Follow legendary Route 66 and see how Americans traveled from the 1920s thru the 1960s. Also known as the “Mother Road,” this historic route begins in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles. Now a preserved piece of history, its original purpose was to connect rural and urban communities to main streets, providing freedom of travel. On this vacation, you’ll get the opportunity to travel to some of the cities along Route 66. Start your trip in Chicago and stop in Springfield, St. Louis, Branson, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. A few of the many highlights along the way include the Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum in Pontiac, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, the Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa, the Route 66 Mother Road Museum, and various Route 66 icons. The tour also deviates from Route 66, so you can see breathtaking scenery at the Grand Canyon and experience the excitement of Las Vegas. On these special departures, you will also get the chance to experience the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Stand in awe as you experience the morning’s pre-dawn opening ceremonies and the unforgettable Mass Ascension, where hundreds of hot air balloons take off, turning the sky into a virtual rainbow of colors.
Day #1 Chicago. Welcome to the start of famous Route 66! Enjoy time at leisure to relax or to do some independent exploring. Your Tour Director is on hand this evening to answer any questions.
Day #2 Chicago. Known as the “Windy City,” Chicago is home to America’s tallest building, legends such as Al Capone and his notorious gang, and, of course, countless jazz and blues clubs. Experience this exciting city on a morning sightseeing tour. This afternoon is at leisure. Ride the elevator to the top of the Sears Tower, explore The Magnificent Mile with 460 stores in eight city blocks, or stroll along Navy Pier. Tonight, join an optional Gangster Tour.
Day #3 Chicago–Pontiac–Springfield. This morning, immerse yourself in Route 66 memorabilia. Visit the ROUTE 66 HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM in Pontiac, housed in a historic fire station. See the large maps that will sketch out your Route 66 adventure for the coming days, and enjoy the nostalgic photos and postcards from the “Mother Road’s” heyday. Outside the museum, enjoy some of the outdoor murals depicting Route 66 themes scattered throughout the town center. On to Springfield and the former home of President Abraham Lincoln. Visit his home and the ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL MUSEUM.
Day #4 Springfield–St. Louis. This morning we cross the mighty Mississippi River and continue to St. Louis, “Gateway to the West.” Your orientation tour includes the towering GATEWAY ARCH. Ride to the top of the 630-foot-tall Arch for a panoramic view of the city and river. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Tonight, why not enjoy some famous St. Louis barbecue?
Day #5 St. Louis–Branson. Today we travel through the Missouri countryside. Then, on to Branson, one of America’s biggest music centers. Join us this evening for our optional evening and enjoy an award-winning buffet dinner and one of Branson’s top shows. Your Tour Director will have further details. (CB)
Day #6 Branson–Oklahoma City. This morning, leave the Ozarks and travel through America’s “Bible Belt” into Cowboy Country. After a quick drive through Kansas, enter Oklahoma, once known as Indian Territory. Stopover in Claremore to visit the WILL ROGERS MEMORIAL MUSEUM. Born on a sprawling frontier ranch in Oklahoma, Will Rogers was an Indian, a cowboy, a movie and Broadway star, a writer, a speaker, a comedian, and a world figure. View his collection of saddles, photos, and manuscripts that reflect on his incredible life. Later today, arrive in Oklahoma City. (CB)
Day #7 Oklahoma City–Amarillo. A city tour this morning includes the NATIONAL COWBOY HALL OF FAME & WESTERN HERITAGE MUSEUM, a national memorial to the American cowboy. See exhibits that include Native Americans, the American cowboy, rodeo, and more. A “must-see” is Prosperity Junction, a recreated Western town. From here, travel to Clinton, Oklahoma, where you’ll visit the OKLAHOMA ROUTE 66 MUSEUM, home to vintage cars, neon signs, a ‘50s diner, and drive-in theater. Continue through the rolling hill country into Texas and on to Amarillo, the state’s oil capital. Get into the Lone Star spirit tonight with our optional dinner of juicy Texas steak, served with heaps of Wild West atmosphere. (CB)
