Explore It

One Mile
At A Time

Route 66

Route 66 defined a remarkable era in our nation's history - and it lives on today in Illinois' Route 66's many roadside attractions, museums, restaurants - and the shining ribbon of blacktop we call The Mother Road.

Explore It

One Mile
At A Time

Route 66

Route 66 defined a remarkable era in our nation's history - and it lives on today in Illinois' Route 66's many roadside attractions, museums, restaurants - and the shining ribbon of blacktop we call The Mother Road.

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New Photos From Route 66
International Mother Road Festival Springfield IL 9/26-9/28/14
Mill Car Cruise-In Lincoln IL 9/13/14
Berwyn Route 66 Car Show 9-6-14
Williamsville, IL
Virden, IL
Staunton, IL
Downtown Springfield, IL
Shea's Gas Station Museum
Springfield, IL 1
Nilwood, IL
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Videos From The Road
Illinois Route 66
Illinois Route 66
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Route 66 Stories, Ernie Edwards, Pig Hip Restaurant / Museum, Broadwell
Route 66 Stories, Ernie Edwards, Pig Hip Restaurant / Museum, Broadwell
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Illinois Route 66 Stories: Jim Jones - Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, Pontiac
Illinois Route 66 Stories: Jim Jones - Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, Pontiac
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Wmt795wJVVw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Route 66 Stories: Betty Estes - Illinois Route 66
Route 66 Stories: Betty Estes - Illinois Route 66
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/AqpgZTqjumY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Illinois Route 66 Stories: Shea's Gas Station Museum, Springfield
Illinois Route 66 Stories: Shea's Gas Station Museum, Springfield
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/swPIsXfb1Hk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Illinois Route 66 Attractions: Ariston Cafe, Litchfield
Illinois Route 66 Attractions: Ariston Cafe, Litchfield
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Illinois Route 66 Attractions: Ambler-Becker Texaco Station, Dwight
Illinois Route 66 Attractions: Ambler-Becker Texaco Station, Dwight
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/dBYY2Ze05x0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Illinois Route 66 Stories: Doc's Soda Fountain, Girard
Illinois Route 66 Stories: Doc's Soda Fountain, Girard
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Illinois Route 66 Attractions: Henry's Ra66it Ranch, Staunton
Illinois Route 66 Attractions: Henry's Ra66it Ranch, Staunton
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/j5elg_Rs-OA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
Illinois Route 66 Attractions: Knight's Action Park and Caribbean Water Adventure, Springfield
Illinois Route 66 Attractions: Knight's Action Park and Caribbean Water Adventure, Springfield
width="100%" style="width:100%; max-width:560px;" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/QuIOoRnuOcM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
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The Three Alignments
This era encompasses the "Golden Age" of Route 66 where America's car culture took hold. Drive-in theaters, Drive-in restaurants, and motels were born and developed along the Mother Road during this period.
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The concept of the "bypass" was first implemented on Route 66 during this era. Transportation infrastructure is well underway at this point in history as well and traveler expectations have risen, resulting in gas stations, motels, and formalized rest areas.
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The "original" Route 66 alignment in Illinois signifies a turning point in transportation history as the emphasis of long distance travel shifts from a fixed rail system to a traveler driven navigation. Illinois was the first state to boast having Route 66 paved from end to end. It is during this time period that the Mother Road was most often referred to as " The Hard Road."
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Featured Attraction
Adler Planetarium
, IL
Known as America's first planetarium, the Adler Planetarium is a beautiful space museum with amazing shows - astronomer's dream! Choose from programs and exhibitions in three full-sized theaters, including the Grainger Sky Theater - Adler's most technologically advanced.
featured story from the mother road
The Cow in the Corn Sculpture - Lincoln, IL

A collaboration from two Lincoln, Illinois artists has produced a 22’ tall x 25’ wide sculpture located in down town Lincoln on the corner of Pulaski and Sangamon streets. Moses Pinkerton and Jason Hoffman of Logan County Arts erected the large steel sculpture with the help of heavy equipment in a downtown area park on July 20th of 2014. The “66” part of the sculpture was “originally loops there for nostrils”, but the 66 that emerged in the design was “an added kicker in promoting the idea to the city (of Lincoln),” according to Pinkerton.

