Best Drives to Take Your Top Off

Travel is about the journey, not the destination -- especially when you’re cruising along America’s most picturesque roads in a convertible. Fill ’er up, drop the top and let’s hit the road!

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Bold, twin arrows mark the exit for this abandoned gas station on Route 66. 960 1280

  

Gemini Giant

Gemini Giant

Gemini Giant stands at the Launching Pad Drive-In in Wilmington, IL. The Giant is one of the "Muffler Men" made by International Fiberglass. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Polka Dot Drive In Figures

Polka Dot Drive In Figures

Just down the road in Braidwood, IL, is the Polka Dot Drive-In. Here you'll find these famous figures -- Elvis, Marilyn, James Dean and Betty Boop. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Shea's Marathon Museum

Shea's Marathon Museum

Shea's Marathon in Springfield, IL has become a museum of gas station and automobile memorabilia. The owner, Bill Shea, spent his career in the gasoline business. He is now retired and runs the museum. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Cozy Drive In

Cozy Drive In

Home of the famous "Cozy Dog" (aka corn dog), this restaurant in Springfield, IL, has a rich history on the route. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Wagon Wheel Motel

Wagon Wheel Motel

The Wagon Wheel Motel, in Cuba, MO, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1935, the cafe and cabins have a long history. Now owned by Connie Echols, the motel was recently renovated being careful to preserve its unique features. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

66 Drive-In Theatre

66 Drive-In Theatre

In Carthage, MO, you'll find the 66 Drive-In Theater. You get 2 movies for the price of 1. There is a concession stand and consumers are encouraged to sit outside their cars (not on top!) to enjoy the film. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

An arched bridge spans a small creek along Historic Route 66 outside Baxter Springs, KS. 960 1280

  

Eisler Brother's Market

Eisler Brother's Market

Eisler Brother's Market in Riverton, KS, has lots of Route 66 memorabilia, as well as the typical things you would find in a market. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Tow Tater at the Four Women on the Route Gas Station and Grill

Tow Tater at the Four Women on the Route Gas Station and Grill

Tow Tater sits outside of the Four Women on the Route Kan-O-Tex service station and grill in Galena, KS. He was the inspiration for the Tow Mater character in the Disney Cars movies. 960 1280

Marcin Wichary on Flickr  

Blue Whale in Catoosa

Blue Whale in Catoosa

The Blue Whale in Catoosa, OK, has an interesting history. Built by Hugh Davis as part of the waterpark on his property, he gave it to his wife Zelta on their anniversary. Their kids kept asking for something to jump off and this waterfront structure provided just the means. The whale and grounds were restored in 2002 and have become a major attraction on Route 66. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Large Soda Bottle in front of pops

Large Soda Bottle in front of pops

This large soda bottle stands 66 feet tall and weighs more than 4 tons. It towers over a futuristic building in Arcadia, OK, which is home to POPS restaurant, soda ranch and shake shop. 960 1280

Pops  

Braum's Milk Bottle

Braum's Milk Bottle

The Braum's Milk Bottle, in Oklahoma City, is taller than the building (a bakery) on which it stands. The bottle originally advertised for Townley Dairy. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

On Route 66, west of Clinton, OK is this interesting automobile art. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Kachina doll outside the National Route 66 Museum

Kachina doll outside the National Route 66 Museum

Meet Myrtle, a Kachina doll that stands outside the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, OK. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, TX

U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, TX

The Tower Station and U-Drop Inn were once a gas station and restaurant that served travelers in Shamrock, TX, on Route 66. Today it has been restored and acts as the Chamber of Commerce and tourism office. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Leaning Water Tower of Britten

Leaning Water Tower of Britten

When driving in Groom, TX, you'll find the "Leaning Water Tower of Britten." It appears in the animations seen between visits on the PBS show Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo Texas