Day #8 Amarillo–Tucumcari–Santa Rosa–Albuquerque. On the way out of Amarillo, see Cadillac Ranch, a quirky art sculpture consisting of a collection of 10 Cadillacs. Before crossing into New Mexico, reach Adrian, the halfway point on Route 66. Next, stop in Tucumcari to hear the ancient Indian fable of how the city received its name, shop for souvenirs at Tepee Curios, and see the neon signs of the Blue Swallow Motel that has been serving travelers of Route 66 since 1939. Continue along old Route 66 west to Santa Rosa. Look for the signs of the good ol’ days: Comet Drive-In, Silver Moon, Sun and Sand, and the still-grinning faces of Fat Man billboards outside of town. Visit the ROUTE 66 AUTO MUSEUM to see memorabilia and cars of the era. Upon arrival in Albuquerque, an included guided walking tour features Albuquerque’s Old Town, site of the city’s original settlement. Next, visit Central Avenue, where many of the original Route 66 buildings and businesses still stand. (CB)
Day #9 Albuquerque. This morning stand in awe as you experience the pre-dawn opening ceremonies and the unforgettable Mass Ascension where hundreds of hot air balloons take off, turning the sky into a virtual rainbow of colors. What began as a gathering of thirteen balloons 35 years ago has since turned into the largest ballooning event in the world. This afternoon is at leisure for independent exploring of Albuquerque. Consider a short walk to Old Town, site of the city’s original settlement. Hone your bargaining skills with the local craftsmen who line the square to sell their lovely silver and turquoise jewelry. Visit the renowned Albuquerque Museum of Art & History that features Southwestern art and 400 years of Albuquerque history. This evening return to the Balloon Fiesta to catch the popular BALLOON GLOW, where all balloons fire up their burners and light up at the same time, and AFTER-GLOW FIREWOARKS SHOW this evening.
Day #10 Albuquerque–Gallup–Holbrook–Winslow–Flagstaff. This morning, visit ACOMA SKY CITY, home of the Pueblo Indians, situated on 357-foot-high sandstone rock. It is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited village in the United States. Learn about this city and its inhabitants, and peruse Acoma pottery and jewelry. Then, cross the Continental Divide and continue to Gallup, which claims a longtime Hollywood connection. From Redskin, filmed in 1929, to the more recent Adventures of Superman, the area has provided unequaled movie scenery. Tonight is in Flagstaff, nestled at the base of the San Francisco Mountains.
Day #11 Flagstaff–Grand Canyon National Park. Deviate from Route 66 to see one of the Natural Wonders of the World, the GRAND CANYON. Wander along the canyon rim and experience breathtaking views. Perhaps join the optional helicopter “flightseeing” tour. Tonight you stay inside Grand Canyon National Park. (CB)
Day #12 Grand Canyon National Park–Williams–Seligman–Las Vegas. Return to Route 66 and pass through historic Williams, which is listed in the National Register for Historic Places. Make sure to appreciate the neon signs of the intact circa 1940s “Motel Row.” Later today, visit Seligman, home to the rebirth of Route 66. Detour once again from Route 66 to visit the bright lights and excitement of Las Vegas.
Day #13 Las Vegas. Enjoy a day at leisure. Relax by the pool or explore the world-renowned Las Vegas Strip. Ride the world’s highest rollercoaster, float through a Venice canal, or see man-eating sharks up close—it’s all possible in Las Vegas. Don’t miss downtown Las Vegas, where you’ll find the Fremont Street Experience, five city blocks enclosed in a glass atrium and filled with dazzling lights, sounds, and action. A variety of optional excursions are available, including a float trip through dramatic Black Canyon on the Colorado River. In the evening, join an optional night out at a dazzling show featuring top Vegas entertainment.
Day #14 Las Vegas–Los Angeles. Today, depart the man-made phenomenon of Las Vegas and cross the Mojave Desert and the San Bernardino Mountains en route to Los Angeles. Time to stop in Barstow to visit the ROUTE 66 MOTHER ROAD MUSEUM, which displays a collection of historic photographs and artifacts related to Route 66 and the Mojave Desert communities. Continue on to Los Angeles, the “Capital of Glamour.” Join us tonight for an optional farewell dinner celebrating your journey along “America’s Main Street.”
Day #15 Los Angeles. The trip ends today with guests departing on individual schedules. Transfers to Los Angeles international Airport are included. You can extend your vacation with extra nights and explore Los Angeles further with a variety of exciting optional activities.