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.”

Lincoln

The only town named for Honest Abe in his lifetime, Lincoln (pop. 14,504) took his name before he became a famous figure.

As a young lawyer, Abraham Lincoln drew up the legal documents for founding the town but warned developers that he “never knew of anything named Lincoln that amounted to much.” At the dedication ceremonies, Lincoln supposedly “baptized” the place by spitting out a mouthful of watermelon seeds—hence the plaster watermelon and historical plaque remembering the great event, next to the Amtrak-serviced train station at Broadway and Chicago Streets in the center of town.

Lincoln was also home to Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes (1902-1967), who was elected Class Poet while in the 8th grade here.