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Route 66 has become firmly established in the nostalgia of Americana.
The lore of the road paints romantic pictures of a simpler time. It conjures images of weary travelers in classic cars resting for the night at rustic auto courts in quaint little towns where Mom and Pop still ran the soda fountain and a dime store sold things for a dime.
It quietly reveres the sad lot of these people who were displaced from their homes and driven along by the revenges of the dustbowl and the Great Depression. It beckons to the adventurer with the promise of new experiences and excitement beyond each turn.
Yes, in Flagstaff you can still cruise Route 66 and look back in time at iconic buildings some still with their neon signs. There are several of the historic hotels still lining Route 66 in Flagstaff and the world famous Museum Club that turned from a Route 66 roadhouse and taxidermy shop into a country western nightclub where you can go to line dance and hear live music. There are ghost towns and flourishing businesses along the route that speak to a simpler time.
As you drive along this historic road, you will see plenty of opportunities to pull over and snap a photo of the Route 66 road sign. There's also a cool photo opportunity at the Amtrak Train Station in Downtown Flagstaff, where you will find a cool painted mural on the asphalt featuring the Route 66 logo.
Walk This Talk - Route 66 is a new pedestrian audio tour that commemorates Flagstaff’s original alignment of Route 66 on Phoenix Avenue and Mikes Pike. Located in the city’s walkable Southside neighborhood, Walk-66 features pedestrian scale signs to announce significant structures, events, and people that were affected by the Route, or which in turn, affected the Route’s alignment. The project’s ten signs notify pedestrians to call toll-free phone number (928) 218-2926 to hear pre-recorded histories of site-specific occurrences, the general history of Southside, and the history of Route 66 in downtown. The program is introduced Hollywood actor and Flagstaff’s own, Ted Danson, with the actual tour stops voiced by local writer, Rose Houk. The first stop on the audio tour begins just outside the entry doors on the north side of the Visitor’s Center and provides an overview of the tour and its path through Southside which terminates at the intersection of Mikes Pike and Milton Road.
Since all you Flagstaff Route 66 aficionados are so well-versed on the Mother Road’s “Must-See” spots – like the Museum Club, Miz Zips and the Flagstaff Visitor Center – I’m here to tell you about lesser-known gems that you’d kick yourself if you missed.
As a travel writer, I’m always looking for hideaways that earn bragging rights, and I want to slap myself silly if I learn about one AFTER I’ve left the place. With the following six insider secrets, you’ll score impressive photo ops, backstories and much to crow about.You’ll kick yourself if you miss these top 5 Route 66 hidden gems and things to do:
Stationed on a lost portion of Route 66, this locally-owned craft brewery is off the beaten path. The original Route 66 followed the railroad spur (Mikes Pike) that serviced Flagstaff’s Riordan Lumber Mill. The reroute took place when an underpass was constructed to facilitate congestion caused by families moving west during the Dust Bowl at what is now Milton Road.
Discover that original alignment of Route 66 by walking or driving south on Beaver Street from the Flagstaff Visitor Center to Phoenix Avenue. Follow Phoenix Avenue west to Mikes Pike, and you’ll be tracing the original route of the Mother Road, John Steinbeck’s name for Route 66. Turn left onto Mikes Pike and go one block to Mother Road Brewing Company. The family-friendly taproom, located in the 1920s Milum Building, serves beer with Route 66 inspired names such as “Lost Highway Black IPA’ and “Gold Road Kölsch Style Ale.
Not many peeps are aware of the 90th Anniversary edition of the Arizona Historic Route 66 Passport, but you’ll be “in the know” when you ask for one at the Flagstaff Visitor Center in historic downtown. The commemorative document reveals where in Arizona you can collect stamps for your secret Route 66 passport.
Just when you thought that the Eagles hit “Take it Easy” was inspired by songwriter Jackson Brown’s experience on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, here comes the backstory. According to an interview with local entertainment producer Matthew Ziegler, Brown revealed, “The image of that girl driving a truck was an image that came from east Flag(staff). … It wasn’t really a flatbed Ford. It was a Toyota truck, and it was pulling out of Weinerschnitzel.” The drive-thru has since changed its name to Dog Haus, but you could reenact your own version of the hush-hush story by checking out who’s slowin’ down to take a look at you while you wait for your dogs or breakfast burritos. In case you don’t know them by heart, here’s the words to that iconic road trippin’ song penned by Brown and Glenn Frey:
Well, I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona,
Such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me
This is my favorite neon sign along all of Arizona Route 66. The feet on the team of horses trot as they pull the covered wagon, which, of course, makes the spoked wheels go round and round. How fun is that? Get out of your car to make the most of this photo op and try out the video mode on your camera to capture the motion. The sign shares the address, 1580 E Route 66, Flagstaff with Agave Mexican Restaurant, which gets dos thumbs up from this travel correspondent.
If you don’t know where this almost block-long mural is located, you could easily drive right past it. Decorating the south wall of the Lumberyard Brewery at 5 South San Francisco Street, it is worth the stop to get out and view the detailed mural. The mural depicting classic cars, Flagstaff’s historic Indian Pow Wow and local Route 66 icons, makes this a great selfie backdrop to document your Route 66 exploits. After capturing your selfie, turn around and get a shot of the historic Downtowner Motel sign across the street.