The plan is for today to be my last in Illinois. I’ll be the first to admit my recent plans haven’t gone entirely right, but I do feel it’s time to move into the next phase of this road trip.
Illinois has been full of kitschy Route 66 sightings. If you ever want to take the Mother Road through the Prairie State, here are five things you shouldn’t miss.
1. Lou Mitchell’s. This little diner in Chicago has been sending Route 66 travellers off since the Road began. Stop in, have the coffee and the pancakes. And the ice cream, no matter what time of day it is. It’s the only way to get your trip off on the right foot.
2. Pontiac Route 66 sites. This includes the Route 66 museum, with knickknacks from every stop in Illinois. There’s a shovel that was used to create the road and a table from the original Steak N’ Shake in Normal, IL. There’s also a mural tour to take around the city that captures the spirit of freedom and the nostalgia of the road.
3. Memory Lane. The original stretch of Route 66 in Lexington is complete with old-timey signs that would have called to the original travellers. With its amount of disrepair, it’s clear why the road was originally decommissioned. Though you can only drive down it during special events, it’s a nice stroll any time.
4. The Atlanta Library and Clock Tower. (Skip the Palms Cafe.) This is a nice place to relax, for one thing, with the Route 66 Park in the town’s square. The library and clock are an amazing example of architecture and the information about the Keepers of the Clock was interesting and inspiring. This town is all about preserving history and the Keepers of the Clock are truly representative of that.
5. The World’s Largest Covered Wagon in Lincoln. It’s dumb and kitschy, but it is the World’s Largest and it’s an interesting piece for making you think.
I have a few more sites to see today that I may add to this list, but this is a good way to start a traditional trip down Route 66.