• DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2005)
  • Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric
  • LocationAZ, CA, IL, MO, NM, OK
  • Length421 of 2040.6 total miles
Byway Visitor Information
Illinois Route 66 Byway
Statewide Byway Partners
Illinois Department of Transportation
Illinois Office of Tourism
This grand historic pavilion
Bloomington Parks and Recreatoin Department Photo


The charm, the history, and the atmosphere that make up "The Mother Road" brings travelers from all over the world to experience America down a stretch of highway where "anything goes" is literal.

Local Byway Partners
  • Country Bend Campground (Litchfield)
  • Springfield Convention & Visitor Center
  • Atlanta Tourism
  • Bloomington-Normal Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Choose Chicago
  • DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Pontiac Tourism
  • The Tourism Bureau Illinois South

Story of the Byway

Route 66 was born in 1926 as part of the new numbered highway network and grew as a preferred route connecting the Midwest with the West coast as it traveled through southwest America. During the Depression, it became the Road of Flight as families escaped the Dust Bowl. In the classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck christened it the “Mother Road” and it has carried that name ever since. Chicago is where the route begins as it connects 90 communities in Illinois to the Chain of Rocks Bridge near Madison, IL. Over the years, there have been different alignments of the road. Route 66 in Illinois was the first section to be completely paved, making it a preferred route for illegal alcohol during prohibition. Production stills in central and southern Illinois could easily transport their product to Chicago and St. Louis speakeasies. This route has had an unprecedented volume of books, music, films, and other art forms that depict it as the essence of America’s highway culture.

Driving Directions

From Chicago, take Highway 66 as it traverses southwesterly from the eastern side of the state to St. Louis on the western side.

Points of Interest

  • Art Institute of Chicago

    Founded in 1879, it is one of America’s largest and oldest art museums.

  • Lake Michigan and Navy Pier

    3,300-foot pier along the shoreline of Lake Michigan in Chicago, encompassing 50 acres of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, family attractions, and exhibitions.

  • Field Museum of Natural History

    Premier Museum of Natural History.

  • Shedd Aquarium

    Opened in 1920, the aquarium holds 5 million gallons and is the home for 32,000 animals.

  • Adler Planetarium

    Public museum dedicated to the study of astronomy and astrophysics.

  • Joliet Collins Street Prison (Joliet Correctional Center)

    Where the movie “Blues Brothers” was filmed.

  • Joliet Area Historical Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center

    Promotes the history of the area and Route 66..

  • Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum (Pontiac)

    Tells the history of the “Mother Road.”

  • Pontiac -Oakland Automobile Museum

    Preserving, exhibiting and maintaining Pontiac and Oakland automobiles.

  • Sprague Super Service Station (Normal)

    Once a service station, restaurant, and garage it is now a private residence.

  • Route 66 Visitor Center (Bloomington)

    Route 66 and Abraham Lincoln themed visitor center.

  • Children’s Discovery Museum (Bloomington)

    Inspiring the love of learning through the power of play.

  • Lincoln

    Home to the Mill on 66, the World’s Largest Covered Wagon, Postville Court House (where Lincoln practiced law) and the Lincoln Heritage Museum.

  • Springfield

    Home to Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln’s Home National Historic Site, Lincoln’s Tomb, and Old State Capitol.

  • Lake Lou Yaeger

    1.300 acre reservoir created by damming the West Fork of Illinois’ Shoal Creek for recreation, sport fishing, and flood control purposes.


  • From Chicago to Pontiac

    Start off in Chicago at the Begin/End Route 66 signs. Be sure to take your time to explore this magnificent city. There are many parks and museums to explore. Go to the top of a skyscraper to catch a glimpse of the whole city! From Chicago, make your way to Berwyn. You’ll find the WeatherTech’s Berwyn Route 66 Car Show, train museums, Al Capone’s gravesite, the oldest original White Castle and more here!

    Follow State Route 53 south to the Joliet Area Historical Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center to learn more about the history of this area and pick up a Route 55 guide. Downtown, discover Joliet Kicks 66 Tours to see Route 66 themed murals, sculptures, mosaics, and antique replica pumps. Juliet has something for everyone from parks, historical buildings and museums (including prisons!), waterparks, raceways, and more.

    After an afternoon in Joliet, continue to Pontiac, an exciting city with fun for the whole family. Visit the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum or one of the many other museums in the area. Keep an eye out for iconic buildings such as the Illinois State Police District 6 Headquarters, which is shaped like a gun and sculptures like those in Dargan Park. This is a great place to stop for the night before continuing your journey on Route 66!

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