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Our top picks of the quirkiest digs along Route 66!

Author: Lauren Curd

November 11th 2016 marks the 90th anniversary of Route 66. Affectionately known as the Mother Road, this is the quintessential American cross-country road trip experience. Journey from Chicago some 2,500 miles through the heart of the country, ending in Los Angeles, where the route officially ends at the Santa Monica pier. Equally popular is to do the route in reverse. Either way, you won’t be able to miss the kooky roadside attractions, old motels and famous Route 66 hotels that pop up all along this iconic route.

Famous Route 66 Gate in Tulsa, Oklahoma

In celebration of this special commemoration, we have put together our top picks of the quirkiest digs along the road of dreams. Be it weird and wonderful facades, flashing neon lights or haunted hotels, Route 66 truly captures the eclectic imagination of the nation.


ACME Hotel

Not one for the conventional? Then look no further. The ACME Hotel has a cool high-tech vibe where art comes to life through its creative designs. The staff are friendly and the perks of staying here are plentiful. Perhaps best of all, it’s in a fantastic location just a couple of blocks away from the Magnificent Mile, a shoppers paradise.

Top things to do in Chicago:

  • Visit ‘the bean’ in Millennium Park
  • Take a spin on the giant Ferris wheel on the Historic Navy Pier
  • Swing by the historic Grant Park
  • Soak up the atmosphere in a local jazz bar

Springfield, Missouri:

Best Western Route 66 Haven

Travel back in time as you step through the doors at The Best Western Route 66 Haven Hotel. Located in the birthplace of Route 66, this hotel offers all the mod-cons you would ever need, but the vintage hotel signs, classic cars and polished gas pumps create a real sense of ‘old meets new’. Claiming to have hosted Elvis Presley in the 50s, the hotel now has a suite entirely dedicated to him, uh-huh.

Top sights to see in Missouri:

  • Stand under the iconic Gateway Arch in St Louis
  • Take a trip to Branson
  • Stroll through the Route 66 State Park
  • Cruise through Springfield to experience the Route 66 memorabilia

Amarillo, Texas:

Designed to resemble a typical street in an old Western Town, this is one of the quirkiest hotels not to be missed. Projecting Texas through and through, the colourful motel doesn’t miss a trick with the decor. With Texas-sized beds, a Texas-shaped swimming pool and when you get hungry, pop next door for a Texas-sized meal. If you’re a carnivore looking for a challenge, then you might decide to sign up for the Big Texan’s legendary 72 oz steak eating frenzy while you’re there.

Anything else around other than steak? Yes, here are some of the other top things to do:

  • Stop off at Cadillac ranch to spray paint ‘nose in the ground’ old Caddies
  • Wander through the eerie ghost town of Glenrio
  • Visit the iconic green petrol station, U-Drop Inn
  • Check out the vintage campers at Jack Sisemore Traveland RV Museum

Tucumcari, New Mexico:

Blue Swallow Motel

The Blue Swallow has been done up to look like exactly what it did in the 60s, which creates a feeling of nostalgia and retro kicks. Its no-wonder this hotel gets such great reviews, it’s unique, quirky and everyone gets a friendly welcome. Some people even plan their itineraries just so they can stay here!

Motel Safari

Treat yourself to a slice of Motel Americana at the Motel Safari. Emulating a modern retro charm and a laid-back feel, complete with a whopping great big sign out the front of a woman riding a camel. The hotel’s name came by defining the words motel – ‘motor home’ and safari ‘a long journey’. This formed the idea for the Motel of enabling guests to park their vehicle outside their rooms after a long journey, convenient.

Gallup, New Mexico:

El Rancho

El Rancho opened its doors in 1937 as a base for movie productions and temporarily homed a long list of famous movie stars throughout the decades. This historic Route 66 hotel is now an iconic location and popular pad for people to spend a night or two during their travels along the mother road.

The best bits of New Mexico:

  • Drive along the unpaved parts of Route 66 (watch your hire car, mind)
  • Pop into the Tee Pee Curios shop in Tucumcari
  • Marvel at Santa Fe’s adobe-style architecture
  • Take in the panoramic views of Albuquerque on the Sandia Peak Tramway

Holbrook, Arizona:

The Wigwam Motel

A striking example of a Route 66 motel, the Wigwam Motel is one of the most prominent landmarks in Arizona as you travel along the Main Street of America. What could be better than staying in such a unique setting in a property uniquely American?

Iconic things to see and do in Arizona:

  • Whip out your camera and get snap-happy at the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert
  • Visit the impressive meteor crater
  • Go off route to visit the mighty Grand Canyon

Downtown Los Angeles:

Cecil Hotel

Calling all horror-fanatics, this hotel might be right up your street! One of Los Angeles most famous hotels, the Cecil Hotel reportedly has a dark and gory past, having housed murderers and maniacs throughout the years. Unexplainable deaths and strange happenings are said to have gone on within the walls of the Cecil Hotel. It was also the main source of inspiration for the gruesome 5th season of American Horror Story, Hotel. Do you dare stay here?

It’s not all over yet, there’s plenty to see and do in California, here are our top picks:

  • Explore the wild and wonderful in Joshua Trees National Park
  • Visit the iconic Route 66 Museum in Victorville
  • Have some fun on Santa Monica Pier
  • Cruise along the final stretch of Route 66 before it turns into Sunset Boulevard


**This blog post was previously published on Medway Leisure Travel, now trading as Pettitts Travel**

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