Route 66 in Illinois – The TOP 5 BEST Stops – What to Visit/See Along Mother Road in IL?

Best Illinois Attractions! Route 66 best stops, list.

What to visit on Route 66 in Illinois? You may be wondering, “What are the best places along Mother Road in Illinois?”, “What are the best attractions to see in Illinois, IL on Route 66?”.

Today I will show you my list of best stops on Route 66 in Illinois. These are my top 5 stops in the order they appear on Mother Road in Illinois, IL, each with name, mileage, detailed description, helpful tidbits, address, and GPS coordinates. Remember that more of them, you can find in my travel guide about Route 66: “Route 66 Travel Guide – 202 Amazing Places”. Are you ready to see my top five choices?

Best Route 66 attractions in Illinois.

Route 66 is one of the most famous highways in the United States, and it runs through the state of Illinois for about 285 miles. The section of Route 66 in Illinois starts in Chicago, and it passes through several small towns and cities, including Joliet, Springfield, and Litchfield, before ending at the border of Missouri.

Driving Route 66 in Illinois is a great way to experience the history and culture of the state, and visitors can also enjoy the scenic views and small-town charm of the communities along the route. It’s always best to check for road closures and detours before taking this trip, and also to plan ahead for lodging and meals as some towns are not as developed as other regions.

1. Historic Route 66 Begin Sign

ROUTE 66 : 0 MI / 0 KM Chicago, ILLINOIS
GPS: 41.879604, -87.624611
ADDRESS: 78-98 E Adams St, Chicago, IL 60603

Route 66 in Illinois - What to see? Best places for a great stop in IL!

If you’re starting your Route 66 adventure in Illinois, be sure to make your first stop at the iconic Historic Route 66 Sign. Located at the corner of Adams Street and Michigan Avenue in Chicago, this sign marks the beginning of the legendary highway that stretches all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

The sign is a replica of the original marker that was erected in 1926 when Route 66 was officially established. As you stand before the sign, you’ll feel a sense of awe knowing that you’re embarking on a journey that has captured the hearts and imaginations of countless travelers over the years.

The Historic Route 66 Sign is more than just a symbol of a bygone era; it’s a testament to the enduring spirit of American adventure. Whether you’re a history buff or a road-trip enthusiast, this sign is a must-see destination on your journey through Illinois and beyond. So hit the road, and let the adventure begin!

2. Gemini Giant

ROUTE 66 : 60 MI / 97 KM Wilmington, ILLINOIS
GPS: 41.310388, -88.13874
ADDRESS: 810 E Baltimore St, Wilmington, IL 60481

What to see on Route 66 in Illinois. Where to stop to make your journey amazing. Gemini Giant is a great option!

Another must-see place in Illinois on Route 66.

One of the most unique and unforgettable stops along Route 66 in Illinois is the Gemini Giant, a towering 30-foot statue of an astronaut located in Wilmington. Originally erected in the 1960s as a promotional tool for a nearby drive-in restaurant, the Gemini Giant has since become an iconic symbol of the Mother Road.

As you stand before this massive fiberglass statue, you’ll be transported back in time to the heyday of Route 66, when roadside attractions like the Gemini Giant were a common sight along the highway. The statue is one of the most well-preserved examples of the “Muffler Men” statues that were popular during the 1960s and 1970s, and it’s easy to see why it has become a beloved landmark of the route.

Whether you’re a history buff, a lover of kitsch, or simply looking for a unique photo opportunity, the Gemini Giant is a must-see destination on your Route 66 adventure. So be sure to add it to your list of stops, and prepare to be awed by this towering icon of American roadside culture.

3. Bob Waldmire Road Yacht

ROUTE 66 : 99 MI / 159 KM Pontiac, ILLINOIS
GPS: 40.880855, -88.628964
ADDRESS: 321 N Main St, Pontiac, IL 61764

Best stops on Route 66 in Illinois, IL. Where to stop and what is the must-see place?

The next must-visit attraction on Route 66 in Illinois is Road Yacht.

Bob Waldmire was a talented artist and illustrator who gained fame for his captivating depictions of Route 66, an iconic highway that stretches across the United States. His unique style of art captured the spirit of the open road and the essence of the American Southwest.