Upcoming Events
Joliet Area Historical Museum Indoor Music Series - Strung Out
Cahokia Mounds Winter Lecture Series
Catfish Days
Dana-Thomas House Presents Singer-Songwriter Ben Bedford in Concert
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum February Events
2015 Route 66 Association of Illinois Motor Tour - Miners, Mobsters and the Mother Road
Get the Led Out - Tribute to Led Zeppelin
Jekyll & Hyde - The Musical
Dave Mason's Traffic Jam
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway
Joliet Area Historical Museum Indoor Music Series - Strung Out
Cahokia Mounds Winter Lecture Series
Catfish Days
Dana-Thomas House Presents Singer-Songwriter Ben Bedford in Concert
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum February Events
2015 Route 66 Association of Illinois Motor Tour - Miners, Mobsters and the Mother Road
Get the Led Out - Tribute to Led Zeppelin
Jekyll & Hyde - The Musical
Dave Mason's Traffic Jam
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway
2/19/15
Joliet
1/25/15 - 3/22/15
Collinsville
7/23/15 - 7/26/15
Wilmington
2/14/15
Springfield
2/5/15 - 2/26/15
Springfield
6/12/15 - 6/14/15
Berwyn
3/14/15
Joliet
2/13/15
Joliet
2/6/15
Joliet
2/4/15
Joliet
2/19/15
Joliet
1/25/15 - 3/22/15
Collinsville
7/23/15 - 7/26/15
Wilmington
2/14/15
Springfield
2/5/15 - 2/26/15
Springfield
6/12/15 - 6/14/15
Berwyn
3/14/15
Joliet
2/13/15
Joliet
2/6/15
Joliet
2/4/15
Joliet
"Strung Out" plays Chicagoland's most unique classic rock, and they will bring their talent to Joliet Area Historical Museum on Thursday, February 19th in the museum's Caterpillar Auditorium. Get ready to sing, dance and enjoy the experience! Classic rock from the Beatles, Deep Purple, ELO, Chicago and much more.
A series of winter lectures at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site begins January 25th with a look at the natural disasters that shape societies and leave marks in the archaeological record. Presentations in February and March will explore what we know about the religion of the people who built Cahokia Mounds and how their designs were influenced by studying the stars and the moon.
Catfish played a large part in initiating the event, Catfish Days, after Forked Creek spilled over its banks and flooded the cellars of a section of Wilmington called, “Catfish Town”. The annual festival dates back to 1976, and features a carnival, live entertainment, flea market/craft show, 5K race, food & drink, catfish dinners and much more!
Ben Bedford, a Springfield singer and songwriter, will perform a Valentine's Day concert at the Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site. On three different albums, Bedford has told stories of people from a Confederate soldier’s wife to author Jack London to Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay. His songs take listeners from a plane in flight to the scene of a tragic crime. The concert begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14. The "Made for Music" concert series takes advantage of the Dana-Thomas House’s brilliant architecture.
10th Anniversary festivities at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in February include a birthday party for the president, an in-depth look at a key Civil War battle and the first in a series of discussions with the people who created the museum.
The 2015 Motor Tour, Miners, Mobsters and the Mother Road, is traveling north to south this year and will be starting in Berwyn. The tour will also be making stops during the new Blue Carpet Corridor event. This will be the 26th year for the Route 66 Association of Illinois event.

