nice when the Route is this easy to find!
Like many of the other states on Route 66, Illinois has some classic dining options that you just have to try. In this instance, the famous “Cozy Dog” at the Cozy Dog Drive-In
You can even pose with the Cozy Dogs, as Jess did.
It’s not just Cozy Dogs of course. There’s ice cream too. It was delicious.
Naturally Illinois has no shortage of quirky statues either. This is one of the “Muffler Men”, a 20ft fibreglass giant constructed to serve as advertising. Thousands of these statues could be found across the United Stated (and Route 66) in the 1960’s, and those surviving figures on Route 66 are now iconic visitor attractions. The one above is holding a hot dog, whilst the chap below is known as “Gemini Man”.
The Muffler Men aren’t the only giants on Route 66! Here’s a giant Abraham Lincoln aboard a giant wagon, who can appropriately be found in Lincoln, Illinois.
Illinois has further connections to Abraham Lincoln. In the town of Springfield, we visited the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, where Lincoln lived for a number of years prior to becoming President of the United States. It was also the only home he ever owned.
And of course, Springfield, Illinois is also home to Lincoln’s tomb, which can be found in the Oakfield Cemetery.
Moving on to somewhat more whimsical subjects, a visit to Henry’s Rabbit Ranch is a must when driving the Route in Illinois. Here you can meet Henry, his rabbits, and see all sorts of Route 66 memorabilia.
Henry has some pretty cool rabbits.
Yep, well worth the visit.
Naturally Illinois has it’s fair share of weird Route 66 roadside structures, with everything from a UFO…
… to a giant pink elephant.
Illinois has drive in theatres as well, definitely a must-stop somewhere along your Route 66 adventure.
There are murals, to help you figure out where you’ve been and where you’re going.
And of course, one of our favourite sights, those wonderful old gas stations.
As with every state, Illinois has it’s own Route 66 Museum, this one is in Pontiac Illinois and is called the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum. Well worth stopping in.
And round the back of the museum in Pontiac is this incredible converted school bus. It definitely gave me some ideas for transport options! Also, don’t miss the murals around the town of Pontiac, including the one at the start of the post.
Finally, and a little bit sadly, we of course made it to the end of Route 66! Which is, to be honest, not quite as exciting as you might imagine, just a little sign half way up a lamp post. Still, we posed for a photo…
…and then went for a meal at Lou Mitchell’s. Founded in 1923, this is famous as being the first (or last!) stop on the Route, and was traditionally the place to eat a meal before heading out west. So naturally, it seemed like the perfect place for us to end.
Planning your own Route 66 Adventure
If you’re planning your own Route 66 adventure, we’ve got a bit of reading for you!
- First, be inspired by photos from all the states we visited, by checking our photos highlights from each Route 66 state: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri & Illinois
- Next, check out Jess’s comprehensive guide to planning a Route 66 trip
- Then, take a look out our incredibly detailed day by day Route 66 itinerary, which covers all the sights you want to see, route tips, lodging options and places to eat.
- If you’re new to driving in the US, check out my tips for driving in the US to get you started
- Not sure how much it’s all going to cost? We’ve got you covered with our guide to travel costs in the USA
- Finally, take a look at this book – the best way in our opinion to successfully navigate the entire length of Route 66 as faithfully as you can. We followed it the whole way, and even met the author, and couldn’t have done without it!
Enjoy your Route 66 trip!