Illinois Route 66

Illinois Route 66

In the bustling heart of downtown Chicago begins the road that changed history—Route 66. Over the decades, the Main Street of America’s siren song of freedom has called thousands of motorists to hit the road. The 300 miles of Route 66 in Illinois are preserved like nowhere else and the road looks much like it did back in the golden age of motorcycling. It’s an unmissable opportunity to roll into adventure through classic Americana.

Riding down the Mother Road delivers everything a true American road trip should—wide-open skies, beautiful Illinois landscapes, and welcoming towns and cities. But it’s not just the road that makes the ride. It’s also about everything you’ll encounter throughout its length, from retro restaurants and diners to restored ‘50s gas stations, unique roadside attractions, and historical locations and sights. You’ll find exciting stops and photo ops to suit every interest along this iconic road.

Route 66 should be on every motorist’s must-ride list. And if you’ve already ridden this legendary road, you’ll know there’s ample reason to return. No other place in America quite makes you feel like you’ve taken a step back into 1955 like the Mother Road in Illinois.

Facts & Information

Historic Route 66 Begin Sign

Although Route 66’s actual starting point has changed a few times, this location at the junction of E Adams St and Michigan Ave is the longest-standing one. Since 1955, motorists have embarked on their Mother Road adventures from this spot. It’s a great photo op to mark the official start of your journey on Illinois Route 66.  Find it at E Adams St/S Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

Pontiac Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum

The Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, operated by the Route 66 Association of Illinois, lets you immerse yourself in the Mother Road’s storied history. On display are thousands of artifacts, from memorabilia and vehicle parts to photos, paintings, murals, and much more. You can also marvel at renowned Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire’s infamous Road Yacht. Find it at 110 W Howard St, Pontiac, (815) 844-4566.

Legends Neon Sign Park

The light of the Legends Neon Sign Park, located at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, flickered on in mid-2023 to deserved fanfare. This collection of Route 66 neon glitz includes the restored historical signs for the A. Lincoln Motel, Bel-Air Drive-In, Chain of Rocks Motel, and Coliseum Ballroom. Above it all, a huge Route 66 shield shines proudly. Find it at 801 E Sangamon Ave, Springfield.

Ariston Café

Looking to grab a bite while being surrounded by history? Then Ariston Café is the place to be. This is the longest-operating restaurant along Route 66—not just in Illinois but across its entire length. Ariston Café has been serving delicious food with options for every taste since 1924. Naturally, Route 66 relics and memorabilia line the cafe’s walls and make for great conversation pieces while eating. Find it at 413 Old Route 66, Litchfield, (217) 250-2031.

Brooks Catsup Bottle Water Tower

What’s that big red thing sticking up from beyond the horizon? Why, it’s the world's largest ketch-... Sorry, catsup bottle. The 70-foot-tall Brooks Catsup Bottle water tower was built in 1949 to supply the nearby Brooks catsup plant with water. In 1995, the unique water tower moved into the city of Collinsville’s ownership. The 100,000-gallon bottle is historical, entertaining, and just a bit strange—roadside Americana at its finest. Find it at 800 S Morrison Ave, Collinsville.

There are more interesting stops than this along Illinois Route 66. To see everything this route has to offer, request your free Illinois Route 66 map today!

Nearby Roads

Route 66 has been given many names over the years. The Mother Road and Main Street of America, among several others. From Chicago, where Route 66 begins, riders will head south along the route stopping in several small towns to experience unique attractions. The entire Illinois Route 66 is 300 miles, and makes for a great multi-day road trip.

Best Time to Travel

Spring, summer, and fall are the best times to travel Illinois Route 66. In the winter, weather can be unpredictable, cold, and often snowy.