Dubbed by the media as "The American Led Zeppelin," Get The Led Out brings what the audience want - a high energy Zeppelin concert with an honest, heart-thumping intensity. From the bombastic and epic, to the folky and mystical, Get The Led Out (GTLO) have captured the essence of the recorded music of Led Zeppelin and brought it to the concert stage.
Glamorous, sexy and deliciously wicked, Jekyll & Hyde is the enthralling musical based on Robert Louis Stevenson classic story about a brilliant but obsessive scientist whose alter ego wreaks havoc across Victorian London. An evocative tale of two men - one a doctor, passionate and romantic – the other, a terrifying madman; and two women - one, beautiful and trusting - the other, beautiful and trusting only herself.
Take a journey back to the greatest days of rock with Dave Mason's sight and sound experience, Traffic Jam. Join Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and co-founder of the legendary band Traffic, Dave Mason for an evening of music history as he retraces the earliest days of his career with Traffic and the works that launched his successful solo career.
Commemorate Black History Month at The Rialto with this inspiring production. This classic is a tribute to the great American who freed herself and hundreds of her people from the bonds of slavery. As Harriet and her friend Sarah Bradford narrate her adventurous life, we share in the joys, sorrows, and challenges faced by this brave woman, who changed the world through her courage.
"Strung Out" plays Chicagoland's most unique classic rock, and they will bring their talent to Joliet Area Historical Museum on Thursday, February 19th in the museum's Caterpillar Auditorium. Get ready to sing, dance and enjoy the experience! Classic rock from the Beatles, Deep Purple, ELO, Chicago and much more.
A series of winter lectures at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site begins January 25th with a look at the natural disasters that shape societies and leave marks in the archaeological record. Presentations in February and March will explore what we know about the religion of the people who built Cahokia Mounds and how their designs were influenced by studying the stars and the moon.
Catfish played a large part in initiating the event, Catfish Days, after Forked Creek spilled over its banks and flooded the cellars of a section of Wilmington called, “Catfish Town”. The annual festival dates back to 1976, and features a carnival, live entertainment, flea market/craft show, 5K race, food & drink, catfish dinners and much more!
Ben Bedford, a Springfield singer and songwriter, will perform a Valentine's Day concert at the Dana-Thomas House State Historic Site. On three different albums, Bedford has told stories of people from a Confederate soldier’s wife to author Jack London to Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay. His songs take listeners from a plane in flight to the scene of a tragic crime. The concert begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14. The "Made for Music" concert series takes advantage of the Dana-Thomas House’s brilliant architecture.
10th Anniversary festivities at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in February include a birthday party for the president, an in-depth look at a key Civil War battle and the first in a series of discussions with the people who created the museum.
The 2015 Motor Tour, Miners, Mobsters and the Mother Road, is traveling north to south this year and will be starting in Berwyn. The tour will also be making stops during the new Blue Carpet Corridor event. This will be the 26th year for the Route 66 Association of Illinois event.

Dubbed by the media as "The American Led Zeppelin," Get The Led Out brings what the audience want - a high energy Zeppelin concert with an honest, heart-thumping intensity. From the bombastic and epic, to the folky and mystical, Get The Led Out (GTLO) have captured the essence of the recorded music of Led Zeppelin and brought it to the concert stage.
Glamorous, sexy and deliciously wicked, Jekyll & Hyde is the enthralling musical based on Robert Louis Stevenson classic story about a brilliant but obsessive scientist whose alter ego wreaks havoc across Victorian London. An evocative tale of two men - one a doctor, passionate and romantic – the other, a terrifying madman; and two women - one, beautiful and trusting - the other, beautiful and trusting only herself.
Take a journey back to the greatest days of rock with Dave Mason's sight and sound experience, Traffic Jam. Join Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and co-founder of the legendary band Traffic, Dave Mason for an evening of music history as he retraces the earliest days of his career with Traffic and the works that launched his successful solo career.
Commemorate Black History Month at The Rialto with this inspiring production. This classic is a tribute to the great American who freed herself and hundreds of her people from the bonds of slavery. As Harriet and her friend Sarah Bradford narrate her adventurous life, we share in the joys, sorrows, and challenges faced by this brave woman, who changed the world through her courage.
Joliet Area Historical Museum Indoor Music Series - Strung Out
2/19/15
Joliet
Cahokia Mounds Winter Lecture Series
1/25/15 - 3/22/15
Collinsville
Catfish Days
7/23/15 - 7/26/15
Wilmington
Dana-Thomas House Presents Singer-Songwriter Ben Bedford in Concert
2/14/15
Springfield
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum February Events
2/5/15 - 2/26/15
Springfield
2015 Route 66 Association of Illinois Motor Tour - Miners, Mobsters and the Mother Road
6/12/15 - 6/14/15
Berwyn
Get the Led Out - Tribute to Led Zeppelin
3/14/15
Joliet
Jekyll & Hyde - The Musical
2/13/15
Joliet
Dave Mason's Traffic Jam
2/6/15
Joliet
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway
2/4/15
Joliet
Joliet Area Historical Museum Indoor Music Series - Strung Out
2/19/15
Joliet
Cahokia Mounds Winter Lecture Series
1/25/15 - 3/22/15
Collinsville
Catfish Days
7/23/15 - 7/26/15
Wilmington
Dana-Thomas House Presents Singer-Songwriter Ben Bedford in Concert
2/14/15
Springfield
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum February Events
2/5/15 - 2/26/15
Springfield
2015 Route 66 Association of Illinois Motor Tour - Miners, Mobsters and the Mother Road
6/12/15 - 6/14/15
Berwyn
Get the Led Out - Tribute to Led Zeppelin
3/14/15
Joliet
Jekyll & Hyde - The Musical
2/13/15
Joliet
Dave Mason's Traffic Jam
2/6/15
Joliet
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railway
2/4/15
Joliet
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LATEST NEWS FROM ROUTE 66
Newly released "Missing 66" song includes Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Experience Hub
Dec 12, 2014

The Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway wanted to take this opportunity to share with the Route 66 community a newly released song/video entitled “Missing 66” that happens to include one of the byway’s Experience Hub exhibits in Normal, Illinois.

The song is performed by Dyed In Blue – Canadian singer/songwriter Patrick Grehan, from the album “Moment of Leaving.” The acoustic song features Patrick on vocals and guitar, including the use of an EBow, which Grehan describes as “a device that’s held over guitar strings to produce a kind of electric violin effect."


Palms Grill Cafe in Atlanta Honored with "Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination" Award
Dec 12, 2014

The Palms Grill Cafe in Atlanta has received an "Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination" award. The announcement was made on December 8th by the Illinois Office of Tourism and the Logan County Tourism Bureau. The award is designated to restaurants that are "beloved destinations for visitors and locals alike," according to a joint press release from both agencies.

“From family-owned restaurants with long and storied histories to the hottest new cuisines in the world, Illinois has emerged as a premier culinary destination for both domestic and international visitors,” said Jen Hoelzle, Illinois State Travel Director. “The ‘Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination’ award honors those restaurants that are authentically Illinois, making a trip to the state unforgettable.”
Shea’s Gas Station Museum in Springfield, IL is the Latest Illinois Route 66 Iconic Attraction to Go on Sale
Nov 24, 2014

WICS-TV News Channel 20 in Springfield officially broke the story on 11/23/14 that Bill Shea’s Gas Station Museum on Route 66 in Springfield is up for sale. Speculation of this fact has been swirling since the death of Bill Shea Sr. last year at the age of 91. Yesterday, Bill Shea Jr. made it official in a story broadcast by reporter Evan Peterson. Shea’s plans for selling the world-famous museum at this time are through “word of mouth”. In the interview, Shea Jr and his daughter explained they don’t have the resources within the family to keep the museum open. It is unclear if the museum will be sold as a whole or parceled out in portions and whether it will remain in its original location.

Illinois Representatives appointed to National Route 66 Steering Committee
Oct 31, 2014

As a result of the National Route 66 Road Ahead roundtable held in Anaheim, California in November, 2013, a steering committee has been formed to move ahead with the agenda set at the conference. Four Illinois representatives have now been chosen: Bill Kelly, Executive Director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway; Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell; Bill Thomas, Interim Executive Director of the Lincoln/Logan County Development Partnership; and Jen Hoelzle, deputy director of the Illinois Office of Tourism (IOT).


Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket Honored with “Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination” Award
Oct 29, 2014

Oak Brook/DuPage County  – The Illinois Office of Tourism (IOT) and DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau announced on 10/22/14 that Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket, located in Willowbrook, is a recipient of an “Enjoy Illinois: Delicious Destination” award, which honors local food establishments around the state that are beloved destinations for visitors and locals alike.

Dell Rhea’s is among a select group of Illinois establishments to receive the unique designation from the tourism bureau. All award winners will receive a certificate from the state and a window cling to inform diners of the state designation. Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket opened in the summer of 1946 on Historic Illinois Route 66. Because of the amount of traffic and distance from Chicago, the Chicken Basket was the perfect stopping place going to or coming from Chicago.