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.
Odell's Standard Oil Gas Station.
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Ambler Becker Texaco Gas Station.
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Outdoor murals in Pontiac.
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Like this instant itinerary? Our 2015 Best of the Midwest® travel guide includes more than 70 weekend getaway plans. Buy it at newsstands or online at The Meredith Store.

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 Joliet’s Route 66 Welcome Center to plan your trip. Seasonal tours of the refurbished 1926 Rialto Square Theatre reveal its Greek, Roman and Byzantine architecture.

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

Pork chop sandwiches and other comfort foods await at the fave Old Log Cabin.

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

An often-changing lineup of autos reveals vintage Pontiac station wagons and race cars, and Oakland cars at Pontiac-Oakland Museum and Resource Center.

The town’s 24 outdoor murals showcase the local cultural scene, and three swinging bridges cross the Vermilion River to connect Chautauqua Park and Play Park.

Day 2

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.

A self-guided tour of Atlanta’s J.W. Hawes Grain Elevator raises interest in agriculture.

You’ll love the pie at Palms Grill Cafe.

The decor at themed Route 66 Hotel and Conference Center in Springfield consists of miniature cars, gas pumps and motorcycles (from $66).

Day 3

Seek out Becky’s Barn, 4 miles south of Chatham, for stories and shopping for collectibles and antiques.

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 artichoke hearts and tenderloin at The Ariston Cafe in Litchfield.

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

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;

One big party! 

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 (September 25–27, 2015). (800) 545-7300; 

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