Old & Historic US Route 66 ★ The ultimate guide

The dream of many people is to travel Route 66, also called The Mother Road, that ran from Chicago to Santa Monica in Los Angeles, a total of 2278 miles (3666 km) that crossed 8 States of the United States: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Nowadays Route 66 is discontinued, exactly in 1985 when it was replaced by highways, although part of the road has been signposted with Historic Route 66 signs and today is one of the journeys dreamed by many. people of the world.

Where does Route 66 start?

Route 66 begins in the windy city of Chicago and continues on for two thousand two hundred and seventy-eight miles until it ends in Los Angeles.  This is one hundred and seventy miles less than it was back in 1926 when its length was first certified.

A person can fly and book a car at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport or Midway Airport and then rent a vehicle to drive this entire route while making stops along the way.  Before leaving Chicago, everyone will want to try to spot one of the Muffler Men, which are giant fiberglass characters, that have become the main attractions along the route in this city.

Once a person arrives in Springfield, Missouri, they will find two historical sites.  The Gillioz Theatre was constructed in 1926 and while it was closed for a while, it reopened back in 2006.  The Historic Rock Fountain Tourist Court consisted of nine cabins that were built by Mac MacCandless back in 1945.  The rock fountain that used to be in the center is what prompted its name. Nowadays, this is the private property of an apartment complex. As people are continuing through Missouri, they may want to stop at destinations like the LaClede County Route 66 Museum or the Route 66 Antique Mall.

Outside the restored service station, Kan-O-Tek, in Kansas, everyone will spot one of their favorite characters from the Disney movie Cars.  The tow truck looks exactly like Mater, and the character in the movie was based on this very vehicle. Everyone will need to veer off Route 66 to see it though because it is on the old section of Route 66 and the new route is a little further from here.  Galena is also where people can see the Galena Historic District and the Litch Historical and Mining Museum. Before leaving Kansas, some people may want to stop into the store that has been open the longest along this route, the Williams Store – Eisler Brothers Old Riverton Store.


The next state for this adventure is Oklahoma and the most popular attraction there is the Blue Whale of Catoosa.  The whale is massive, but it is not as much fun as it once was. Children of all ages can still climb inside, but there is no water to swim in any longer.  Another massive sight in this state is The World’s Largest Totem Pole that can be found to the north of Foyil. The totem pole was built in 1948 and stands at ninety feet tall, which isn’t as tall as others around the world, but this one is made on concrete and the others of wood.  Therefore, this is considered the tallest concrete totem pole.

The most important town along Rt 66 might be Amarillo, with its U.S. Route 66 – Sixth Street Historic District.  This thirteen-block area allows people to go back in time as they wander around the old buildings and vintage service stations.  Unfortunately, this district is not directly on the route any longer, as the new road bypasses this area. However, everyone should still stop to appreciate the vibe that it still gives off today.

There are other significant attractions in the state of Texas including the Conoco Tower Station, the Vega Motel, the Buggy Ranch and the Cadillac ranch.  The Midpoint of Route 66 Café is a great place to grab a bite to eat while a person is in the area.

The new Highway 66 completely bypasses Santa Fe in New Mexico, but everyone may want to make a little detour there to see the oldest church in the United States, the San Miguel Mission.  The neon lights in Albuquerque light the way along Route 66 as they guide people towards sights that include the Nob Hill neighborhood, the historic Old Town, and the Botanic Garden.  This city also boasts the original 66 Diner, which has kept everything that same inside since the 1950s.

There are quite a few places to stop while driving through Arizona, but the most famous is the Grand Canyon National Park.  While that massive site can take a day or two to explore, other attractions like the Twin Arrows Trading Post, the Rainbow Rock Shop, and the Standing on a Corner statue in Winslow will take considerably less time.

