One of the first national highways in the United States for motor vehicles, Route 66—also known as U.S. Route 66 or "The Main Street of America" —became a cultural landmark in the country. It is home to many roadside attractions that have captivated the public for decades. Below is a list of the most charming attractions you’ll find on the way.
At the Apache and Navajo counties in Arizona you will find the Petrified Forest National Park. The park was inhabited thousands of years ago by indigenous groups of people, where they used the land for crops and shelter.
The eerie site is named after its abundance of petrified wood; trees that were fossilized by volcanic ash, some for hundreds of millions of years. For a surreal experience in the colored terrain of Arizona, the petrified forest is where you need to go.
Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch
Along the route in California, you may come across Elmer Long's Bottle Tree Ranch, a unique little forest locaed where you’d least expect it.
This “forest” is actually made up of hundreds of empty glass bottles collected by Elmer Long. Rather than waste perfectly good bottles, Elmer decided to start an art installation that has grown to encompass nearly 200 trees. Though Elmer sadly passed away in 2019, you can still walk through the colorful trees and enjoy the fruits of one man’s incredibly creative labor.
This 560 ft. deep crater was created by a meteorite slamming into Arizona around 50,000 years ago. With a diameter nearly a mile wide, this attraction looks like something right out of a sci-fi movie. The crater is privately owned, and is named after Daniel Barringer, who obtained the right to excavate the site and prove it was caused by a meteor.
This site is a guaranteed slam dunk with people of all backgrounds. Explore the crater and take a tour with the Meteor Crater Visitor Center as you think of our place among the stars.
The Blue Whale
If you were looking for a picturesque picnic spot near the lake, look no further than the Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma. The iconic whale was originally made by Hugh Davis as a gift to his wife, and she opened It up to the public for all to enjoy. She began to operate a small park centered around the whale, but it soon fell into disrepair. Members of the community loved the whale so much that they renovated it so that visitors today can admire the 80 ft long creature as they fish and eat near the lake.
The Gemini Giant
Along Route 66, you’ll find several so-called “Muffler Men” towering over tourists and residents as they pass by. These fiberglass giants were first conceived of as advertising props to draw attention to diners, but they grew to become attractions in their own right.
Looking down at us from 30 feet above ground, the Gemini Giant is one of the largest such muffler men. He is named after the Gemini space program, harkening back to the days of the Space Race of the Cold War. He is one of the most recognizable landmarks on Route 66, and is a great addition to your family photos.
World’s Second Largest Rocking Chair
This quirky attraction was revealed on April Fool’s Day, 2008, and has been a landmark on Route 66 ever since. The chair was built specifically to be the largest rocking chair in the world. At 42 ft tall, it held the Guinness World Record for nearly seven years and was made to rock back-and-forth like the real thing. For safety reasons, the chair had to be welded to the ground to stop it from moving, but sight-seers continue to flock to this spot to see the chair in all its glory.
World’s Largest Catsup Bottle
Looking for more record-breaking attractions? The Catsup Bottle has become a well-known symbol of Collinsville and the Metro East's regional culture. The G.S. Suppiger Company's Collinsville facility needed a water tower, so they constructed the bottle which doubles as a fun tourist attraction.
It is also a beloved feature of the Collinsville community, who banded together to restore the bottle after years of wear and tear. If you plan your trip right, you could attend the Words Largest Catsup Bottle Festival to celebrate the iconic monument.
Jack Rabbit Trading Post
The Jack Rabbit Trading Post is a simple store in Arizona named after a rabbit statue that Jim Taylor had at the back of his car. Since 1949, the store has attracted road trippers wanting to sit on and take pictures of the rabbit.
A large sign with a silhouette of a rabbit and the words ‘HERE IT IS” stands outside the store. Ironically, the sign is now arguably more famous than the rabbit it was modelled after, and is an instantly recognizable landmark.
Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway
The Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is the longest aerial tramway in North America. See the breath-taking views of the New Mexico terrain as you soar over its canyons and hills during the sunset. If you’re looking to end the day on a chill note, then the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway is the place to be.
And there you have it. These are the most charming spots on the historic Route 66; make sure to add them to your itinerary for your next big road trip!