Are you heading out on the iconic Route 66 Los Angeles to Grand Canyon route? Traveling on the notorious Route 66 is a dream for many. While it takes a lot of time and planning to drive the entire length of the road (all 2,451 miles of it!), it is possible to drive sections of the road without much of an effort. We haven’t fulfilled our quest to drive the entire length of the road, but we were able to get a good taste by driving Route 66 from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon. It was just enough to know that we will be back for more. (Update: We did it again going all the way to Oklahoma!)
Starting the drive on Route 66 from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon, we happened across some awesome sites that are worth the detour and longer drive times. The most difficult part of this drive is continually rerouting the GPS to stay off of Interstate 40!
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Top Stops on Route 66 Los Angeles to Grand Canyon
Whether you are have been exploring Los Angeles on a vacation or if you are local, if you head out towards Route 66, from Los Angeles you are in for a treat. There are so many amazing, quirky and cool places to check out on this old timey iconic road. From arty installations to neon lights and scenes straight out of a movie, this road has it all.
1. Get Artsy at Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, CA
One of the most unique and quirky places on our Route 66 adventure from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon was Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch in Oro Grande, CA (National Trails Hwy, Oro Grande, CA 92368). This funky sanctuary of rural folk art is definitely worth the detour.
Walking around taking in the light and colors from the glass bottle topped iron trees, with random relics from times past weaved throughout the fun ranch, is a great way to get out and stretch your legs. Even in 100°F temperatures, it was a joy to walk through the man made forest, soaking up a small bit of the artistic quirkiness that is so closely tied to the idea of Route 66.
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BONUS STOP: Calico Ghost Town, not really on Route 66 per se, but if you are in the area, it is a fun little detour, especially if you have kids. It is also a perfect stop over between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Founded in 1881 as a silver mining city, the Calico Ghost Town has hundreds of mines. Calico produced millions of dollars in silver in a span of 12 years. When silver went bust in the mid-1890s, Calico did too.
Calico has been restored, creating a fun place to hop back in time. You can wander the buildings, visit a mine, ride a cute mining train and have a meal. Kids will love it and so will most adults too!
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2. Feed Donkeys in Oatman, AZ
My son’s favorite stop of our Route 66 journey was in Oatman, AZ, an odd mix of ghost town and tourist trap. Oatman is a former gold mining town whose glory days are long since passed. Once a bustling town, it now has a minuscule population of approximately 100. Oatman looks like a set straight out of Hollywood, but it’s actually the real deal. Outside of the saloons and t-shirt shops, the town still retains it’s rough and tumble Wild West ways.
For kids, and adults alike, excitement abounds with seeing the wild burros roaming the streets looking for handouts. Many shops sell carrots for visitors to feed the wild donkeys, but bring your own if you can as the shops sell out and close randomly. Also, don’t miss the Wild West shootouts that take place each afternoon on Main Street that gives a sense of what life might have been like in the olden days. Timings vary from 12:30 to 2:00 depending on the season.
3. Re-live Cars Near Cool Springs Station
Another quick stop on Route 66 between Los Angeles and the Grand Canyon is Cool Springs Station. This top stop is located between Oatman and Kingman. Cool Springs Station is a restored gas station, which also houses a museum and gift shop.
The stretch of Route 66 from Oatman to Cool Springs is one of the most scenic areas of the drive, reminiscent of Cars the movie. It is easy to give this part of Route 66 a miss since your GPS will tell you to go back to the highway, but take the time to really explore this beautiful section of road.
4. Learn Route 66 History in Kingman, AZ
While Kingman won’t win any awards for an old time historic feel, it is a great stop off point to learn more about this historic drive. The Route 66 Museum, housed in an old power plant is full of life size dioramas, old cars, postcards and mementos to occupy you for a while.
Once you have had your fill, head across the street for a meal at the classic Americana Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner.
5. Feel the Spirit of Route 66 in Seligman, AZ
If you can only stop in one town on Route 66 from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon, Seligman should be the one. With its neon signs, roadside motels and quirky shops lining the road, you will get a true sense of the spirit of the old Route 66.
A favorite stop off point here is Delgadillo’s Snow Caps Drive-In (301 E. Route 66, 928/422-3291) for “Hamburgers without Ham”. Cars (the movie), loving kiddos will love exploring the wacky backyard of Snow Caps. The burgers, fries, and milkshakes (not to mention the jokes!) are worth the detour.
While in Seligman, take time to check out the Route 66 Gift Shop and Museum and miscellaneous shops along the main road.
Want to experience several places during a quick visit? Stop in at the Roadkill Cafe (502 W. Route 66, 928/422-3554) for food and walk the 15 minutes down to Delgadillo’s Snow Caps for a milkshake or ice cream, while checking out the shops along the way.
6. Check Out the Neon in Williams, AZ
Williams is primarily known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon, but isn’t shy about showing off its Route 66 heritage. Almost every store has markings of Route 66 outside, luring shoppers to purchase a variety of kitschy souvenirs. The old-fashioned street lamps and neon signs make Williams a great place to visit in the evening hours if you are just passing through. If you need all the bells and whistles of a functioning town, Williams makes a great place to stay with a grocery store, gas station and plenty of places to eat, sleep and shop.
