The state of Illinois is known for many things like the city of Chicago and turning the river green for Saint Patrick’s Day, but did you know they also have a ton of cool Route 66 stops? Next time you are driving through the Prairie State, be sure to check out one or all of these awesome stops along the Mother Road.
Formerly The John Hancock Observatory, 360 Chicago is a 100-floor skyscraper in Chicago’s commercial district. Head up to their 94th-floor observation deck to see exhibits on the city of Chicago and look at the maps that explain the view in each direction. There is also a special meshed-in area that allows visitors to feel the winds of the city 1,030 feet above ground level. If you are feeling brave, experience TILT which is an exhilarating downward view of Chicago.
Country Classic Cars
This stop on Route 66 started as a weekend hobby for a Midwest farmer. However, that changed when a piece of land on I-55, just off of Route 66, became available and Country Classic Cars was born. This is not only a large display of classic cars and trucks but is also a service area, showroom and historic gift shop.
Illinois State Capitol Building
Springfield, Illinois is a pilgrimage site for people who want to celebrate the life of Abraham Lincoln. This city is the location of Lincoln’s home and tomb as well as the location of the State Capitol building. This building is beautiful and is found in the heart of Springfield with free entry to visitors.
In 1844, Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln purchased a home, and it was the only home that Lincoln ever owned. While living in the home, he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1846 and then President in 1860. The home, located in downtown Springfield, Illinois, has been restored to look just as it did in the mid-1800s and is open to the public for viewing. Tickets to the house are free on a first-come, first-serve basis.
This Odell Station opened in 1932 as a gas station but stopped serving gas in the mid-1960s. Serving a short period as a body shop in the ‘70s, the station has been restored by the Illinois Route 66 Association and their Preservation Committee as a popular stop along the famed highway welcoming all Route 66 travelers.
Henry’s Rabbit Ranch
Henry’s Rabbit Ranch is a tourist center on U.S. Highway 66, located in a replica of an old gas station featuring rusted gas pumps and over a dozen Volkswagen Rabbits. While visiting the center, you can check out Route 66 memorabilia and play with rabbits – the furry kind!
Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum
The Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum features thousands of artifacts and pieces of memorabilia including the bus and van of Route 66 artist and icon, Bob Waldmire. Stop in to learn the history of one of the most important highways in the U.S. and snap a picture in front of the largest Route 66 Shield mural painted on the back wall of the museum.
Navy Pier is a 1000m long pier located along the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. It has various attractions including sightseeing tours, dinner cruises, restaurants, shops, and fairground rides like the Centennial Wheel. The pier features a firework display on Wednesday and Sunday nights throughout the summer, and Friday and Saturday nights during the fall season.
Ambler’s Texaco Gas Station
This gas station has been identified as the longest operating gas station along U.S. Highway 66 dispensing fuel up until 1999 – 66 years of service! Ambler’s was the focal point of major restoration work from 2005-2007 and reopened as a Route 66 visitor’s center in May 2007. The community has done a fantastic job in restoring this gas station to its original glory and is staffed with knowledgeable volunteers.
The Muffler Men
The Muffler Men, previously used by businesses for promotional purposes, tower 14 to 25 feet tall alongside U.S. Highway 66 throughout Illinois. The Paul Bunyon Statue can’t be missed when driving past Atlanta, IL. The Gemini Giant stands alongside the Launching Pad Drive-In in Wilmington, IL. The Lauterbach Tire Man is found right outside Lauterbach Tires on Wabash Ave in Springfield. Keep an eye out for these 3 Route 66 icons!