As a person is sightseeing in Arizona, they might want to consider going slightly off course and venturing north towards Las Vegas.  This will take them off Road 66 for a bit, but the sights of Vegas shouldn’t be missed.  Anyone who thought that the neon signs in Albuquerque were bright will be amazed at how Sin City looks as it is lit up at night.

After a few days of fun in Las Vegas, everyone can get back on Route 66 for the final leg of the journey into Los Angeles.  Before they reach their final destination, they can stop for a walk along the Santa Monica Pier.  Once everyone reaches Los Angeles, they can check out the Broadway Theater and Commercial District before returning their rental car.

Do you need to rent a car to ride Route 66? What type of car is the best for route 66?

Size does matter, it is an important choice. Your car has to fit you, your party and your luggage. Bigger cars offer more space for all, and leg space is important on a road trip. And, in many cases, they are safer.  But on the other hand, bigger cars also consume more fuel. Think that the distances are great, and a big car is an advantage.

Another remarkable aspect is that you will always have plenty of parking spaces and roads are wide.

Remember that you are not guaranteed to get the exact car you signed up for at the moment of the reservation, just a similar model; keep in mind that categories or types cover several brands and models and you may get any of them when you actually pick up your car.

As for the transmission, cars in the US are mostly automatic; although you can obviously choose cars with gearshift lever.

Mileage can range from 25 to 10 mpg (miles per gallon), but gasoline is relatively cheap in the U.S., compared to European countries for example.

Make sure and check it can fit your luggage in the trunk and seat all passengers. This can be seen below the image of the chosen car when the results of your search appear.

Important information

Main car rental companies, such as National, Avis, Dollar or Alamo do not guarantee model choice. They confirm only the category, for example “Convertible”. Most of the convertible fleet are Mustangs, so probably you’ll have one, but is not 100% guaranteed.


Having chosen the car, you can select extras: ski rack, child toddler seat (suitable for children 9 months to 4 years or weighing 20-40 pounds / 8-18 kilos), infant child seat (suitable for infants up to 9 months old or weighing less than 20 pounds / 9 kilos) or GPS.  Consider if it is best for you to bring your own from home by checking the prices.

All rentals include

  • Unlimited mileage
  • Airport fee
  • Collision Damage Waiver
  • Theft Protection
  • Third-Party Liability
  • Cancellation (check restrictions)
  • Amendments
  • Full to
  • Full to Full fuel policy

Upgrade your package

You can upgrade your choice with the following packages (They could change according to the company):

  • Silver:  GPS.
  • Gold: GPS + One Additional Driver.
  • Platinum:  GPS + One Additional Driver + Free tank of fuel.

Find below an average rental rates comparison (in US Dollars) for 10 and 14 days with basic insurance in 2019 by car types and main companies:

Compact Car
Alamo$ 1455$ 1723
Budget$ 1776$ 1950
Dollar$ 1244$ 1416
Europcar$ 1466$ 1609
National$ 1356$ 1650
Thrifty$ 1182$ 1345


Alamo$ 1586$ 1723
Budget$ 1912$ 2011
Dollar$ 1299$ 1492
Europcar$ 1589$ 1781
National$ 1500$ 1853
Thrifty$ 1285$ 1675


Mini Van
Alamo$ 1728$ 2109
Budget$ 1977$ 2203
Dollar$ 1896$ 1986
Europcar$ 1821$ 2017
National$ 1658$ 2076
Thrifty$ 1428$ 1675


Full Size
Alamo$ 1637$ 1983
Budget$ 1843$ 2011
Dollar$ 1654$ 1990
Europcar$ 1810$ 1950
National$ 1559$ 1940
Thrifty$ 1637$ 1966


One-way fees and other fees by company (based on Chicago O’Hare ORD – Los Angeles International Airport LAX)
COMPANYOne way feeOther fees
Alamo$ 500$ 172,16
Budget$ 1000$ 210
Dollar$ 500$ 116,67
Europcar$ 923,33
National$ 399$ 137,38
Thrifty$ 500$ 116,67
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