Route 66 – Illinois

Route 66 starts in Chicago, Illinois. On East Adams Street in Chicago, near the Art Institute of Chicago, you can find the start sign of Route 66. Recently a newer sign was placed on the corner of Adams Street and Wabash Street.


The skyline of Chicago
The skyline of Chicago

Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket

Since 1938 Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket serves the best fried chicken in the world. The current restaurant was built in 1946. Already 70 years Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket is the ideal stop to eat on your way to or from Chicago. 

645 Joliet Road, Willowbrook, Illinois

Joliet Prison

Joliet prison became worldfamous by the openingscene of Blues Brothers. Jake Blues was released from the prison at the east entrance. Also the first season of Prison Break was recorded here. The prison was closed in 2002 and is maintained as a public park.

1125 Collins Street, Joliet, Illinois

Route66 Illinois 1 JolietPrison

Gemini Giant 

Gemini Giant is one of the ‘Muffler Men. These giants were placed alongside highways in the 50’s to promote a carparts shop. In their hands they carried a muffler. Some owners put clothes on the giants. The owners of Gemini Giant replaced the muffler by a rocket en dressed him as an astronaut to promote the Launching Pad Drive-in.

810 East Baltimore Street, Wilmington, Illinois

Route66 Illinois 2 GeminiGiant

Polk-A-Dot Drive-In 

More than 50 years ago Polk-A-Dot Drive-In was founded in a schoolbus painted with dots in all colors of the rainbow. They offered fries with chili and cheese. Later the bus was replaced by a diner that takes you back to the 50’s. Outside there are statues of Elvis Presly, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, the Blues Brothers and Betty Boop.

222 North Front Street, Braidwood, Illinois

Route66 Illinois 3 Polk A DotDriveIn

Two-cell Jail

The historic 2-cell jail of Gardner was built in 1906 and was used until the end of the 50’s. Now it’s a nice photo-op.

East Mazon Street, Gardner, Illionois

Route66 Illinois 4 TwoCellJail

The Dwight Texaco Station 

The Dwight Texaco Station opened in 1933 and was operating until 1999, earning it the title of longest operated gas station on Route 66. After a renovation the station was reopened as the visitor center of Dwight.

417 West Waupansie Street, Dwight, Illinois 

Route66 Illinois 5 DwightTexacoStation

The Odell Station

The old Standard Sinclair gas station was beautifully restored by the Illinois Route 66 Association. It has received many prices. Now it is a visitor center, but it was build in 1932 to sell gas to the travellers on Route 66. Operations were stopped in 1975.

400 South West Street, Odell, Illinois

Route66 Illinois 6 TheOdellStation

Old Log Cabin Inn 

Why would you turn a restaurant 180 degrees? Well, Route 66 was widened from 2 to 4 lanes and the route was slightly altered, passing the back of the restaurant. So the owners of Old Log Cabin Inn decided to turn around the restaurant, so it would face Route 66 again. The old road can still be seen behind the restaurant.

18700 Old Route 66, Pontiac, Illinois

Route66 Illinois 7 OldLogCabinInn

Murals in Pontiac 

In Pontiac the Walldogs created 18 murals that depicted the history of Pontiac and Route 66. In only 4 days 150 artists created the 18 murals. The most famous is the one on the backside of the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum.

110 West Howard Street, Pontiac, Illinois 

Route66 Illinois 8 PontiacMuurschilderingen

The Bunyon Giant

This giant is also one of the ‘Muffler Men’ and used to hold an axe. The giant was sold in 1965 and the axe was replaced by a hotdog to promote a restaurant in Cicero. The restaurant was closed in 2003 and Bunyon Giant was moved to Atlanta.

Arch Street, Atlanta, Illinois

Route66 Illinois 9 BunyonGiant

Cozy Dog Drive In

Cozy Dog Drive In is home to the one and only ‘Cozy Dog’. A Cozy Dog is a sausage on a stick which is rolled in corndough and  fried. This is the place were the corndog was made for the very first time.

2935 South 6th Street, Springfield, Illinois

Route66 Illinois 10 CozyDogDriveIn

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum is almost 5000 sqm and is an ‘experience museum’. No boring panels and pictures, but innovating, state-of-the-art projections and animations. The museum takes you from the time of Lincoln’s youth, untill the day he was murdered.

212 North 6th Street, Springfield, Illinois

Route66 Illinois 11 LincolnPresidentialMuseamAndLibrary

Lincoln Home National Historic District 

The area surrounding the home of Lincoln is managed by the National Park Service and is traffic-free. The environment takes you back to the 1860’s. There are wooden pavements and gaslights light the streets. The home itself is restored and can be visited several times a day with a park ranger.

426 South Seventh Street, Springfield, Illinois 

Route66 Illinois 12 LincolnHomeNationalHistoricDistrict

Lincoln’s Tomb State Historic Site

The impressive monument is the burial place of Lincoln, his wife and his children. Statues show Lincoln in different faces of his career and bronze tables are engraved with the text of the Gettysburg Address, his most famous speech. Nearby there are memorials for the veterans of the Korean and Vietnam war.

1500 Monument Avenue, Springfield, Illinois

Route66 Illinois 13 LincolnsTombStateHistoricSite

Shea’s Gas Station Museum

Shea’s Gas Station was the first gas station on Route 66. Now it is a museum.

2075 Peoria Road, Springfield, Illinois

Route66 Illinois 14 SheasGasStationMuseum

Ariston Cafe 

The Ariston Cafe is the oldest restaurant on Route 66. It was opened in 1935. It also used to have a gas station and a shop. The food here is excellent.

413 Old Route 66, Litchfield, Illinois 

Route66 Illinois 15 AristonCafe

Soulby Shell Station

The Soulsby Shell Station is a typical example of a Route 66 gas station. It was operated from 1926 to 1991. The son of the owner also had an TV repair service.

710 West First Street, Mount Olive, Illinois

Route66 Illinois 16 SoulbyShellStation


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.