The ROUTE 66 Blog

  • Published on Mar 30, 2016
    Travel the Mother Road: Illinois

    A while back we posted a blog about one must see attraction in each state along the Mother Road, which used to be known as Route 66. Looking back at the blog, we thought it would be a good idea to shed more light on each state along the route. So that is exactly what we did! Follow us each week as we take a look one by one at each state the Route 66 goes through, and the top things to do in that state with regards to the Mother Road. Since the road starts in Illinois, it only makes sense to start there!


    Established as one of the first highways in the Unites States, Route 66 was open for travel on November 11, 1926. Starting in Chicago, Illinois, and running through 8 states, Route 66 was a huge part of the highway system and is now one of the most famous roads of all time. On June 27, 1985, Route 66 was removed from the U.S. Highway system and was given status as a National Scenic Byway. 

    Being the starting point for the highway, Illinois has a super connection with the highway. The state has done a great job of letting people know the connection with signs and markers where Route 66 things are and were. 

    Here are some great attractions you must see along this 300 plus mile stretch of the Mother Road:

    Buckingham Fountain

    If you are from the great state of Illinois, chances are you have seen Buckingham Fountain put on one of its spectacular displays. If you haven’t seen it, we highly suggest this as the place you begin your Illinois Route 66 tour. 

    The fountain is located at Columbus Drive, in the center of Grant Park in beautiful Chicago, Illinois. It is known as one of the largest fountains of the world and was dedicated all the way back in 1927. Visitors can see amazing water shows that take place every hour starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 11:00 p.m. There is also plenty of music and lights happening for visitors entertainment. The fountain operates starting in April and runs through mid-October. Besides being a historical place, it also symbolizes the beginning of Route 66! 

    Original Brick Road

    Have you ever wondered what driving on hand laid brick was like back in the 1930’s? Now you can get the chance! Located in Auburn, Illinois this 1.4 mile  stretch of road offers visitors a chance to see what Route 66 looked like back in the 1930’s. There is something about a hand laid patch of brick road that just screams vintage, and this patch of road is definitely up there as far as cool things to do along Route 66 in Illinois.

    Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum & Resource Center

    Located in Pontiac, Illinois, The Pontiac Automobile Museum and Resource Center is another amazing look into the past along Route 66. In this museum you will learn the history of the Pontiac-Oakland car brand. Most of you have heard of the Pontiac brand of car, but did you know there was another car brand called Oakland under the same Umbrella? Oakland automobiles were produced under the Oakland Motor Car Company name  until 1931 when it was absorbed into Pontiac.

    In the museum you will find tons of featured cars some new, some very old in an effort to really understand how Pontiac has grown over the years. In addition to the cars on display, visitors can also take a look at artifacts, memorabilia and pictures from early dealerships. The museum is open year round is free for all ages. A great place for any history or car buff, come check out this great museum.

    Cozy Dog Drive In

    Chances are you will get hungry on your drive through Illinois on Route 66, so why not stop in for a Cozy dog at Cozy Dog Drive Inn? Along the route were tons of great restaurants that thrived back in the day because they were right off the highway. Cozy Dog drive inn continues to serve amazing “Cozy Dogs” today in Springfield, Illinois.

    The marquee on their sign welcomes you to the home of the “hot dog on a stick”, but these aren’t your regular corn dogs. Made from a special, homemade recipe that dates back decades, the Cozy Dog is made fresh with the best ingredients. When you look at the menu, you will also be happy to know that the prices sure haven’t changed much as it is a very affordable meal for the whole family.

    Odds and Ends

    One of the more unique things along this stretch of ROute 66 is all of the odd, giant statues that pop up off the road. Back in the day, these statues were made as ways to attract people to come to their town. If someone saw the giant bottle of ketchup, maybe that would make them stop! Okay so it might not have been the most amazing idea, but back then it worked! Now a days, these statues remain and you can have a look at some hilarious statues, including:

    Abe Rail Splitter Statue

    Located in Springfield, Illinois, this 30 foot statue of Honest Abe was constructed in 1968. Take a look at how Abe looked without a beard!

    Gemini Giant

    Named after the Gemini Space Program, this 30 ft. statue located in Wilmington, Illinois, depicts a giant holding onto a spaceship while wearing a giant helmet.

    World's Largest Catsup Bottle

    You know that world’s largest ketchup bottle we were discussing earlier? Here it is! Located in Collinsville, Illinois, the bottle is a Brook’s bottle that served as the water tower for the manufacturer. It was constructed in 1949 and to this day is a very funny photo op for all ages passing by. Who wants to pass up the chance to get a picture with a 170 foot tall ketchup bottle?!

    These are just a few places to stop by along Route 66 in Illinois. If you have any more that we didn’t mention, feel free to mention them in the comments below. Don’t forget to check back here every week with a new feature state along the Route! Next week: Missouri.




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