National Parks & Jaw Dropping Scenery…The Best Route 66 ARIZONA Attractions
This post is part of a series I’ve done on Route 66. In 2022, I drove the entirety of Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. 2500 miles, 8 states, countless stories, and an endless stretch of small towns, neon, diners, motels, and roadside attractions. Read through all of my Route 66 posts here. They’re also linked at the end of this post. If you’re planning your own Route 66 road trip, either the whole thing or just a part, I hope these help you out. Enjoy the drive!
I finally made it to Arizona on my Route 66 road trip! This was my first time in Arizona and honestly I had pinned all of my Route 66 hopes and dreams on this stretch.
I had visions of canyons, red rock mesas, and stunningly dramatic landscapes all the way through Arizona (I’ve seen Pixar’s Cars one too many times a lot ; ) and IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT.
While I firmly support the idea that every single state along Route 66 has amazing things to offer and is 100% worth your time, for me…Arizona is the crown jewel.
I’ve written pretty extensively about my Route 66 trip and you can read my play by play posts on the Albuquerque to Flagstaff stretch, Flagstaff, and the Flagstaff to San Bernardino stretch, but this post is more of a postmortem or a post game wrap up, if you will. I’m writing these state by state posts to recap what I liked, what I loved, what I wasn’t very impressed with, etc.
I’ve got notes on what turned out to be my favorite spots and favorite restaurants plus recommendations of what I’d do differently next time. And I’ll also make recommendations on places that I would actually stay (because I’m not usually a $79/night motel kind of gal).
Arizona Route 66
Okay, here we go…
Route 66 Towns in Arizona
Let’s start off with a list of towns that Route 66 passes through in Arizona so you can lay it out on a map. This is NOT every single town, there are just the ones that I personally found to be the most noteworthy.
My Favorite Arizona Route 66 Attractions
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park (which includes the Painted Desert) is the only National Park that Route 66 passes through and it’s a don’t miss.
The northern end of the park is mostly the Painted Desert and the southern end is the Petrified Forest.
While there are places you can hike, you can see pretty much the whole park from the car. There are a lot of places to pull over for a better view, and in general it’s a great accessible park. If you’ve got kids, older folks, or people who aren’t able to adventure much, you will be able to see soooooo much natural beauty just from the car.
If you do have a little extra time, I would plan to hike the Blue Mesa Trail. You can see it super good from the overlook but I bet it’s even better up close.
I would plan to spend about two hours in the park if you’re not planning to hike but also not just zooming through.
Jack Rabbit Trading Post
This is an old time famous Route 66 stop. They used to advertise pretty heavily up and down the route so it was exciting when you finally saw it, but it pretty much runs on nostalgia these days.
Photo ops abound on the property from the giant jack rabbit out front to the billboard across the street.
A lot of these old places on the route are struggling to hang on so if you stop to take pictures, it’s always a good idea to go inside and buy something to support them.
Standin’ on a Corner
Winslow has to be one of the most famous small towns in Arizona. It didn’t make the line up in the big Route 66 song, but it definitely got its kicks in the Eagle’s 1972 hit Take It Easy.
Well I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
And such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me
Why yes, there is a corner in Winslow, Arizona that cashes in, eh commemorates, the classic song.
And let me tell you..Standin’ on the Corner is a hopping spot! I don’t know the last time I saw so many boomers taking selfies ; ) But seriously…they’ve got the flatbed Ford, a huge Route 66 shield on the pavement…it’s a huge draw.
Grand Canyon Railway
Williams is a town where you’re definitely going to want to spend some time. Despite being bypassed by the interstate, Williams stayed a going concern because it’s the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon.”
And that’s because you can ride the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. You can do the 64 mile trip (in operation since 1901) as a day trip or spend the night.
Williams is set up to handle the crowds. There’s a pretty sizable hotel plus an RV park and they do a big gunfight/show on the grounds every evening.
Plus the town itself is pretty cute. Two one way streets are lined with shops, restaurants, and some of the best neon you’ll find anywhere.
My personal favorite is the Turquoise Teepee.
Burma Shave Signs
Burma Shave signs were a staple on old Route 66, and there’s NOWHERE along Route 66 where you’ll see them like you will around Seligman.
If you’re not familiar, Burma Shave was a shaving cream company that advertised heavily along Route 66 with a series of signs that spelled out funny little advertising jingles.
Around Seligman, there are 3-4 sets of Burma Shave signs set up on either side of town, and I’m assuming they’re there as a tribute to Angel Delgadillo. Angel owned a barber shop on Route 66 and after business dried up when the town was bypassed by the interstate, Angel and his wife Vilma were instrumental in getting old 66 recognized as an official historic highway.
