Route 66 in the News

Route 66 Offers Quirky Sightseeing

2009-06-23 21:40:34

It runs through eight states and covers over 2,400 miles from California to Illinois but Historic Route 66 offers more than just pavement.

Built in 1926, the highway ran through several small towns where restaurants and stores cropped up to accommodate travelers. Most of these businesses did not survive after it was replaced by the interstate highway in 1985 but travelers can still find some off beat and interesting places to visit. Not all of Route 66 is still open, but other highways are not far off and these even offer travelers a little bit of the old Route 66.

Arizona

In Yucca, just off the original Route 66 on I-40, sits a 40-foot geodesic dome. The Dinesphere, originally meant as a nightclub for visitors to Lake Havasu, changed hands a few times before it was bought in 2005 by the current owners. They made some renovations, turning it into a home with three floors. It was renamed Area 66 and now offers visitors a glimpse at the extraterrestrial with several small spaceships gracing the property. While visitors cannot tour the interior of the dome, they are encouraged to take photographs and visit the small store that offers alien paraphernalia and beef jerky.

Stewart’s Petrified Wood, further east in Holbrook is an eclectic blend of the old and the quirky. Not the typical souvenir shop, Stewart’s sells petrified wood in many forms along with fossils and agates. Much of the shop’s uniqueness comes from the exterior. The store is flanked on either side by large cartoonish dinosaur replicas and mannequins posed along the property. There is also an area where visitors can feed ostriches housed on the property.

New Mexico

Albuquerque is home to the Route 66 diner. The diner offers visitors a little of the 1950s with a traditional diner menu, authentic décor and friendly service. During the daily dinner rush the diner is packed full with regulars and sightseers, some having their pictures taken by the willing wait staff. The menu still offers blue-plate specials and dishes such as the Pile Up, Chubby’s char-grilled hamburger steak and the fried okra basket. Diners shouldn’t leave without trying one of their famous milkshakes and a slice of homemade pie.

Texas

Off Route 66 in Groom, travelers will find the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere. Standing 190 feet high, the massive metal cross can be seen for miles before the turn off and is surrounded by statues depicting Jesus’ crucifixion.

Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ Ministries, who owns the site welcomes visitors 24 hours a day, even encouraging them to spend the night in its RVs. There is a gift shop offering everything from holy water containers to cross-stitched pillows that is open during regular business hours. The cross is a great photo opportunity.

Whether driving to Texas or all the way to Illinois, the sites off historic Route 66 will not disappoint travelers.

~Erin Harty, University of Idaho Argonaut

 

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