Can't wait to go to these places!
Driving Route 66 complied a list of the top ten things to see on Route 66 in Illinois. Although I really want to see all of them, here are my top five:
1. Lincoln’s Home – Springfield
In my opinion, this might be one of the most history-filled stops on Route 66. Purchased by Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, back in 1844, this house was the only one Lincoln ever owned. While he lived in this house, he was elected to the House of Representative in 1846, and became President 14 years later. There’s so much history within the walls of this house, and luckily, the town of Springfield has restored the beautiful building back to its 1860 glory. Tours are available to the public for free, although tickets come on a first-come-first-served basis.
How much I want to visit: 8/10.
I’ve always been fascinated with Abraham Lincoln, and the fact I can see the house where we lived for most of his life is amazing. Walking into this house would be just like walking back into 1844. Also, mad props to Springfield for preserving this house!
2. Odell Station – Odell
Opening in 1932, this adorable gas station served Route 66 travelers the fuel they needed to continue their journeys until the mid-1960’s. After which, the gas station morphed into a car body shop. This building helped serviced hundreds of cars until 1975, when the Odell Station closed down. Not to worry though! Thanks to the efforts of the Illinois Route 66 Association and their Preservation Committee, this gas station-turned body shop is still open today. Now, the establishment serves as a tourist center, with volunteers available to help Route 66 travelers along their journey.
How much I want to visit: 8.3/10.
How cool is it the Illinois Route 66 Association worked with their Preservation Committee to revamp this building? I love how this structure served travelers back in the Route 66 glory days, and is continuing to do so for a new generation of sightseers. Plus, this sounds like a great place to stop and get some information about the Mother Road!
3. 360 Chicago – Chicago
Located in the commercial district of Chicago, and a few blocks away from the Route 66 “Begin” sign, this 100-floor skyscraper offers visitors a stunning view of the city’s skyline. Those feeling particularly brave and adventurous should check out the TILT section; this special area gives thrill-seekers a downward view of the city by leaning them forward! For people who want even more of an adrenaline high, there’s a special meshed-in section that allows visitors to get a taste of the literal winds of the Windy City 1,030 above ground!
How much I want to visit: 8.8/10
Okay, so even though this stop isn’t technically on Route 66, it’s close enough for me to count it. Being able to see such a beautiful city that high up sounds like an incredible experience! Also, trying to spot the “Begin” sign could be a fun game (probably impossible, but I’d be willing to try!).
The only downside is, I’m terrified of heights. I highly (pun intended) doubt I would try the TILT section, but I think I could muster up the courage to take in the stunning city view.
4. Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum – Pontiac
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Route 66 Association of Illinois, the Hall of Fame and Museum is chock-full of Route 66 memorabilia. Visitors can see artifacts such as Bob Waldmire (a Route 66 artist and icon)’s bus and van! In addition, the Route 66 shield mural out back serves as a great place to snap a few pictures. Fun fact: it’s also the largest shield mural!
How much I want to visit: 9.8/10
That mural is absolutely beautiful, and I bet it’s even better in person! I’m also very interested in seeing some of those Route 66 relics, that would be such a cool blast to the past! Also, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to see a glimpse into Bob Waldmire’s life (be on the lookout for an article about him, coming soon!)? This museum sounds like the perfect stop to learn more about the Mother Road!
5. Country Classic Cars – Staunton
What began as a hobby for a Midwestern farmer quickly became an iconic Route 66 stop. After acquiring a large plot of land along Interstate 55 and just off of Route 66, Country Classic Cars quickly bought out the area. Now, it’s a gorgeous display of classic cars and trucks, along with a gift shop and a garage/service area.
How much I want to visit: 100/10.
I was always surrounded by classic cars growing up (my dad has a 66 Chevy Chevelle, maybe some pictures are coming soon?), and this sounds like a dream come true to be able to see so many! Just think, these cars were what people were driving back in the pinnacle of Route 66. It’s crazy to see the difference! Plus, I could get some pretty cool souvenirs from that gift shop!
So, what do you think? Have you been to any of these places? Let me know in the comments below!