California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 17

2

Route 66

MOJAVE NATIONAL
PRESERVE
BARSTOW

doubled as Route 66). A short drive northeast brings you to Pasadena.
PASADENA

Stop to eat at Gus's Barbecue, which has served as a popular lunch pitSAN BERNARDINO

stop since 1946. Snap a selfie under the original neon sign, then head
around the corner to Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, where

SANTA MONICA PIER

weary Route 66 travelers have stopped for chocolate malts since the
HOLLYWOOD

AUTO CLUB
SPEEDWAY

As the song implores, "if you ever plan to
motor west, take the highway that's the best,
get your kicks on Route 66."
This iconic thoroughfare stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles
(some 2,400 miles) served as the primary route for people who
migrated west in search of the California dream, especially during

From Pasadena, follow Route 66 along the base of the San Gabriel
Mountains, making a short detour (just a couple blocks) to witness
some of the world's best racecar drivers at the legendary Auto Club
Speedway in Fontana. The two-mile, D-shaped track draws top
drivers-and high-speed fans-for the Auto Club 400, one of NASCAR's
premier events. To see cars up-close, pick up pre-race pit passes for
both NASCAR and INDYCAR events.
Back on Route 66, you'll continue east for about 30 minutes, passing

the 1930s Dust Bowl. While some of the original route has been lost or

through the town of Rialto, which is dotted with vintage motels (the

rerouted, you can still piece key points together to experience blast-

tee-pee-style Wigwam Motel is most celebrated) to San Bernardino,

from-the-past diners, classic motor-lodges, retro filling stations, and

the city immortalized in the lyrics of the classic Route 66 song. Head

kitschy museums.

to the very first McDonald's (opened in 1940; it's now a free museum),

Start your trip in the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, home to the

then tour the beautifully restored 1918 Santa Fe Railway Station and

world-famous Santa Monica Pier, which is the westernmost point on

Depot. San Bernardino is sprinkled with classic service stations and

Route 66. Boasting a 3.5-mile-long soft sand beach, Santa Monica feels

retro-funky roadside motels.

more like a weekend getaway spot than a city just west of downtown
PHOTOGRAPH: SKY NOIR PHOTOGRAPHY BY BILL DICKINSON

1920s (the original soda fountain is still in operation).

Now turn northeast to traverse the valley separating the San Gabriel

Los Angeles. Before you hop in your car, you will want to hang out on

and San Bernardino Ranges to Barstow, a desert town bursting with

the broad beach or the lively pier (complete with its own amusement

memorabilia commemorating the Route 66 migration. Stop by the

park and rides).

California Welcome Center to get local tips on where to eat and what

From the pier, follow the original Route 66 east along buzzing Santa

to do in town. Two must-sees: the Route 66 Mother Road Museum, a

Monica Boulevard and through the heart of Beverly Hills to Hollywood,

collection of period road signs and other mid-century artifacts, and

home to the world-famous TCL Chinese Theatre (the former Grauman's

Tom's Certified Welding & Machine Shop, home to a number of vintage

Chinese Theatre). Built in 1927, the iconic big-screen mecca remains a

gas station signs and other cool relics.

venue for star-studded premieres. Catch a flick-it's the largest IMAX

Be sure to bring along plenty of drinking water and fill the tank

auditorium in the world-then take a tour of the famed movie palace.

for the next leg of your trip, a journey into dramatic desert parkland.

Now head southwest into downtown L.A. to the original ending point

Driving east on Route 66 and Interstate 40, the land turns drier, the

of Route 66, the Broadway Theatre and Commercial District (Broadway

views more untouched and surreal. Protecting 1.6 million acres of

and 7th was the official terminus). There you'll find a cluster of restored

pristine wilderness, the Mojave National Preserve is a serene spot to

movie houses and Art Deco storefronts, including the hundred-year-old

soak up the desert magic. Explore singing sand dunes and miles of

(and still operating) Million Dollar Theatre, which is adjacent to the hip

Joshua trees, hike up volcanic cinder cones, and see abandoned mines

Grand Central Market food hall.

and remote homesteads.

17

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP

From there, you'll hop on Interstate 110, which turns into the Arroyo
Seco Parkway, the first true urban highway in the western U.S. (it also



California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures

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California Road Trips - 50 Life-Changing Adventures - 1
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