Route 66

If you’re looking for great displays of neon signs, mom-and-pop motels in the middle of nowhere, or kitschy Americana, do as the song says and “get your kicks on Route 66.”

Seligman

From I-40 exit 139, just west of Ash Fork, a very nice section of the old Route 66 two-lane runs along the railroad tracks just north of, and parallel to, the I-40 freeway all the way to the sleep little town of Seligman. One of best places to stop and get a feel for the spirit of old Route 66, Seligman (pop. 510; pronounced “SLIG-man”) is a perfect place to take a break before or after rejoining the Interstate hordes. The town retains a lot of its historic character—old sidewalk awnings and even a few hitching rails—and offers lots of reasons to stop. Coming into Seligman on this stretch of Route 66, you’ll be greeted by The Rusty Bolt (115 Route 66, 928/422-0106), a fantastic junk shop and oddball emporium that’s impossible to miss along the north side of the old highway. A pilgrimage point for old-roads fans for decades, Angel Delgadillo’s barber shop now hosts the Route 66 Gift Shop and Museum (217 E. Route 66). Angel’s brother, Juan Delgadillo, created and ran the wacky Snow Cap Drive-In (301 E. Route 66, 928/422-3291) a half block to the east, where the sign says “Sorry, We’re Open,” and the menu advertises “Hamburgers without Ham.” Behind the restaurant, in snow, rain, or shine, sits a roofless old Chevy decorated with fake flowers and an artificial Christmas tree. Juan’s family carries on the Snow Cap traditions. The burgers, fries, and milk shakes (not to mention the jokes!) are worth driving miles for.

Another very good place to eat is the kitschy Road Kill Café (502 W. Route 66, 928/422-3554) near the OK Saloon and Rusty Bolt junk shop. Find German-American barbecue at Westside Lilo’s Cafe (415 W. Route 66, 928/422-5456); good coffee served behind the bright-green facade of Seligman Sundries, a half mile farther west; and the cold beer typically downed by cowboys and truckers across the road at the Black Cat Bar.

For an overnight, choose from a half dozen motels like the nice, clean, and friendly Historic Route 66 Motel (22750 W. Route 66, 928/422-3204, $75 and up).

The longest and probably the most evocative stretch of old Route 66 runs between Seligman and Kingman through the high-desert Hualapai Reservation (pronounced “WALL-ah-pie”), along the Santa Fe Railroad tracks through all-but-abandoned towns bypassed by the “modern” Interstate world. Save the stretch between here and Needles for daytime, as it’s one of the most memorable of the Mother Road’s whole cross-country haul.

The Rusty Bolt (115 Route 66)
Route 66 Gift Shop and Museum (217 E. Route 66)
Snow Cap Drive In (301 E. Route 66)
Road Kill Café (502 W. Route 66)
Westside Lilo’s Cafe (415 W. Route 66)
Historic Route 66 Motel (22750 W. Route 66)