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo Texas

In 1974, Stanley Marsh 3 and San Francisco artists, who called themselves Ant Farm, created this Cadillac graveyard to baffle the locals in Amarillo, TX. The 10 cars are supposedly buried at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza. Over the years visitors have added their special touch to the cars. 960 1280

Ken Koehler   

Tee Pee Curios in New Mexico

Tee Pee Curios in New Mexico

In Tucumcari, NM, is the Tee Pee Curios store. The concrete wigwam is fused onto a building where they sell souvenirs along Route 66. 960 1280

Ken Koehler   

Blue Swallow Motel

Blue Swallow Motel

Across the street from the Tee Pee is the Blue Swallow Motel. It was bought by its current owners in early 2011 and is being renovated with the goal of keeping the historic aspects, such as the garages for cars. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Few experiences match the magic of dawn at Monument Valley. 960 1280

  

Route 66 winding its way through Arizona. 960 1280

Creative Commons  

Wigwam Motel

Wigwam Motel

In the late 1930s, Chester E. Lewis had several motels on Route 66 and decided he wanted to add a wigwam village. An architect, Frank Redford, who patented the wigwam villages design, struck a deal that allowed Lewis to build one of his own in Holbrook, AZ. Today the Wigwam Village Motel #6 is one of the few such motels left. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Jack Rabbit Trading Post

Jack Rabbit Trading Post

The Jack Rabbit Trading Post in Joseph City, AZ, cannot be missed with its famous "Here It Is" sign. The trading post sells Route 66 souvenirs along with Indian arts and crafts. There is also a wide selection of Jack Rabbit goodies. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

The Museum Club

The Museum Club

The Museum Club in Flagstaff, AZ is a bar with karaoke nights and live music. This large log cabin didn't start out as a bar. Built by taxidermist Dean Eldredge in 1931, "the Zoo" was a museum for him to show off his stuffed friends, Winchester rifles, Indian artifacts and more than 30,000 other items. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

Dinosaur on Route 66

Dinosaur on Route 66

A dinosaur seen along Route 66 in Arizona. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

The Desert Market

The Desert Market

The Desert Market is a historic building in Daggett, CA. A variety of people have owned the market. It was destroyed in a fire in 1908 and rebuilt. The store was a place where miners converted their gold dust into "spendable" currency. In 1953, the store was robbed and more than $1,000 of gold nuggets were taken. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

El Rancho Coffee Shop and Motel

El Rancho Coffee Shop and Motel

The El Rancho Coffee Shop and Motel in Barstow, CA. 960 1280

Ken Koehler  

The World's Largest Rocker

The World's Largest Rocker

This 46-foot-tall wood and steel rocking chair stands outside of the Fanning US 66 Outpost & General Store in Cuba, MO. It was the creation of the store's owner Dan Sanazaro as a way to attract more business. 960 1280

Serge Melki on Flickr  

A flat, sweeping stretch of old Route 66 near Amboy, CA. 960 1280

  

An abandoned motel sign along Route 66 in California gives a haunted air to this stretch of highway. 960 1280

  

Near the western end of Route 66 is the neon sign marking the Santa Monica Pier in California. 960 1280

  

Highway 29
Highway 29

Highway 29

Take California State Route 29 to see some of the region’s best vineyards and wineries. Through Napa Valley, Highway 29 passes through Calistoga, St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville and Napa. 960 1280

Tom Bridge, Flickr  

Silverado Trail

Silverado Trail

Hit the road early to capture the serene vineyards along the Silverado Trail, a scenic route along the eastern edge of Napa Valley. Most locals suggest taking this route to avoid traffic on California State Route 29, which runs parallel to the Trail. 960 1280

seligmanwaite, Flickr  

Wine Country

Wine Country

Northern California's wine country beckons visitors with hundreds of wineries spread across 3 counties. 960 1280

  

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa Winery is located near Calistoga, CA. The 121,000-square-foot medieval replica castle includes 107 rooms and 8 levels above and below ground. Among its many features, it has a moat, drawbridge, defensive towers, interior courtyard, chapel, torture chamber and a great hall. Visitors to the vineyard can sample the wines sold at the castle. 960 1280

