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.”

Chandler and Warwick

West of Stroud, as for most of the way between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, old Route 66 continues along the south side of the I-44 Turnpike, which has another of its very rare exits at Chandler (pop. 3,100). Chandler is one of the most pleasant old Route 66 towns in Oklahoma, with a wealth of well-preserved sandstone-and-brick buildings, a trio of which house an enjoyable local history center. It stands out for a number of good reasons, not least of which is the classic Lincoln Motel (740 E. 1st St., 405/258-0200, $55), along old Route 66 at the east edge of town. It’s a little time-worn, for sure, but still as neat and tidy as the day it opened in 1939 with two dozen two-room cabins, each with a green bench for watching the world whiz by. Chandler’s solid-looking WPA-era Armory has been done up to house the lively and engaging Route 66 Interpretive Center (400 E. Route 66/1st St., 405/258-1300, closed Sun. in winter and Mon. year-round, $5), which gives an eye-opening introduction to the enterprising and welcoming Route 66 spirit. There’s a public swimming pool (summer only), a gallery run by Route 66 artist Jerry McClanahan (903/467-6384, appt. only), and a well-restored cottage-style Phillips 66 station.

Heading west toward Oklahoma City, old Route 66 continues along the south side of I-44, passing a metal-roofed barn emblazoned with a photogenic “Meramec Caverns—Stanton MO” sign west of Chandler and crossing under the freeway about three miles west of Warwick. From here, one of the state’s best surviving stretches of Route 66, known locally as the “free road,” runs for over 30 miles along “the north side of the turnpike, passing by horse and cattle ranches as it rolls across the red earth.

On old Route 66, about seven miles west of Chandler and a few miles east of where Route 66 again crosses the I-44 Turnpike (at exit 158), the old highway town of Warwick has a small gem: the Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum (405/258-9141, closed Wed., free), a simple 1920s filling station, recently and thoughtfully renovated to house a covetable collection of motorcycles, memorabilia, fan magazines, and more. My favorite item is a 1970s Evel Knievel pinball machine. Altogether there are around 60 motorbikes on display, mostly one-of-a-kind racing and motocross machines.

Lincoln Motel (740 East 1st St.)
Route 66 Interpretive Center (400 East 1st St.)
Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum (336992 Oklahoma 66)