Route 66 in the News

Getting Your Kicks on Route 66

2012-09-14 08:07:46

Begun in 1926 as one of the first paved national highways and dubbed the "Mother Road" by John Steinbeck in "The Grapes of Wrath," Route 66 stretched from Chicago to Los Angeles and carried dreamers and travelers, as well as refugees from the 1930s Dust Bowl. The road was ultimately superseded by larger, wider, straighter, less-intimate interstates. Nevertheless, the mystique lives on with coffee shops flashing neon signs and mom-and-pop "motor hotels" (motels) where you didn't have to call ahead for reservations.

1. California Route 66 Museum, Victorville

Highway folk art is the focus of the museum, and the star is a sign showing a 9-foot-tall cutout of an alluring woman in a grass skirt doing the hula. Apparently she was a traffic-stopper because travelers passing by added various items to the roadside "Hula Ville" collection. The museum also features an old-fashioned gas pump, a vintage teardrop trailer and the neon sign for the Green Spot Motel. 16825 So. D St., (760) 951-0436,

2. Wigwam Motel, San Bernardino (near Rialto)

Proprietors looked for a hook to stop travelers along the Mother Road, and 30-foot-tall tepees were certainly eye-catchers. Built in 1949 of wood, stucco and concrete and forming two semicircles around a kidney-shaped pool and a barbecue area, these 19 wigwam rooms have been updated with televisions, refrigerators and air conditioning. 2728 W. Foothill Blvd., (909) 875-3005,

5. L.A. Roadhouse Route 66, Los Angeles

If you're stuck at LAX and thinking, "Why didn't I drive instead?" you can grab a burger, sit at a counter and capture some of that old-time road-trip experience in this diner with neon lights and walls covered with Route 66 signs and midcentury highway memorabilia such as maps, ads and a gas pump (presumably empty). Los Angeles International Airport, Terminal 8, 1 World Way No. 8, (310) 641-9235,

4. Disney California Adventure, Anaheim

The quaint charms of forgotten towns along Route 66 form the basis of the Pixar film "Cars" and the "town" it inspired: Radiator Springs in Cars Land, which opened June 15. Visitors see vintage-looking highway signs, lots of neon and even a Cozy Cone Motel takeoff on the Wigwam Motel (see above). 1313 S. Disneyland Dr., (714) 781-4565,

3. Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica

The "Route 66 End of the Trail" sign went up in 2009. Before that the road officially ended a mile inland, but, really, if you're going to drive 2,447 miles from Chicago, it's more fun to end up at an amusement park with an operating 1922 carousel and a view of the beach and the Pacific Ocean. 200 Santa Monica Pier, (310) 458-8900.

~April Orcutt,


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