Jim G., Flickr  

Cabernet

Cabernet

Northern California's climate is ideal for growing grapes like these ripe ones used to make a fine cabernet. 960 1280

  

Beringer Rhine House

Beringer Rhine House

Make a stop at the Beringer Rhine House -- Napa Valley’s oldest continuously operating winery. Enjoy the award-winning wines, rich history and beautifully landscaped grounds. 960 1280

Chuck O'Rear  

California Wine

California Wine

The best way to appreciate Northern California's wine country is to sample the goods along the way. 960 1280

  

Old Faithful Geyser of California

Old Faithful Geyser of California

While you’re on your road trip, we suggestion stopping by the Old Faithful Geyser of California, located in Calistoga, CA. It’s just one of many roadside attractions you’ll see along the way. 960 1280

Kunal Mukherjee, flickr  

Picturesque Vineyards

Picturesque Vineyards

Bring along a camera for photo opportunities in the acres of rolling vineyards in Napa and Sonoma. 960 1280

  

Staglin Family Vineyard

Staglin Family Vineyard

The Staglin Family Vineyard, a family-owned Napa Valley winery in Rutherford, CA, produces a variety of wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sangiovese and a Bordeaux-style blend. Take a guided tour of the winery, and then at the end of the tour, experience an intimate tasting of Cabernet Sauvignons produced on the estate. 960 1280

Kopol Bonick Studio  

Wine Production

Wine Production

These terraced vineyards in Sonoma rely on biodynamic agricultural techniques to produce local wine. 960 1280

  

Oxbow Public Market

Oxbow Public Market

Go local! Visit the Oxbow Public Market in Napa Valley to sample the local community’s best, including fresh food, wine and cheese. Take Highway 29 to the city of Napa; take the 1st Street Exit (bear right to head east); and look for signs marked ‘Oxbow Public Market’. 960 1280

Oxbow Public Market  

Merlot

Merlot

Ripe for the picking, these grapes will be used to make merlot. 960 1280

  

Sterling Vineyard

Sterling Vineyard

Several vineyards, including the Sterling Vineyard (pictured) in Calistoga, CA, are fun getaways for tourists. See picturesque views from their aerial tram. Guests can also travel the grounds by foot. And with a glass of wine in hand, stroll through art galleries and elevated walkways that allow visitors to see the winemaking process from grape to glass. 960 1280

Jim G., Flickr  

Years of Preparation

Years of Preparation

These vines in Sonoma have been used for growing grapes for nearly 90 years. 960 1280

  

Di Rosa Preserve

Di Rosa Preserve

While you’re on the road, we suggest you visit the Di Rosa Preserve, a 35-acre lake and wildlife. The area is not only rich in an array of flora, fauna and wildlife, but it’s also the canvas to display a broad range of art created by Bay Area artists. Art aficionados can walk the grounds to see art work in the Main Gallery, Gatehouse Gallery, Historic Residence, Courtyard, North Lawn and Sculpture Meadow. It’s an art lover’s paradise. 960 1280

collectmoments, Flickr  

The Grapes

The Grapes

These grapes may become a bottle of your favorite California wine, but you'll have to wait a few years to try it. 960 1280

  

Downtown Napa

Downtown Napa

If wine tasting and tours isn’t you’re thing, then make a pit stop in Downtown Napa. The area has dozens of shops, dessert cafes, bars, restaurants and spas. Hotels and B&Bs are available in the area. It’s a perfect home-base location for visitors to explore nearby vineyards and mix with the locals. 960 1280

Napa Downtown Association  

Mud Bath

Mud Bath

Unwind and relax with a mud bath at one of several spas located in Napa Valley, including Meadowood, Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs, Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa, Calistoga Spa Hot Springs, Indian Springs Resort and Roman Spa Motel. 960 1280

Getty Images  


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