New Mexico is known for its famous chiles, stunning landscapes, and diverse selection of attractions. You won’t want to miss out on the first atomic bomb test site or the beautiful caves. The next time you are driving through the Land of Enchantment, be sure to plan for these interesting and unique stops along U.S. Highway 66 in New Mexico.
Blue Swallow Motel
The Blue Swallow Motel takes you back in time to the height of Route 66’s popularity and the days of sock hops and poodle skirts. This traditional motor court has been perfectly preserved and is fit with period-appropriate amenities.
Route 66 Neon Drive-Thru Sign
If you are looking for a cool photo location to mark your trip, be sure to check out the Route 66 neon drive-thru sign in Grants, New Mexico. This sign is shaped like a giant Route 66 highway shield sign and has a drive-thru portal that is big enough to fit RVs. This location is best to visit after dusk when the sign is fully illuminated.
El Rancho Hotel
R.E. Griffith opened El Rancho Hotel in 1937 as a base for movie operations. It offered excellent service and was in close proximity to several iconic Wild West locations and towns. The hotel also hosted many Hollywood stars like Errol Flynn, Katherine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and John Wayne. The hotel started to slowly decline when people began to travel I-40 instead of Route 66. It was bound to face a wrecking ball in the 1980s, but a businessman bought the hotel and restored it to its original glory.
Richardson’s Trading Company
Richardson’s Trading Company is one of the oldest and most respected old-school trading companies around. You will find a bit of everything here: kachina dolls, headdresses, and Navajo wool rugs. This also makes for a good place to pick up decade-old treasures from the long-standing pawn shop.
Way back when in New Mexico, the Whiting Brothers had gas stations and hotels dotted all along the U.S. Route 66 in Gallup, Tucumcari, Moriarty, and between McCartys and San Fidel. The Moriarty station is the last operating location amidst the iconic chain. Today, people know it as Sal & Inez’s Service Station which features the refurbished red and yellow Whiting Brothers sign.
Kelly’s Brew Pub
If you choose to dine on the patio of Kelly’s Brew Pub, you will have the opportunity to look right out over the historic Route 66. This pub is also the former home of an old service station and dealership, Jones Motor Company. The Route 66-era garage was designed to attract customers and was one of the first westbound icons along the highway.
KiMo Theatre has been a landmark in Albuquerque since it opened its doors in 1927. It has an oddly ornate Pueblo Deco style that is distinguishable from the street, but the true treat is the interior. The interior features various significant Pueblo symbols including rain clouds, buffalo skulls, and birds. The name is said to be a combination of the two Tewa words meaning “mountain lion” or “king of its kind”.
San Miguel Church
Prior to 1938, when the highway was realigned, Route 66 went through Santa Fe, NM. Along the original route was the San Miguel Church, which is America’s oldest church dating back to 1610. The original adobe walls and altar were constructed by the Tlaxcalan Indians who accompanied Don Juan Onate from Mexico.
A poll from Route 66 enthusiasts voted this throw-back diner as one of the top 20 places to eat along the “Mother Road”. Comet opened in 1929 and has been in the same family for several generations. It is well-known for its made-from-scratch Mexican fare such as dishes featuring the famous “PDL green chile” from Puerto del Luna. This diner was originally a drive-in, but it hasn’t had any carhops since 1994 when the original Comet burned down, hence the name Comet II.
Tucumcari Ranch Supply
Amongst all the hardware and feed at this ranch supply store, you will find a unique array of trailer parts, tourist gear, western wear, and rusty treasures. One of the biggest surprises you will find is the bakery, which has an extensive donut menu and features Watson’s BBQ.