Get at the Heart of Route 66: Start From the Start!
Begin your journey down Route 66 at Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant in Chicago, famous for its donut holes and milk duds. Heading southwest on the Mother Road, you will want to stop at the Berwyn Route 66 Museum to discover an ever-increasing collection of memorabilia and information about the history of Berwyn's Route 66.
Route 66 Wayside Exhibits, which can be found in Berwyn, Countryside, Willowbrook, and Romeoville, tell unique and often surprising tales of the road from the local community. Newly added Experience Hubs, located in Romeoville, Joliet and Wilmington each have a story to tell while you listen to Get your Kicks on Route 66.
Traveling down Route 66 (now designated Route 53) stop at White Fence Farm, home to the “World’s Greatest Chicken”. Take a selfie with the resident chicken at the front door! Next door is Montana Charlie’s Little America Flea Market, an outdoor extravaganza of new and old items, furniture and food; where you may even find some Route 66 collectibles.
For more info on Route 66 and the rest of the I&M Heritage Corridor, stop by the historic Fitzpatrick House at Lewis University, home to the Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau.
While driving south on old Route 66 you will pass by the famous Stateville Penitentiary, Route 66 Park, and be sure to stop for some dairy delights at Rich and Creamy.
Just 45 miles south of Chicago’s loop, Route 66 runs through the City of Joliet, the fourth largest city in Illinois. First up in downtown Joliet is the Route 66 Welcome Center at the Joliet Area Historical Museum! Here visitors can get an authentic and hands-on Route 66 Experience.
Treat yourself to lunch at Joliet Route 66 Diner within walking distance of the Joliet Area Historical Museum complex. Afterward, try your luck at Harrah’s Casino, take a walk along the DesPlaines River in beautiful Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park or stop in the Rialto Square Theatre, a magnificently restored vaudeville theater circa 1926.
Back in your car, drive to the Joliet Prison Park, with informational kiosks highlighting movies and television shows that were filmed at the adjacent Collins Street Prison. Heading south on Route 66 you will see NASCAR’s Chicagoland Speedway, Route 66 Speedway, Abraham Lincoln National Memorial Cemetery and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.
Take your photo with the Gemini Giant, a fiberglass rocket man remnant from the country’s fascination with space travel during the 1960s. The Polk-a-Dot Drive In serves up great food and Route 66-themed fun. Take your photo with Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, The Blues Brothers and Betty Boop.
Another photo opportunity is the historic two-cell jail housed in Gardner standing next to a restored streetcar-turned-diner that fed many hungry Route 66 road warriors on their journey west.
Take your time or hurry up; explore at your own pace in three days or over a week. No matter how you decide to take it all in, this little 75 mile stretch of America’s Main Street in the I&M Canal Heritage Corridor has so much more to see and explore. It’s definitely worth the ride.