Angel and Vilma Delgadillo’s Original Route 66 Gift Shop
In Seligman, you’ll want to visit Angel and Vilma Delgadillo’s Original Route 66 Gift Shop which still has Angel’s original barbershop intact.
Delgadillo Snow Cap
And you definitely don’t want to miss, a drive-in originally owned and operated by Angel’s brother Juan originally owned and operated Delgadillo’s Snow Cap nextdoor and it’s definitely a don’t miss. Like maybe…if you’re only going to make one classic Route 66 stop in Arizona, make it this one.
Yes, the burgers, fries, and shakes are good, but the whole place feels like an attraction.
Juan’s son runs the place now and he keeps up all of his dad’s jokes and antics. He personally got me with the “string coming out of the mustard bottle” gag ; )
The Snow Cap was pretty busy when we were there midday and it was interesting to see that we were pretty much the only Americans there. This is definitely on a “top 10 spots to visit on Route 66” list and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Hackberry General Store
Stopping at the Hackberry General Store is a MUST. It’s one of the most iconic curio shops on the route and you’ll want to spend equal amounts of time inside and outside. It’s a great gift shop and photo op.
Arizona Route 66 Museum
The Arizona Route 66 Museum is the main attraction in Kingman and it kind of anchors the town. The whole area is really well designed and I was pretty impressed.
Mostly. Here’s the deal…I had researched ahead of time and they were supposed to be open until 4PM, but when we walked up to the ticket counter at 3:15, the lady told us that they were closing for a private event at 3:30. Crunch time! But she let us in for free.
Honestly, 15 minutes was about enough time. The building that the museum is housed in is pretty impressive, and they do have some interesting things to look at, it’s just not very big and they charge $10/adult which seemed pretty high for what it was.
If this place was free, I would probably be raving about it. It’s in an old powerhouse that was used to generate electricity from 1909 to 1938 and they’ve done a wonderful job converting it into a museum and gift shop.
One of the coolest parts is the big drive thru Route 66 shield!
If Arizona is the crown jewel of Route 66 then the Oatman Highway is the big dazzling diamond in the center. Does that even make sense? Well anyways, it’s not something that you want to miss.
From Kingman, it’s about 23 miles through twisty curves over a 3500 foot mountain pass of spectacular desert scenery where you’ll see the occasional BURRO.
Nothing against California, but in my research before my trip I saw sooooo many people who drive Route 66 often say that they cut out after Oatman because that’s the last great stop and I kind of get it. It’s just hard to top.
They call it the Sidewinder (you can guess why), but the fun’s not over when you arrive in Oatman.
Oatman is an abandoned “historic” mining town that really puts on a show for the tourists every day. Gunfights, burros galore, and every type of western themed sideshow you can imagine.
Where I Ate, What I Liked & Where I Would Go Next Time
I’ll be honest…since I was nearing the end of my big Route 66 road trip, I was growing a little weary of Route 66 themed diners and drive-ins so a lot of the places I ate in Arizona weren’t all necessarily “Route 66 classics,” but here’s the scoop nonetheless…
Let’s start with the places I ate…
Turquoise Room at La Posada (Winslow, AZ)
My personal favorite spot in Winslow is La Posada Hotel. I didn’t stay the night here (in hindsight I totally would have), but we stopped in for lunch at the Turquoise Room and to take a look around.
So you should definitely spend the night there, but even if you don’t…you need to visit for lunch. We had one of the best meals of our trip at the Turquoise Room. The cuisine is local and fresh (have you had enough diner food yet?) and it feels a little upscale without being very expensive.
Their signature soup was amazing (it’s a smooth black bean and cream of corn) and the crispy pork carnitas were great but what completely stole the show was the pumpkin cheesecake served with caramel gelato. We are STILL talking about it.
Over Easy (Flagstaff, AZ)
I love a good breakfast spot and Over Easy definitely didn’t disappoint. Their menu is full of decadent, over the top breakfast specials, but the classics were pretty good too. The restaurant is bright and airy and the vibe is a modern take on the vintage diner.
Delgadillo’s Snow Cap (Seligman, AZ)
I already mentioned this place under the “attraction” section, but I’ll say it again…if you’re only going to make one classic Route 66 stop in Arizona, make it this one.
The Rickety Cricket Brewery (Kingman, AZ)
I was looking for a non-diner option in Kingman and after driving through most of the town, this looked like the best option. Yes it’s a brewery and they have great beer, but their pizza and salads were sooooo good!
Places I Would Try Next Time
If you’re holding tight to the Route 66 “classics,” check these places out…
Mr D’z Route 66 Diner (Kingman, AZ): This is the obvious place to go in Kingman, but honestly after doing this whole trip I was kind of OD’d on Route 66 themed diners. But it looks cute!
