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.”

Old Route 66: Stroud

Between Sapulpa, on the suburban fringes of southwest Tulsa, and the next main stop, Chandler, old Route 66 zigzags back and forth along the freeway for the next 50 miles. Near the east end of this stretch, three miles west of Sapulpa, the circa-1921 Rock Creek Bridge is a reminder of what the old roads were really like: 120 feet long yet only 12 feet wide. The truss is rusty but the bridge still stands as a proud reminder of the original 1920s Route 66. Across the bridge is another evocative reminder: an abandoned drive-in movie theater, long closed but with the screen and the fan-shaped parking lot still intact.

Continuing west, old-roads fanatics will probably want to follow the winding alignment of Route 66, which continues along the south side of the turnpike for over 40 miles. On the west side of Stroud (pop. 2,690; “Home of Daneka Allen, Miss OK 1999”), check out the Rock Cafe (114 W. Main St., 918/968-3990), a Route 66 relic built in 1939 out of local stone quarried when the original highway was cut in the 1920s. The Rock Café (whose bathroom featured original graffiti by Toy Story creator John Lasseter, who modeled some scenes in his Route 66 movie Cars on the Rock Café’s inimitable architecture) suffered from a fire in 2008 but got back up and running in no time and still churns out its better-than-average roadside fare. Stroud also has the classic old Skyliner Motel (717 W. Main St., 918/968-9556, $50 and up).

Rock Cafe (114 W. Main St.)
Skyliner Motel (717 W. Main St.)