17.07.2011 - 17.08.2011
A couple of people have messaged me about our Route 66 trip that we took last summer, so I thought i would post as much info as I can think of about our trip to help anyone else who was thinking of venturing down the Mother Road! Hope this all helps!! :-)
Route 66 itself is not very well maintained and so you can only drive at about 60mph on it because any faster would damage your tyres. It runs directly parallel to the new Route 66 which is the main highway that was built. You will more or less be driving right alongside this new highway for a majority of your journey, and sometimes Route 66 even merges with this new highway andyou will have no choice but to drive on it. It is reassuring to know you are on the right track when you can see the highway though! And sometimes when you need to make up some time and drive a bit faster you can just pop onto the highway for a while. I would say try and stick to Route 66 old road though because there are so many novelty sights to stop and see that you wouldnt notice if you were on the highway! Definately buy a map of Route 66 when youre out there, and we also had an American Sat Nav which proved invaluable! You can hire these with your rental car. There are lots of sign posts for "Old Historical Route 66", they are usually brown and white, so if in doubt just keep an eye out for those!
TIME OF YEAR AND WHEN TO TRAVEL:
We travelled Route 66 last summer (2011), and it was the best experience of our lives! I would suggest you drive it East to West (Chicago to LA) because of the time differences as you travel through the different states means that you will gain hours instead of lose them which maskes for a longer experience somewhat! We travelled in July and August as well which meant the temperatures were soaring well in to the 100's in places like Kansas, Texas and Vegas. But as long as you have a good car with air conditioning you will be fine.
We booked our car with Enterprise car rentals which seemed the most reasonable. I wouldnt bother booking the car before you fly out there because they often put on extra charges so by the time you get there you would end up paying more than you bargained for. At least when you are out there you can shop around for a good deal and negotiate face to face. Enterprise were great to be fair, our car had a mechanical problem half way along our travels and i rang the help line who quickly arranged for us to swap our car over at a nearby Enterprise within an hour, with no charge thank goodness! Petrol is unbelievabley cheap out there, I think we spent just under $300 on fuel for the whole month!
In terms of accommodation, we also didnt book anything until we arrived there. We flew into New York and stayed with friends for a few days, and then rented our car and drove to Chicago where we had booked a hotel the night before online at www.hotwire.com This is a website that you can book cheap last minute hotels, but they dont tell you the name of the hotel until after you book it! Luckily ours turned out to be the Ramada, Lakeshore. The hotel was cheap enough, about $60 a night so we stayed for 2 nights and 3 days. After that we simply checked into a chain of motels called Motel 6 across our trip. You can book these the night before online at www.motel6.com/USA, or you could just chance it and call in at one if you spot one on the road. These motels are very basic, but serve their purpose and we found were the best value for money. Youre looking at about $50 per night, but they all have bed, tv, ensuite, some have balconys and pools, and most have wifi. We took a laptop with us on our trip so that we could contantly use the internet to book our last minute hotels/motels. We saved our money to book a lush hotel in Vegas!
We bought a Cool Box out there for us to keep bottled water, cold meats, and other bits of food in to keep them cool and kept it in the back of our car for things to eat and drink while we drove. this meant we didnt have to keep stopping and also saved money. We filled the cool box up with ice from the various motels we stayed in. We also bought a cheap iron as most motels dont have them! If you use a hair dryer you may also need to buy a cheap one because mine had practically no energy in it when i plugged it in out there!
Chicago is out of this world, its by far my fave US city. Make sure you visit Navy Pier, and take a little boat trip out to see the coastline its awesome. The hotel we stayed in overlooked Lake Michighan which was beautiful. Main sights to see:
-the giant Maralyn Monroe statue in the centre of the city next to the Chicago Tribune building.
- Millenium Park which has a giant metal bubble sculpture called Cloud Gate which is awesome to see! They have a really nice outdoor bar there too that serve amazing cocktails, and often have live music in the park.
- Nightlife in Chicago is great too, although its very casual, we went a bit dressed up but everyone there was dressed down! haha!
- Sears Tower, now called the Willis Tower, which has amazinf views of all of Chicago, and a "Sky Deck" which is a glass bottom ledge you can stand on (very nerve wracking!) The
-The road sign in the centre of Chicago that marks the start of Route 66.
- Trump Tower
We stopped of here specifically to visit the set of Prison Break the TV series! Dont know if you've ever seen it, but the actual prison where they filmed is there and it was awesome to see as we are big fans! haha!
You HAVE to stop here, is has an amazing historical Route 66 museum, along with amazing Route 66 street art and memorabilia on the walls, roads and buildings in this little town. People here were so lovely. (If you have watched the Billy Connely recent programme on Route 66, he also stopped here). Also in Illinois not far from Pontiac is the Gemini Giant, a huge green astronaut statue which is a famous sight on Route 66.
There are a few Route 66 museums here which you will see on the side of the road as you travel on the old Route 66 road.
The part that the old Route 66 travels through is a tiny section of Kansas, but its worth a short stop at the "4 Women On the Route" gas station! The woman who runs it is nuts, and talks about a million miles an hour, but shes a wealth of knowledge about the route, and her gas station is really retro and good for pics!