Joe & Aggie’s Cafe (Holbrook, AZ)
Roadkill Cafe (Seligman, AZ)
Miz Zip’s (Flagstaff, AZ)
Cruisers Cafe on 66 (Williams, AZ)
Places I Would Actually Stay
I’ve mentioned before, but most of those $79/night roadside motels just aren’t for me. It has to be something pretty special to peak my interest and mostly I prefer something a little nicer.
The good news is that Arizona has some GREAT options for historic hotels on Route 66 that are actually nice places to stay. In fact, there are two that I would almost call “must stay” places:
La Posada (Winslow, AZ)
La Posada is SUCH a great historic hotel. It’s an old Harvey House that’s been completely renovated, but it’s retained all of its original character. I mentioned that we stopped here for lunch at the Turquoise Room and I loved it so much that I wished I had been able to stay the night.
High Country Motor Lodge (Flagstaff, AZ)
I spent a couple of nights here (I’ve got a full review in this post) and loved it so much that I would totally go back to stay on a non-Route 66 trip.
Other Historic Hotels
Wigwam Motel (Holbrook, AZ)
Holbrook is home to one of two wigwam motels on Route 66 and while they’re very nostalgic and unique, this one has definitely seen better days. If staying in a Wigwam Motel is on your bucket list, I would choose the one in San Bernardino.
Hotel Monte Vista
Flagstaff has a great downtown and it’s anchored by the Hotel Monte Vista. Their rooftop sign is iconic as is the cocktail lounge which opened for business on New Year’s Day 1927. It looks like an okaaaaay option, but I would have a hard time picking it over the High Country Motor Lodge.
Options in Kingman
Kingman has a couple of historic motels. El Trovatore is the most iconic option, but there’s also the Hilltop Motel. Honestly I don’t think I would stay in either.
Kingman is a town where several different interstates and highways cross so you’ve got most of your roadside chain options. I stayed in a Springhill Suites here which was perfectly fine.
Other Things to See & Do in Arizona BESIDES Route 66
This section is really important to me, because the whole point of driving Route 66 recreationally was to See America so besides all of the vintage, kitchy, and historic attractions on Route 66, I like to spend a little time focusing on what you might be able to see and experience in each state that’s unique to that part of the country.
And Arizona is arguably going to be the state with the biggest potential for detours and road trips. Most people (at least me ; ) associate Route 66 heavily with Arizona and the southwest in general. And while Northern Arizona is CHOCK FULL of iconic sights to see, most of them will take a little detour from the actual route.
Since Arizona is so heavily concentrated with “must see” spots, I’ll keep this list focused on Northern Arizona:
Grand Canyon: If you’ve never been to this part of the country before, you MUST see the Grand Canyon. Yes, it’s a detour but it’s a small one and a lot of these Route 66 towns have made their livings based on proximity. Williams has the Grand Canyon Railway, but if you’re not doing the train ride, Flagstaff is probably the best place to overnight.
Sedona: The red rocks of Sedona are classic southwest and if you’re at all into hiking, you’re going to want to take this detour. Sedona is about an hour south of Flagstaff and you can easily spend a full day plus in Sedona.
Monument Valley: Monument Valley is high on my bucket list and hopefully I’ll finally get to visit next year. This is the biggest detour on this list and you’ll probably need to stay the night. You’ll want to break away from Route 66 past Gallup and head north to get to Monument Valley.
Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Canyon: Head up to Page, Arizona to spend a couple of days (it’s also a great basecamp for the Grand Canyon) at nearby Antelope Canyon (one of the world’s most famous slot canyons) and Horseshoe Canyon. During the summer months is when you’ll get a chance to see the famous light beams in Antelope Canyon.
More Route 66 Arizona Resources
In all of my planning, I found some pretty good resources on the internet so I thought I’d share them with you here:
Rock the Route: Route 66 Check-in Challenge
Six Day Route 66 Arizona Itinerary
Planning a Route 66 road trip? I’ve got all of the info you need!
I’ve written about my cross country road trip pretty extensively section by section. Read them all here: Part 1 (Chicago), Part 2 (Chicago to St. Louis), Part 3 (St. Louis), Part 4 (St. Louis to Springfield MO), Part 5 (Springfield, MO), Part 6 (Springfield, MO to Tulsa), Part 7 (Tulsa), Part 8 (Tulsa to OKC), Part 9 (OKC), Part 10 (OKC to Amarillo), Part 11 (Amarillo), Part 12 (Amarillo to Albuquerque), Part 13 (Albuquerque), Part 14 (Albuquerque to Flagstaff), Part 15 (Flagstaff), Part 16 (Flagstaff to San Bernardino), Part 17 (Los Angeles).
Plus I’ve done roundups by state: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California.
I’ve got the scoop on where to stay including the best Route 66 motels recommendations.
And finally, my final trip recap where I spill the beans on how many days you need, the best itinerary, my favorite don’t miss spots, and other tips.