Riding Historic U.S. Route 66 from Chicago thru Illinois

Historic Route 66 begins in Chicago, IllinoisHistoric Route 66 begins in Chicago, Illinois

Route 66 was one of the United States' first continuous stretches of paved highway, and served as a major path for those who migrated west.

"The Mother Road" was established on November 11, 1926, and ultimately stretched 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles.

The beginning point could be either city, depending on the direction of the trip. Most travelers seem to start their journey on Route 66 in Chicago, and head westbound. That is the direction we take on this website.

The beginning point of Route 66 in Chicago has changed over the years, originally starting on Jackson Boulevard at Michigan Avenue in 1926. Since 1933 the starting point has been Jackson Boulevard at Lake Shore Drive.

Once outside the metropolitan Chicago area, Route 66 followed the Pontiac Trail, a former Indian trail and stagecoach road.

From its beginning in Chicago, Route 66 headed southwest to Joliet, Wilmington, Dwight, Odell, Pontiac, Bloomington, Lincoln and Springfield. The segment from Chicago to Springfield is roughly a 2.5 hour drive.

Illinois travel map from the Gulf Oil Company

While in Chicago, many visitors seek out Grant Park, the Willis Tower, the museums, and the lakeshore shopping areas.

Leaving Chicago and arriving in Joliet, travelers like to visit the Joliet Museum, Rialto Square Theatre and the Jacob Henry Mansion.

The City of Dwight features a restored Ambler-Becker Texas service station as well as a wealth of historic structures. Odell, just down the route, is the locale of another restored gas station.

Pontiac is a great stopover traveling down Illinois, with the always popular Route 66 Hall of Fame a "must see" attraction. Other attractions include the Pontiac-Oakland Auto Museum and the Livingston County War Museum.

Springfield was the hometown of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Visitors can tour the house where he lived, Lincoln Tomb State Historical Site, the Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, and the Illinois State Capitol Building.

Leaving Springfield, Route 66 traversed Litchfield, Staunton and Hamel, and then continued on to the Chain of Rocks Bridge at St. Louis, where it turned west through Rolla, Springfield, Joplin and into Kansas and Oklahoma.

Illinois was the first of the eight states through which Route 66 passed to have its segment of U.S. 66 paved, at a time when much of the route across the country was still a gravel or dirt road.

We've driven much of Route 66 in all eight states, including segments in Illinois. On this website we present road trips including original photographs, travel experiences and personal commentary. Now ... let's head west on The Mother Road!

Map showing approximate Route 66 location from Chicago to St. Louis, MissouriMap showing approximate Route 66 location from Chicago to St. Louis, Missouri


Photo Highlights from Road Trips Along Route 66 in Illinois

The Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois
The Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois
A Route 66 Roadside Attraction: Ambler's Texaco Station in Dwight, Illinois
Ambler's Texaco Station in Dwight, Illinois
A Route 66 Roadside Attraction: Ambler's Texaco Station in Dwight, Illinois

 

Roadside Attraction: 1932 Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell, Illinois
Roadside Attraction: 1932 Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell, Illinois

1932 Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell, Illinois

Patrick O’Donnell built a gas station in Odell, Illinois based on a 1916 Standard Oil of Ohio design, commonly known as a domestic style gas station. In 1997, the station was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

1932 Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell, Illinois

 

 

Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, Pontiac, Illinois
Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, Pontiac, Illinois


Scenes in Towanda, Illinois along Route 66 ... Dead Man's Curve to the right

Towanda, Illinois along Route 66 Dead Man's Curve near Towanda, Illinois along Route 66


Shea's in Springfield Illinois, along Historic Route 66

Shea's in Springfield Illinois, along Historic Route 6

Henry's Rabbit Ranch ... HARE IT IS! ... Staunton, Illinois

Henry's Rabbit Ranch ... HARE IT IS! ... Staunton, Illinois

 

Welcome to Hamel, Illinois ... Established 1884
Welcome to Hamel, Illinois

The historic Chain of Rocks Bridge spanning the Mississippi River on the north edge of St. Louis, Missouri

The historic Chain of Rocks Bridge spanning the Mississippi River on the north edge of St. Louis, Missouri

Lodging Options Along Route 66 in Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Joliet, Illinois

Pontiac, Illinois

Springfield, Illinois

Click to review hotels and restaurants, read reviews and make reservations at TripAdvisor

 

Driving West
on the Next Route 66 Segment?

From St. Louis to Joplin Across Missouri

Route 66 Road Trip across Missouri from St. Louis to Joplin

 

More Route 66 and Travel-Related Resources