Looking for Route 66 Tips and Tricks

MinnesoTristan

Earning My Ears
Joined
Apr 30, 2020
My best friend and I are planning a Route 66 road trip, with another friend potentially joining us. I have seen much more of the East than the West, so I thought I would post our tentative itinerary here for feedback and suggestions from people who have traveled the Mother Road. We are coming from Minneapolis, MN, plus Appleton and Waukesha, Wisconsin, so we would be meeting at my parents' house near Milwaukee and starting the trip from there. We were originally going to drive west and fly back east but decided that we're not ready to fly yet. Driving would eliminate the one-way rental car and flight home, even though it means more driving and less time at our destination. We also decided that we would take the freeway most of the distance, and do stretches of the original highway in the southwest, like New Mexico and Arizona. We also swapped out Saint Louis for Kansas City, to add Iowa and Kansas to the trip, and decided to take a different way home to add Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska. Lastly, the places in parentheses are regional fast-food chains that are unique to the states we're visiting. I was working off a list I found online, this is an area where I'm especially interested in suggestions. The actual travel time worked out to be about eight hours a day for four days in each direction, which would allow time for roadside attractions. I'm better at planning the logistics (and where to eat) than I am at finding off the beaten path destinations to visit, so open to ideas in this area too.

Thursday, March 18: Travel day to Milwaukee

Friday, March 19: Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri
1:35 - Milwaukee to Chicago (Portillo’s)
5:02 - Chicago to Des Moines (Pancheros)
2:55 - Des Moines to Kansas City (Lion’s Choice)
9:32 Total

Saturday, March 20: Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas
2:59 - Kansas City to Wichita (Freddy’s)
2:25 - Wichita to Oklahoma City (Taco Bueno)
3:54 - Oklahoma City to Amarillo (Torchy’s Tacos)
9:18 Total

Sunday, March 21: New Mexico, Arizona
4:18 - Amarillo to Albuquerque (Twister’s)
4:48 - Albuquerque to Flagstaff (Raising Cane’s)
9:06 Total

Monday, March 22: California
Side Trip to Grand Canyon
7:07 - Flagstaff to Los Angeles (In-N-Out)

Tuesday, March 23: Southern California
Possible things I want to do on our day off from driving include plane-spotting at the In 'n' Out by LAX, the Redondo Beach pier which was a filming location for one of my favorite shows, the O.C., the Griffith Park Observatory, and the Getty Center. I know Los Angeles is very spread out and we might not make it to everything, so I'm interested in suggestions for this day.

Wednesday, March 24: Nevada, Utah
4:04 - Los Angeles to Las Vegas (Taco Time)
4:07 - Las Vegas to Richfield
8:12 Total

Thursday, March 25: Colorado
3:17 - Richfield to Grand Junction
3:56 - Grand Junction to Denver (Good Times)
7:13 Total

Friday, March 26: Nebraska
7:54 - Denver to Omaha (Runza)

Saturday, March 27:
2:02 - Omaha to Des Moines
5:35 - Des Moines to Milwaukee (Kopps)
7:37 Total

Sunday, March 28: Travel Home from Milwaukee

States Visited: 14
 
  • chickapin parterre

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 18, 2014
    “and decided to take a different way home to add Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska”
    ....okay....so headed west, what are your plans between Kingman and Needles.....on your trip east I would like to detour you from repeating what you traveled and take another historic route from San Berdino and head east on 10, drop down to the border and then take 95 to vegas. A food chain Rallys is this area and very important bridge in highway travel Trans-pacific..may ad a few hours, but you can travel along san andreas fault line, see date orchards, the EPA Salton sea and so much more.
     

    wingednike

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2010
    I can't help with much of anything except the regional food chain suggestions, if you want them. Based on what family from outside California get when they come back to visit, Yoshinoya and Jack in the Box are sorely missed. In N Out is a given😉
     

    Jason2015

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 12, 2016
    Your trip looks awesome. Lots of open country in the SW. Make sure you have a good weather app and check it often. I40 between the NM boarder and west of Flagstaff gains elevation and might see snow in late March.
    Going back East again check weather. The I70 stretch between Richland and Grand Junction is wide open desert. Very pretty but bad weather can make it tricky. Make sure you have at least 1/2 tank of gas as you pass Green River UT. There is nothing for close to 100 miles between it and close to Grand Junction.
    Four hours between Grand Junction and Denver is generous. You can do that on a dry, clear day. But Vail Pass is over 10000 feet and snow is a very real possibility at the end of March. I’d realistically plan 5.5 hours or more for that stretch.
    I76 East of Denver is wide open and can move quickly but make sure the driver has had plenty of sleep.
    Good Times, Freddy’s and Ruza are all pretty good. Taco Time is meh. Taco Johns however is pretty good. Have a great time and make sure to stop and enjoy the drive.
     
