Nat King Cole once crooned an invitation to "Get Your Kicks on Route 66." John Steinbeck wrote about Route 66 as a road to a better life from the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression in "The Grapes of Wrath." This route of epic proportions was once celebrated and is still beloved by many.
The residents of Radiator Springs in Pixar's "Cars" pay homage to the famous highway, as the once-busy town catered to motorists who now take the faster, nearby Interstate 40, leaving the town empty and forgotten. It's the story of many small towns along the 2,000-plus Route 66 stretch of highway between Chicago and Los Angeles.
Once the American interstate system was completed in 1984, the highway was decommissioned and ceased to exist, at least on the atlas. But Route 66 is hardly forgotten. Few places offer up a slice of Americana quite like the "Mother Road." Its mom-and-pop shops, diners, gas stations and kitschy roadside attractions—including a few new ones—still greet visitors along the alive-and-well Historic Route 66. Travelers can enjoy restored sections of the original road and its landmarks that are protected by state and/or federal efforts.