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.”

Bloomington-Normal

Hometown of politician Adlai Stevenson (and Col. Henry Blake of TV’s M*A*S*H), Bloomington-Normal sits at the middle of Illinois, surrounded by five different Interstate freeways and miles of cornfields. Its main claim to fame is in being the only place in the world where that classic bar snack, Beer Nuts, is made; for a free sample (but no tour, alas), stop by the factory (103 N. Robinson St., 800/BEER-NUTS or 309/827-8580 ext. 324).

The “Twin Cities” are also the corporate home of insurance company State Farm and birthplace of another all-American icon, the Midwest-based burger chain Steak ’n Shake, which started here in 1934. Good food is available downtown at Lucca Grill (116 E. Market St., 309/828-7521), which has been serving pizza and pasta dishes since the 1930s.

Beer Nuts Factory (103 N. Robinson St.)
Lucca Grill (116 East Market St.)