It’s said that you get your ‘kicks’ on the iconic Route 66 and anyone traveling along any part of it will appreciate why. This is one of the most famous routes in the USA and we set out to cover just a portion of it from Springfield, Illinois
to Springfield, Missouri
. After a quick visit to Bill Shea's Route 66 Gas Station Museum – an icon of Route 66, we began our self-drive tour of discovery. The first thing we were struck by was the enormous sense of space and the breathtaking scenery. We often had to stop momentarily to catch our breath, pinch ourselves and take a minute to appreciate the awesome views of America’s heartland. This journey was going to be epic!
With billboards and giant statues scattered at intervals across the highway there was plenty to entice us along the way and at times we felt almost as though there was too much to take in – you get caught up in the environment and want to soak up as much of the deep American heritage as possible. We passed by plenty of historic diners and motels so you can be sure whenever you get peckish on your Route 66 tour
there are always plenty of places to stop for refreshment. These diners feel a little like an American movie set both inside and out. It’s clear that they play up to their location on the legendary Route 66, but that simply adds to their charm. The friendly local staff had plenty of information about local places of interest and what’s worth seeing along the way.
We headed west on Chain of Rocks Road towards Mustang Corral (just the place to stock up on parts for your Mustang). Continuing west we traveled on to see the Chain of Rocks Bridge
. Spanning an incredible scenic stretch of the Mississippi River, the Chain of Rocks Bridge is a magnificent monument. Although we couldn’t cross it by car as it is now a pedestrian and bike bridge, we reveled in the opportunity to check out the historic Route 66 displays. A word to the wise – make sure your vehicle is properly locked up and you don’t stray too far. It was quiet and somewhat eerie, but we were glad we’d got out of the car to explore the bridge and take in the views of the St Louis
skyline. One of the longest continuous steel truss bridges in the country, we were struck by the remarkable 22-degree bend in the middle of the bridge which we had been advised by friendly local folk "has to be seen to be believed." Seeing the sharp bend for ourselves we felt thankful cars are no longer allowed to cross the bridge! Standing there was like going back in time and from the bridge you are in a prime position for the incredible views across the wide Mississippi River.
It was then time to head on to Springfield’s city limits bursting with new knowledge and already reminiscing about our awesome self-drive tour and friends made along the way. Traveling along ‘The Mother Road’, crossing the Mississippi River into Missouri and taking in all the sights along the way of this iconic part of Route 66 was like a breath of fresh air. So, the highlights along the way – well foremost was the sheer magic of experiencing Route 66 for real – driving along it, living it, breathing it and returning home with a spirit of adventure fired up within us and plenty of tales to share with friends and family. It was great to experience an authentic taste of an American holiday
in all its historic glory. The freedom of the open road and discovering off-the track haunts frequented by knowledgeable locals was amazing. Breathing in the heritage and culture along Route 66 made this one road trip we will never forget and we definitely got our ‘kicks’!Liang Chen, our guest blogger, works for 1st Class Holidays, helping travelers book the trip of a lifetime