If you can spare the time, think about hitching a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams which makes its way to the Grand Canyon every morning, returning in the afternoon (2 hours each way). A fun, stress free way to visit the Grand Canyon during a short visit. Looking for more traditional family fun, head to Bearizona just outside of Williams for a fun drive through animal park experience.
Driving on Route 66 is a classic American experience everyone should experience in some form. Reliving days past, experiencing the community spirit that is still alive and kicking in small town America is a great way to remember how this country was built. So, go on, load up your road trip playlist and head out on the highway…to get your kicks on Route 66.
Where to Stay on Route 66 Between Los Angeles and Grand Canyon
If you are like us and spend a lot time at each of the sites on Route 66 you might need to find a place to stay along the way. Now that we have done this route a few times we have a couple of recommendations on where you can stay on Route 66 between Los Angeles and the Grand Canyon (and a little further too) for both a quick stop over and to enjoy the sites longer.
Plug in your dates on the map below to see all the options available in the area.
San Bernardino, California
If you are starting your Route 66 road trip from Santa Monica and want an iconic place to stay for the night, we highly recommend finding your way to the Wigwam Hotel. This place in San Bernardino is oozing with history and is super cute and fun for kiddos too! While here, stop in the McDonald’s Museum for a peak at the history of this iconic American fast food chain.
Known as the birthplace of Route 66 since preservation efforts began here, this is the best places to stop for a night or two to get the best feel for a classic roadside motel on Route 66 itself. Below are some of our favorites:
RV’ing & Camping
For those of you camping or road tripping by RV, pull over and I am sure there are plenty of great campgrounds or RV parks near you. For example, the Refuge Motorcoach Resort at Lake Havasu is a luxury stop for campers needing some pampering!
Apart from this RV resort, there are tons of options in all price ranges throughout the area, even for last minute campers like we usually are!
Beyond the Grand Canyon
If you are continuing your journey beyond the Grand Canyon, you have another option to stay at a Wigwam Motel. The one in Holbrook, just outside of the Petrified Forest makes for the perfect stop after your Grand Canyon visit and before you go to the Petrified Forest.
Other favorites along Route 66 heading towards Oklahoma include: Historic Route 66 Motel in Tucumcari. It’s bare bones (no fridge or microwave) but really cool, spacious, and affordable. The Blue Swallow is also adorable but a little pricier. And make sure to eat at Watson’s BBQ!
In Albuquerque you there is not shortage of places to stay, but a few favorites are the El Vado, a cute boutique Route 66 hotel and the Nativo Lodge with cool native art.
As we continue our journey westward, we will update with more places to stay!
Are there any spots on Route 66 that you think are well worth the stop? Share them with us below!
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Photo Credit: Route 66 photo at top via Flickr, Williams AZ Photo via Flickr, and Pete’s Gas Station Photo via Flickr
41 thoughts on “6 Amazing Stops on Route 66 Los Angeles to Grand Canyon That You MUST Visit”
That bottle tree ranch is kind of cool and kind of creepy at the same time…;)
Route 66 has been on my bucket list for some time. What a cool experience you are having, even doing it in segments. The Los Angeles to Grand Canyon section looks interesting – Elmer’s Bottle Tree ranch just looks to great to pass up!
This is so cool! I’ve always wanted to do a Route 66 road trip.
It would be great to hitch the old route 66! The Bottle Tree Ranch sound very interesting and I must admit, I have never heard of it. Thanks for the tips!
Looks like some fun places to stop off. I agree with Hitch-Hikers handbook…I bet you’d meet some real characters hitching route 66.
Oh my, all these places look great. The bottle ranch seems such a unique kind of place to visit, but I think my kids would also really like Oatman – what a fun stop off that must have been.
Is there a more iconic American road trip than Route 66?
I don’t think so!
That bottle tree place is amazing! Great way to recycle.
Awesome! I happened to be on Route 66 on my American Road trip some years ago but didn’t actually realize it until I saw the sign 🙂 felt kinda special though!
Oatman, AZ looks pretty interesting. I’d love to see an old (ole’) shootout! Touristy, but definitely cool to see!
how far is it from LA to the Grand Canyon on Route 66? looks like such a cool drive! we haven’t done much driving in the USA (except the west coast side) but we hope to drive into Vegas one day!
Actual drive time it’s probably only a bit longer, but with all the stops it’s was a long day. We stayed on Route 66 and then got up the next morning and did Bearizona before heading to the Grand Canyon. It was worth the extra detour for sure.
Great tips. I have a ’57 Chevy 210 (like a belair with less chrome) and always wanted to do a Route 66 road trip in it. It doesn’t have air conditioning, but I think it’s worth it to get pictures like these! Thanks for sharing.
That would be so awesome to do Route 66 in a car like that. Just do not go in the summer! When we went it was 120 degrees!! It was insane.
