Route 66: 12 of the Coolest Stops to Make in Arizona

A drive across Arizona is a road trip lover’s dream. Here’s where to stop to get your kicks on Route 66.

Photo By: iStock / Steven Kriemadis

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Erin Gifford

Oatman

The small town of Oatman is known for the wild burros that roam the streets. Thought to be descendants of burros used by miners in the late-1800s, burros have been wandering the streets of this wild west town ever since and are even so tame that they can be hand fed. You can purchase carrots and pellets at many of the shops across town. Just before sunset, the burros like to head back to the hills, only to return the next day to meander about the town.

Mohave Museum & Arizona Route 66 Museum

In Kingman, make your first stop at the Mohave Museum, if only to check out the historic mural painted on the side of the building, which depicts the evolution of Historic Route 66 from a passage for stagecoaches, trains and cars. On the next block, explore the Arizona Route 66 Museum (one ticket includes entry to both museums), which tells the story of Route 66 through photographs, artifacts and a one-hour movie. On the ground floor, look for an Electric Car Museum.

Giganticus Headicus

It’s hard not to love a 14-foot Easter Island-style tiki head that warmly greets visitors along Historic Route 66. You’ll find it at the Antares Visitor Center between Kingman and Seligman. Once a marker for the now-defunct Kozy Corner Trailer Court, Giganticus Headicus today sits in front of a gift shop and visitor center, though the owner does hope to renovate several motel rooms for use in the future. Go inside and pick up a miniature of Giganticus Headicus before you continue your travels along Route 66.

Hackberry General Store

As you continue along Route 66, make a stop at Hackberry General Store near Kingman to stock up on all the Mother Road souvenirs you could ever desire, from magnets to t-shirts to beer bottle openers. You’ll also find loads of historic signs and memorabilia. Out front, rusted old-time gas pumps, neon signs and very old cars greet visitors upon arrival. It’s practically a museum on its own and a must-stop for any diehard Route 66 fan.

Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In

Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman has long been a classic landmark along Route 66 that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Built in 1953 from scrap lumber, you’ll enter and exit through doors with two door knobs (one is there to fool you). When you order, you may find yourself with a soda and a piece of hay (as in, the wrong kind of straw). The same goes for drink sizes. Ask for a small and you’ll be presented with a medicine cup-sized drink.

Grand Canyon Railway

For those eager to skip the lines at the entrance gate to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, the Grand Canyon Railway is a fantastic option. Get your tickets punched in Williams, just steps from Route 66, and board a restored streamliner-era train bound for Grand Canyon Village where you’ll disembark in front of the historic El Tovar Hotel. The journey by train takes just over two hours, but you’ll be so distracted by the majestic scenery, as well as cowboys, shoot-outs, and sing-alongs, that you may not notice.

Bearizona

Just a few miles from the historic district of Williams is Bearizona, a drive-thru wildlife park with black bears, mule deer, bighorn sheep and bison. Grab a seat on the Wild Ride Bus, which departs four times daily for a guide-narrated driving tour of the park. There’s also a petting zoo and a walk-through area, so you can get up close with goats and sheep. Keeper chats take place throughout the day and a new sit-down restaurant, Canyonlands, serves up fresh salads, burgers and sandwiches, even a Chicken Bacon Mac. Yum.

Lowell Observatory

Located in Flagstaff, Lowell Observatory’s claim to fame is the discovery of Pluto in 1930. Listen to the story of Pluto — even see the telescope used to discover this dwarf planet — as part of a guided walking tour offered twice-daily. Kids will love the opportunity to (safely) look directly at the sun as part of a solar program. They can also complete an activity booklet to earn a "Junior Astronomer" patch. In the evening, enjoy a 30-minute guided tour of the night sky, or simply take turns looking for planets and stars through high-powered telescopes.

Meteor Crater

As you depart Flagstaff and continue east along Historic Route 66 (I-40), keep your eyes open for the exit for Meteor Crater. Only a few miles off the interstate, Meteor Crater has a history that involves miners, geologists, even astronauts who came to study the impact site. This well-preserved crater was created 50,000 years ago when a meteor crashed into the earth at 26,000 miles per hour. Watch the 10-minute film in the visitors center, then join a one-hour guided tour along the rim.

Standin’ on the Corner Park

Just as the lyrics to the 1972 hit "Take It Easy" by The Eagles go, you will, in fact, be "...standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona..." at Standin’ on the Corner Park. This small park (less than a block) sits right on Route 66 at N Kingsley Ave in Winslow, which up until the 1960’s was the largest town in northern Arizona. Pose in front of the mural or snap a photo of the life-size bronze statue of Glenn Frey of The Eagles, which was installed in late-2016.

Wigwam Motel

Considered the inspiration behind the Cozy Cone Motel from the animated Cars movie franchise, the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook is just one of three remaining motels in the chain, which once numbered seven. The other two are in San Bernardino, California and Cave City, Kentucky. Built in 1950, Holbrook’s Wigwam Motel includes 15 wigwams, which can sleep up to four guests and have a private bathroom and a flat-screen TV (but no WiFi). Vintage automobiles that date back to the motel’s construction are scattered throughout the parking lot.

Petrified Forest National Park

Just a short drive from Holbrook is Petrified Forest National Park. In fact, Route 66 goes right through the park, making it a no-brainer to stop and explore this spectacular natural wonder. Start at the Painted Desert Visitor Center just north of Route 66, then drive along the 28-mile road through the park. The Painted Desert Rim Trail is an easy one-mile hike boasting colorful views of the desert landscape. For petrified wood, try the 0.4-mile Giant Logs Trail just behind the Rainbow Forest Museum inside the park.

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