What a friendly place! I wish we could have stayed longer here, as we only had 2 days! But whilst here we visited the very first Phillips 66 gas station ever built on the route which is in McLean, Texas (good for pics!) and we stayed in Amarillo. In Amarillo is an a-ma-zing steak house called The Big Texan Steakhouse. Its a huuuuuge restaurant with a gift shop and bar, but the food (particularly the steaks and ribs) is soooo good. Plus they have a challange there, if you can eat an entire 72 ounce steak, you get it for free! Very funny to watch some of the men who take up the challange! They have to eat it on a stage with a 1 hour timer above their heads! I would recommend spending a few days in texas and explore a bit more, I wish we could have!
Shortly after leaving Amarillo, you will come across the Leaning Watertower (on your right) keep an eye out as its a famous landmark, and even better, Cadillac Ranch (on your left!) as you drive on the new Route 66. Watch out for it as they look like a line of black dots when your driving, but you really should pull over and walk out to see it. Its a big row of Cadillac cars that are buried nose first into the sand. Every year, thousands of people visit to grafitti their names on the cars (which we also did!).
SANTA ROSA, NEW MEXICO
We stopped here to visit the much talked about Blue Hole. This is a natural lagoon in the middle of a small town, which is a little hard to locate as its not that well sign posted but ask some of the locals and they can direct you. Its beautiful there! We spent a couple of hours diving off the big rock into the beautiful blue water (which was freezing!). Definately worth a stop!
I cant say I enjoyed New Mexico at all, it was like the state that America forgot! Most of the journey through it was just desert with random trailers dotted here and there, and the more built up areas we travelled through were run down, and quite rough. We only stayed one night in a random town and that was because it was getting dark and had no choice! If you can drive through it in one day, I would suggest you just get through and on with your journey!
GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA
This landmark has been a lifelong dream of mine and it didnt dissapoint! It is about an hour off the Route 66, and an hour back to route 66 again afterwards, but its worth it. Incredible!
HOOVER DAM, LAS VEGAS
We visited this on the same day as Grand Canyon, on our way to Vegas. Its very impressive and worth a stop!
Such an awesome place! We could have spent a week there! Instead we had 3 nights, 4 days. We stayed in Southpoint Casino Hotel, which we booked prior to arriving, only $60 per night! This price is amazing as the hotel is incredible. It has its very own casino, about 5 or 6 restaurants, gorgeous pool area, and rooms are fantastic. Its huge! Also in the hotel casino its only $1 minimum bets, where as on the main strip in Vegas its $25 minimum bets! So we would gamble only in our hotel for the beginning of the night, because it was so cheap, and also because if you are betting at a table, the waitresses bring you free drinks all night, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, whatever you want! Then we would take the bus that is run by the hotel into the strip and have a night out there!
Sights to see:
-Stratesphere hotel and casino: if you go to the top of this there are roller coasters at the top of this building that are terrifying but good fun! You can also do a free-fall harness jump off the side of the building!!
-Any of the main casinos: Venetian, Bellagio, Caesars Palace etc
-The water show outside the Bellagio: This happens about every 15 mins in the night and its a massive water fountain and light show with music on the lake outside the Bellagio, its amazing!
-The Las Vegas sign is a must for good pics!
-The main strip has plenty to see and do so just take a wander and you will love it!
TAKE SUNCREAM AND LOTS OF WATER! The heat is unbelievable here so just be well prepared!
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Such a good vibe here, beautiful pier, lovely beaches, and their seafood restaurants are so good!
LAGUNA BEACH, CALIFORNIA
We loved it here! We found a little beach just up the hill from the main beach. To get to it you have to walk down LOTS of steps! (its just opposite the hospital!) But its like paradise! Really chilled, surfy area with great mexican restaurants, food and nightlife. I could have lived here!
NEWPORT HARBOUR AND MALIBU, CALIFORNIA
Both the same amazing areas as Laguna! We loved visiting these areas and felt so relaxed afterwards! Beaches are beautiful! Surf is awesome!
Sights to see:
-Hollywood walk of fame: The stars on the sidewalk were great to see and to spot our fave celebs!
- Starline Hollywood Tour Bus: This bus was brilliant, it takes you around all the hollywood hills and stops right outside of celebrities houses! Its shows you all the best sights, shops, restaurants and nightlife in Hollywood. You also stop at the very top of the hills for some epic pics and to see the Hollywood sign!
- Madame Tousauds: This was so much fun! They did a deal that if you buy tickets with Starline Tours you get discounted entry to m.Tousauds and discounted food at Hard Rock Cafe next door.
-Hard Rock Cafe: awesome food, and entertainment was amazing, we saw Colbie Caillat, Carolina Liar, and Mat Kearney playing live here whilst we ate our dinner it was brilliant!
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA
This is where Route 66 ends! You can literally see where the old road stops right infront of the pier! And there is a sign that says "End of the Trail", it was an amazing feeling to finally reach there and know we had travelled the whole route!!
We drove to san fran after Santa Monica. Its a gread city with loads of culture, an amazing pier, shops restaurants, nightlife etc. Also Alcatraz is there! You may need to book your tour to Alcatraz a couple of weeks in advance though as it was fully booked when we went and they said it had been 2 weeks prior! crazy! Golden Gate Bridge is great to see too. We took a tour bus to see it, but take warm clothes!! Every day a big fog comes in over san fran and the temperature really drops! We didnt know this and absolutely froze on the tour bus haha!
After San fran we booked an internal flight back to New York and visited Jersey Shore and did more sight seeing of NY. All together, it was incredible and i would really reccommend it!
If anyone has any more questions id be happy to help!
Happy Travelling! :-)