One of Waldmire’s most notable creations was his “Road Yacht,” a customized school bus that he transformed into a mobile home and studio. The Road Yacht was adorned with his distinctive artwork and quickly became a beloved attraction for tourists traveling along Route 66. Waldmire often used the bus as a canvas for his murals, creating vibrant and intricate designs that captured the imagination of those who saw them.

As he journeyed across the country in his beloved Road Yacht, Waldmire became an ambassador for Route 66, promoting the highway and its unique culture wherever he went. His passion for the open road and his dedication to his craft inspired countless people to explore the beauty and diversity of the American landscape.

Despite his passing in 2009, Waldmire’s legacy lives on through his art and his impact on the Route 66 community. His Road Yacht remains a cherished symbol of his adventurous spirit and his unwavering commitment to following his dreams.

4. Cozy Dog Drive In

GPS: 39.762376, -89.648797
ADDRESS: 2935 So. Sixth Street, Springfield, IL 6270

Must-stop places on Route 66 map. What to see in Illinois? This is the best IL Mother Road spots.

Make sure to add Cozy Dog Drive In to your list of must-visit destinations along Route 66 in Illinois! This classic restaurant, located in Springfield, is renowned for its famous “Cozy Dog” – a hot dog that is deep-fried and coated in cornmeal, creating a uniquely delicious taste sensation. The Cozy Dog has been a favorite of locals and travelers alike since it was first introduced at the restaurant in 1949.

Founded by Ed Waldmire Jr, son of Bob Waldmire, Cozy Dog Drive In has become a beloved Route 66 landmark that attracts visitors from all over the world. Although the Cozy Dog is the star of the menu, the restaurant also offers a range of other delectable dishes that are sure to satisfy your hunger cravings.”

“Don’t miss out on the opportunity to stop by Cozy Dog Drive In during your Illinois Route 66 adventure! This iconic eatery in Springfield is famous for its signature “Cozy Dog” – a hot dog coated in cornmeal and deep-fried to perfection. Created by Ed Waldmire Jr in 1949, this classic dish has been satisfying taste buds for decades.

Hungry? Check my other post about the best restaurants: Route 66 – The 10 BEST TOP Restaurants & Diners along Mother Road – Where to eat?

5. Soulsby Service Station

ROUTE 66 : 253 MI / 407 KM Mount Olive, ILLINOIS
GPS: 39.071119, -89.735412
ADDRESS: 710 West 1st South Street, Mt Olive, IL 62069

Best stops in Illinois part of Route 66. Get ready and check my list before you go! Mother Road in IL is waiting for you!

Make sure to add Soulsby Service Station to your list of must-see attractions on Route 66 in Illinois! This historic service station, located in Mount Olive, was built in the 1930s and operated for several decades under the ownership of Clifford and Ethel Soulsby. In the late 1970s, the station closed down and sat vacant for several years.

Fortunately, in the 1980s, the building was repurposed as a museum dedicated to the history of Route 66 and the Soulsby family. Today, the Soulsby Service Station is a beloved Route 66 landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibits on Route 66 history, as well as admire vintage cars and other memorabilia from the era.

👍 Find out more:

Route 66 travel guide Illinois

Discover the best stops along the Mother Road in my travel guide, “Route 66 Travel Guide – 202 Amazing Places”, which is available on Amazon. This is the ultimate travel guide and pocket reference for anyone wishing to experience the nostalgia and wonder of America’s Route 66! MUST-HAVE for all Route 66 travelers. Visit 202 places on Route 66 with “Scan QR and go” for easy navigation.


Traveling on Route 66

Mark Watson is a California-based member of a Los Angeles Motorcycle Club and a keen traveler. He’s traveled the entirety of U. S. Route 66 seven times on his Harley-Davidson. He strives to interest others in the historic drive to keep the legendary Route 66 alive. He also traveled through the Alaska Highway. He is an author of bestseller books on Amazon: “Route 66 Travel Guide – 202 Amazing Places” and “Alaska Highway – 202 Best Stops”.

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