It was the route of Midwesterners escaping ruined farmland and young men seeking adventure under the bright lights of Los Angeles. Thousands of Brady Bunch families traveled by the soda fountains, classic court motels, and neon lights in the 60s. It stared in the movie “Cars” and made a cameo appearance in “The Grapes of Wrath.” Historic Route 66 – The Mother Road – is one of the iconic highways in America. Arizona’s Historic Route 66 spans more than 385 miles including the longest original alignment section still in use. The road began as Beale’s Wagon Road, National Old Trails Road, the Santa Fe Highway and other old road remnants that were pulled together as part of a cross- country highway spanning from Chicago to Los Angeles. Even though planning started in 1914, Route 66 wasn’t completely paved until 1937.
When, in the face of the interstate, the road began to decline, local Seligman barber Angel Delgadillo gathered together 30 business and attractions owners who decided to take action. He founded the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, which you can meet in Kingman. Even though Interstate 40 now runs over some of the original roadbed, the quaint charming towns along the old route are still waiting to be explored. There may be kitschy things, trading posts and original hotels and motels, but that’s the fun of it. Elsewhere, neon lit drags filled with classic cars, cowboys, diners, and ever-changing times coexist peacefully with National Park sites, incredible natural phenomenon, historic restorations and more. The stories of locals are a wonderful part of the journey not to be missed. Ask your waitress at a local restaurant what’s going on – and get ready for whatever the answer may be. Plan to savor and enjoy your entire journey across Arizona – as the song says “Get Your Kicks on Route 66!”