Getaway Along Route 66 | Midwest Living

Getaway Along Route 66

American history unfolds in all its retro-kitsch glory on this journey that starts in Chicago and runs southwest through the state to St. Louis and on to California. Unplug from the modern everyday on a nostalgic, friendlier-than-a-front-porch journey along the Illinois stretch of Route 66.

Day 1

The journey begins with an early breakfast of salmon Benedict or an apple and cheese omelet at Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant and Bakery in downtown Chicago

Stop in at the Joliet Area Historical Museum’s Route 66 Welcome Center to plan your trip and get the scoop on the route's Muffler Men. Tours of the refurbished 1926 Rialto Square Theatre (Tuesdays only) reveal its Greek, Roman and Byzantine architecture.

Restored 1930s service stations filled with vintage tools remain at Ambler Becker Texaco Gas Station in Dwight and at Odell’s Standard Oil Gas Station.

Odell's Standard Gas Station

Comfort foods like pork chop sandwiches await at the fave Old Log Cabin.

Gas pumps, motel signs, photographs, maps and other items pack Pontiac’s Route 66 Association Hall of Fame in an old fire station.

At Livingston County War Museum, stories of wartime and military weaponry pay tribute to soldiers.

Day 2

An often-changing lineup of autos reveals cars like rare Oakland autos and Firebirds at Pontiac-Oakland Museum and Resource Center.

Pontiac's 24 outdoor murals showcase the local cultural scene, and three swinging bridges cross the Vermilion River to connect with parks.

Outdoor murals in Pontiac.

An outdoor mural in Pontiac

Tours of Atlanta’s 1904 J.W. Hawes Grain Elevator (open summer Sundays and by request) raise interest in agriculture.

Throwback decor and a menu with classics like fried bologna sandwiches make Atlanta's Palms Grill Cafe feel old-school in the very best way.

The decor at Springfield's Route 66 Hotel and Conference Center includes gas pumps and motorcycles.

Day 3

The Million Dollar Courthouse in Carlinville proves interesting for its architecture and tales of corruption.

Ask to see the scrapbook of Route 66 travelers and sample the fried chicken at The Ariston Cafe, open on Route 66 in Litchfield since 1935.

In Livingston, a 1940s schoolhouse contains The Pink Elephant Antique Mall, where you’ll find vintage clothing and furniture.

Thick pork chops and pie satisfy diners in the relaxed atmosphere of Weezy’s Route 66 Bar and Grill in Hamel.

In Collinsville, check out the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle.

More information: Route 66 (815) 844-4566;

Save the date 

Each fall, more than a thousand hot rods and vintage motorcycles pour into Springfield for the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival. Live music and food vendors fuel the fun in September. (317) 236-6515;

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