Created in partnership with Enjoy Illinois and the Illinois Obscura Society. 

While popular culture tends to associate Route 66 with the West, its roots are solidly Illinois.

During our adventure, we traversed portions of the “Mother Road” from all time periods. Some sections are still major roads, but others require major detours and even walking. And if you make that effort, you’ll see such highlights as the famed Buckingham Fountain, a portion of highway paved entirely in red brick, the birthplace of the corn dog, and several giant “muffler men.” At last, as the road fades into Missouri, you can cross the unusual and creepy Chain of Rocks Bridge. 

If you choose to duplicate our journey, don’t forget that people are a big part of the experience. Henry at the Ra66it Ranch will delight you with his eccentricities and “rabbits,” and the folks at the many museums along the way will make you glad you stopped for a glimpse at history.

Route 66 is not the fastest way to traverse the state, but it’s the best way to experience a lingering echo of the American Dream.

Sign up to find out more about the back room tours, unusual adventures, and incredible parties that Atlas Obscura will be putting on in Chicago and greater Illinois.