Stretching from Chicago’s skyscrapers to Santa Monica’s pier, Route 66 takes you on a nostalgic journey through the heart of America. Opened in 1926, the route has inspired songs, movies and novels. It was a road to hope for people as they sought a better life during the Great Depression. And, it turned into a getaway during the 1950s, bringing new revenue to previously unknown areas.
While the route no longer exists in its original form, you can still follow its course along highways that take in small towns, oddities like giant novelty objects, retro diners and cacti-studded deserts.
Our US specialists have traversed the route and are expertly placed to help you shape your own Route 66 odyssey, taking account of your preferences. You can choose to drive the entire road trip over several weeks, or mix and match sections to focus on the places and experiences that most interest you.
Route 66: things to consider
It’s easy to let Route 66’s reputation eclipse the reality of the drive. If you’re planning to cover the entire route, bear in mind how long it will take and the vast distance you’ll cover. We recommend taking at least three weeks to drive the whole route to make sure it’s at a leisurely enough pace.
If you’re short on time, you could drive just parts of Route 66, flying in-between, and take highways and freeways to reduce driving times across the unmaintained sections. Our specialists will be able to advise here and can recommend the best way to experience the route for you.
Be prepared to stay in a mix of accommodation. Outside the cities, you’re only likely to find relatively simple motels or chain hotels, which are still perfectly comfortable after a day on the road.
And, if you’re unsure about Route 66, the USA has plenty of other self-drive options.
Long open roads, abandoned gas stations, expansive desert scenery and kitsch Americana motels. Route 66 has all this, but I discovered plenty more. From Chicago’s art and architecture to blues music in St Louis, the route holds so much history and culture.
Suggested Route 66 Itineraries
These itineraries give you a starting point for what your trip along Route 66 could entail. They cover Route 66 in its entirety and ideas for shorter trips that still capture many of the route's highlights. Treat them as inspiration, as each trip is created uniquely for you.
Our expert guides for driving Route 66
Planning a Route 66 road trip can be a daunting task. Our travel guides, drawn from our specialists’ experiences, break the journey down so you can decide where to stop and which highlights you most want to take in along the way.
Audley presents Route 66
There’s more to Route 66 than just the driving. From architecture cruises in the home of the skyscraper to hiking in the Grand Canyon, our USA specialists have captured some of the experiences you can have en route.
Accommodation choices along Route 66
Our specialists have selected the best hotels along Route 66, based on their most enjoyable stays. You can choose from traditional motels, smaller one-off properties or larger hotels. All come recommended for their service, location or range of amenities.