Built in 1926, what is known as the Main Street of America has transported millions of people in search of just about anything and everything. Almost 2,500 miles long, the road has served as an important route for decades, and 20 years ago, saw portions of it designated a National Scenic Byway, known as Historic Route 66. Beginning in Chicago, and taking in the best of the Midwest, you'll experience cowboy culture in Oklahoma, see the world wonder of the Grand Canyon and soak up the bright lights of Las Vegas before arriving into Santa Monica on California's sun-drenched Pacific coast.
Days 1-2: Depart UK, Arrive Chicago
It's a long road ahead, so what better way to begin your Route 66 driving holiday than with included airport lounge access before your daytime flight to Chicago. Spend the next day exploring the city, perhaps discovering its vibrant art and music scene, internationally renowned for its soul, gospel, jazz and blues. There's some wonderfully eclectic dining to enjoy, too, from the 26 Michelin-starred restaurants to iconic hot dogs and deep-dish pizzas. Be sure to also take in the neon excitement of the Navy Pier and 'The Bean' in Millennium Park – a giant public art installation.
Stay: Hotel Lincoln or Palmer House Hilton (Superior)
Day 3: Springfield, Illinois
Pick up your hire car before heading onto Route 66. Your first stop will be Springfield, the state capital of Illinois. Once home to Abraham Lincoln, who lived and studied here during the mid-nineteenth century, Springfield is home to his presidential museum – also his home from 1837 to 1861 – while New Salem, a historic village, is just a short drive away. Our price includes an economy vehicle, but why not live the American muscle-car dream with an upgrade to a convertible Mustang, or similar? Ask our specialists for details.
Stay: Crowne Plaza (Superior)
Day 4: St. Louis, Missouri
Head on towards St Louis. If you're keen on baseball, beer and bowling, you’ll simply love this often-overlooked Mid-West city. Otherwise, you'll be instantly charmed by the famous Gateway Arch and a music scene that gave starts to the likes of Miles Davis and Chuck Berry.
Stay: Holiday Inn Downtown St. Louis - Downtown (Superior)
Day 5: Springfield, Missouri
With its sweeping views and network of hiking trails, the Ozark Mountains – the world's second-oldest range – frame your approach to Springfield, Missouri, the town officially recognised as the birthplace of Route 66. Famed for its country music, Springfield's Ozark Jubilee was the USA's first country music TV show, featuring such stars as Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline as it drew an audience of more than nine million throughout its 1950s heyday.
Stay: Best Western Rail Haven (Standard)
Day 6: Oklahoma City
Once a land of cowboys and Indians, the region around Oklahoma’s eponymous capital is one of endless dusty plains punctured by the occasional rocky outcrop. It's an evocative reminder of the old Wild West, which in turn is showcased in such cultural highlights as the city's National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and The American Indian Cultural Center.
Stay: Best Western Plus Saddleback Inn (Standard)
Day 7: Amarillo, Texas
Moving out from central Oklahoma, there's the chance to explore the National Route 66 Museum, whose collection of classic cars and replica drive-in theatre are straight out of 1950s America. You'll then head east, crossing the border into the Texas Panhandle to arrive at Amarillo. Embrace the Lone Star State's big-is-best culinary ethos at the city's acclaimed steak restaurants and smoke houses before heading to the surreal Cadillac Ranch on the outskirts of town.
Stay: Holiday Inn Amarillo West (Standard)
Days 8-9: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Drive on to Santa Fe, whose historic neighbourhoods set the scene for the country’s oldest annual fiesta. Designated as a UNESCO Creative City, Santa Fe has a vibrant arts, literature and music scene, with the likes of George R. R. Martin, D.H. Lawrence and Jack Schaefer all having lived here. Alternatively, if you prefer to get out into the countryside, the mountains surrounding the city host a vast network of hiking and biking trail.
Stay: Courtyard by Marriott Santa Fe (Standard)
Day 10: Flagstaff, Arizona
Head towards Flagstaff, where high-altitude hiking, craft breweries and bluegrass-jamming buskers await. Small in size but rich in culture, Flagstaff's population of 70,000 celebrate a number of annual festivals and events, including the Flagstaff Festival of Science, Hopi and Navajo Festivals of Arts and Crafts and Arizona Highland Celtic Festival in the summer and autumn seasons. Music festivals such as Pickin' in the Pines and Flagstaff Friends of Traditional Music Festival showcase the best in bluegrass and folk, something the area is highly regarded for.
Stay: Little America Hotel (Superior)
Days 11-12: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Make your way to the Grand Canyon – one of the world's seven natural wonders. Dating back around two billion years, the 277-mile long, 6,000 feet deep canyon is a World Heritage site that stays long in the memory. For the best views, and photos, its multi-coloured layers – which include some of the oldest exposed rock on the planet – drive the Desert View scenic route – a 25-mile jaunt along the Canyon's south rim. At sunset, the changing colours are truly spectacular.
Stay: Yavapai Lodge East (Standard)
Days 13-14: Las Vegas, Nevada
Big, bold, brash and unmistakably America, Las Vegas is an assault on the senses. You’ll have two ...
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