This looks like a fun list of stops! I’m looking at doing an American Southwest road trip with my family and you’ve added a bunch of stops to our list!
It was so much fun. My son is now dying to drive the entire road!
Great post! Thank you for all the feedback and info 🙂 I’m doing a road trip with my best friend next weekend from Los Angeles to Grand Canyon. We don’t have a ton of time unfortunately but we definitely want to stop in Seligman, either on the way to the GC or on our way back to LA. We definitely want to travel along Route 66 for some of the dive! I noticed you mentioned at the beginning of your post though to stay off I-40, however all the directions I keep finding from LA to GC incorporate that highway. Just curious if you would please offer any advice or the best route for us to take? We are sooooo excited and would really, really appreciate it 🙂 Thank you!!!
Hi Nicola, basically I had to keep detouring my gps to each town I wanted to go to as it also always wanted to go on 40. There is one section before Williams where you actually do have to get on 40, but then you will see an exit for the historical Route 66.
We loved the oatman section to Seligman the best. You could stop into Williams on the way back if you had time, but for me it was the least picturesque and felt more modern. The other parts were super cute and kitschy.
The grand canyon is amazing!! Let me know if you have more questions!
Awesome! Thank you so much for the info! We are leaving tomorrow morning… soooo excited!!! 🙂
On a brief visit to Las Vegas in 2011, we rented a car and explored part of Roure 66. It was fascinating and left us longing for more. Your post brought back fond memories. Thank you.
How many days did you give yourself on the trip?
We did most of this in one day. I was with a 4 year old so we stopped a lot!
Hi, this is very helpful as I`m going to LA in October and planning to rent a bike and ride to Grand Canyon.. I`ll have less then a week on a bike and I`m happy I can make this trip with all the stops. I wasn`t sure I could do in in 4-5 days.saa
*Thank you 🙂
On a bicycle‽ you are awesome. Good luck!!
Great post Karilyn,
I loved that first location, I would definitely go out of my way to see this. I’ve also been to Seligman and that is a fun place to visit on the way to the Grand Canyon.
What time of the year is best to go without it being too hot?
Anytime outside of summer is probably fine. We were there in June and it was toasty!!
Thanks for the great post! We (my husband and 15 month old son) are on our way to the Grand Canyon from L.A. and I’m so glad we found this info. We loved Elmer’s, stayed at a great KOA in Kingman, and plan to get a burger in Seligsman next!
Our final destination is Chattanooga, Tennessee with a week stop to visit family in Texas. Follow our Instagram account if you’re interested @themorgantrail
Sounds so fun! We are looking to do it again this summer, with the hopes to go all the way to Chicago! Let me know what your favorite stops are. We will also be stopping in Texas/Oklahoma for family visits!
Hi I am so happy to read about your trip. I will visit next month with my son aged 14 years old. I live in France. I never drive in US. We will travel from LA to Grand canyon and sleep there one night but we would like to stop over at Kingman or Seligman for my son. He loves Flash MCqueen. I am super stress cos of driving style ( different with EU countries, High way signs ).
Please advise me. How does it cost from LA to Grand Canyon by car?
Thanks in advance
Hi! Don’t worry about driving here, it won’t be much different than in Europe except for the signs and even then they are pretty basic! And the roads are pretty quiet once you get out of LA.
I don’t know how much it will cost.. probably a few tanks of gas which is anywhere from $30-50 a tank depending on the car. Then of course food on the road and accommodation. It will be fun!! Don’t stress.
I really want to do this one day, especially when it’s not too hot! Elmer’s Bottle Ranch looks like a super fun place to take photos and be silly!
It’s a cool little drive with totally kitschy places to check out. You would love it!
“Get your kicks on route 66” Is there a more iconic trip to take at least once in your life, especially with family and loved ones for sure.
I have heard the drive to Oatman is pretty scary from Kingman…did you find this? Also, how long did it roughly take to detour to Oatman (did you have to drive there, and then drive back the same way you had just come)? I desperately want to see it but have a limited time-frame and also I’m from New Zealand where we drive on the opposite side, so I’m not sure if that will be a good idea for my first time driving over there.
I didn’t find it scary. The roads are curvy and narrow in some areas, but if you go during daylight it’s fine. I just went one direction following the road all the way through all of these little towns. You probably could head Back out to the highway (your GPS will keep telling you too!), but it didn’t add that much more to our trip. We spent about 8 hours from our house in LA to the hotel in Seligman spending lots of time at each stop.
Excellent blog post- very nice. We went to nearby New Zealand in a Jucy van- the best mode of transportation ever! Also liked the little bit of Route 66 we got to see from LA to Vegas.
Always hear about the famous route 66 but wow it really exists! I NEED TO GO VISIT!
Route 66 was on the list for Spring 2020 but we all know what happened! Now, we are busy creating our plan for September, 2021. We are doing Route 66 (or as much as possible) in its entirety, Chicago to the pier in CA. We will definitely add your information to our list. So excited!