  • DL1WDW2

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2019
    If you plan to eat at the In n Out nearLAX to watch planes ... the best view nearby in El Segundo is called Clutters Park . Whenever I stayed overnight at the Embassy Suites I would walk to this popular location.
    It’s not actually a park . It has some picnic tables and benches to sit and watch the incredible view.
    If I was going to Las Vegas, I absolutely would visit the Neon Boneyard . And probably eat at the Peppermill Lounge Open 24 hours. . Share the fruit plate with a side of marshmallow cream.
    And try to find a BBQ Chain to stop at for Burnt Ends or pulled pork!
    And White Castle get a couple doubles and a Coke !

    Supposedly the Worlds Biggest White Castle is coming to DisneyWorlds Backyard ...Eater.com 11/17/19
     
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    DL1WDW2

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2019
    So you just want to see the sunset o er the Pacific and turn around to go home?

    P.s. I think the Lions Choice is a St.Louis thing and not KcMo.
    If you do visit KCMO , I would drive on State Line Road which actually is a street that separates Missouri and Kansas. So your neighbor across the street has different mail delivery or Fire , Police, etc....
    great tool to explain the concept of geography term in the classroom.I used this for a Where’s Waldo assignment. And there is a township in KC area called Waldo !
     
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    Douglas Dubh

    True Fiscal Conservative
    Joined
    Nov 13, 1999
    Are your start and end dates set? Because I would suggest adding a few more days if possible. I’ve driven across the US a few times and if you’re driving nine or more hours a day then you aren’t giving yourself any time to stop and look at things, even briefly. By the time you check into and out of hotels, shower, eat three meals, and stop for gas and restroom breaks, you’re on the road from sun up to sundown.
     
  • Huff

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 2, 2007
    So many great places to eat in Arizona besides chains, although Raising Canes is good. Hopefully you'll find time to enjoy the area around Williams, AZ. Deer petting zoo, zip line, several old fashioned 66 diners in Williams (For breakfast we love Pine Country Inn, excellent pies). In Williams be sure to visit Bearizona, a drive thru and walk thru animal park. Very well done. Along 66 between Ash Fork and Kingman is Grand Canyon caverns. Well worth a stop. Closer to Kingman is the Keeper of the Wild animal sanctuary with tigers, bears, coyotes, and many others.
     
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    MinnesoTristan

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Apr 30, 2020
    To answer the question about swapping out St. Louis for Kansas City, there were multiple reasons for that decision. It was kind of mutual between my best friend and I. She has been to St. Louis more than Kansas City, and I’ve never been to either, but Kansas City is more interesting to me. I had watched Adam the Woo on YouTube do a Route 66 trip, and they went up the Gateway Arch. Both my friend and I have claustrophobia, so definitely won’t be doing that!
    If we take 80 to 35, we get to spend more time in Iowa and Kansas than we would if we followed Route 66 proper, so it would check off more states from the bucket list. I absolutely agree that only spending one full day in California is not enough, and we are starting to consider delaying the trip until we can do it proper. I’m sure that many people in this thread realize how planning travel right now is like hitting a moving target. I’m sure the trip we plan and the trip we take may not be the same trip.
     

    MinnesoTristan

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Apr 30, 2020
    If we waited until we could drive one way and drive the other, which would be better, East to West, or West to East?
     

    twoolle

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2014
    To answer the question about swapping out St. Louis for Kansas City, there were multiple reasons for that decision. It was kind of mutual between my best friend and I. She has been to St. Louis more than Kansas City, and I’ve never been to either, but Kansas City is more interesting to me. I had watched Adam the Woo on YouTube do a Route 66 trip, and they went up the Gateway Arch. Both my friend and I have claustrophobia, so definitely won’t be doing that!
    If we take 80 to 35, we get to spend more time in Iowa and Kansas than we would if we followed Route 66 proper, so it would check off more states from the bucket list. I absolutely agree that only spending one full day in California is not enough, and we are starting to consider delaying the trip until we can do it proper. I’m sure that many people in this thread realize how planning travel right now is like hitting a moving target. I’m sure the trip we plan and the trip we take may not be the same trip.
    I see. We live outside STL and make the drive on 44 to Tulsa quite frequently so i am a little biased! It is true route 66 and there are lots of little places you can stop along the way. Driving through Iowa and Kansas can be a little rough with the lack of scenery.

    Lions choice is a st louis thing. It's ok but I prefer Arby's.
     

    DL1WDW2

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2019
    Are you AAA member? They have great TripTik that has to be be ordered in advance but they also alert you to potential construction delays and gas station , etc. plus towing with a fast response mobile van to aid with gas or lock outs or jumpstart or battery replacement.
    I recommend it for a road trip. I also have OnStar in my car. And don’t forget to have your car “serviced” before you depart. And monitor weather.
     
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