Traveling Arizona's Route 66 with CARS
Travel Arizona's piece of historic Route 66 – home to plenty of Americana and local flavor, and the inspiration for the film Cars. By Janet Webb Farnsworth and Richard Farnsworth
Route 66 has its loyal fans, but the animated film, Cars, created a whole new generation of Route 66 enthusiasts. The Disney-Pixar movie is an assemblage of sights along the entire stretch of the famed road, but travelers swear many are Arizona landmarks. After all, Arizona has the longest remaining section of Route 66 – more than 150 miles.
And until mid-1985, when Interstate 40 was completed in Arizona, Route 66 had been the “Main Street” of all the towns along its route. Today, slices of Americana remain seemingly untouched by the hand of time.
So, load up the family and hit the Mother Road to see how many scenes from the movie you recognize, and how many truly retro experiences you can have along the way.
Find the “Hottest Food on Route 66”
Remember those red sandstone bluffs from the movie? Now, look at those cliffs at the Arizona/New Mexico border. Familiar, huh? In downtown Holbrook, one of many towns bypassed by I-40, hit Joe and Aggie’s for “the hottest food on Route 66,” then watch for the Wigwam Motel. Doesn’t this remind you of Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel?
Between Holbrook and Winslow you’ll see bright yellow/black “Here It Is” signs.
In the movie, “Lizzie’s” is on the sign, but the real “Here It Is” is Jack Rabbit
Trading Post and, like Lizzie’s, it’s a curio shop.
See the Neon Lights of “Little Las Vegas”
Do you remember the scene in Cars when Radiator Springs turned on its neon signs for visitors?
Most likely a stand-in for Williams, known as Little Las Vegas because of its neon signs. It was the last town bypassed by the interstate on October 13, 1984. Here, Cruiser’s Diner offers food in a 1950s atmosphere. Check the memorabilia on the wall.
In Ash Fork, watch for DeSoto’s Beauty Shop. You can’t miss it. There’s a middle 1960s-era DeSoto perched on top of the building. Could that be Flo?
Radiator Springs, “the jewel strung on the necklace of Route 66,” is the imaginary town where racecar Lightning McQueen was stranded. Seligman also reminds me of Radiator Springs. Angel Delgadillo, the unofficial Guardian Angel of Route 66, brought attention to the Mother Road and operates the Route 66 Visitor Center there. If you’re lucky, Angel will be there telling stories. Listen in for a window to the past.
Next door, the Snow Cap has a quirky tradition of offering “cheeseburgers with cheese,” and if you ask for mustard, expect to have silly string squirted in your vicinity. Out front sits a white convertible with eyes painted on the windshield and a Christmas tree on the seat and behind the Snow Cap, a collection of old cars, fire trucks and memorabilia has congregated.
Cruise into Classic Kingman
Diehard Route 66ers cruise from Seligman to Kingman as part of the annual Route 66 Fun Run, passing Valentine, Peach Springs and Truxton. Hackberry General Store is almost a holy shrine for Route 66ers. Just look at the cheap price of gas on the old gasoline pumps. Times have really changed.
Stop in Kingman for a bite to eat at Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner then check out The Powerhouse, a great Route 66 museum, before following the narrow, twisty road to Oatman.
If you see a yellow warning sign with a burro on it, you’re not crazy. Descendents of the burros the miners left behind roam Oatman’s street and surrounding hills. Most are gentle, but don’t stand behind one or you might “Get your Kicks on Route 66!”
All you lack is the final run to the Colorado River and your Arizona Route 66 journey is over. Now, watch Cars again and see if you spot more Arizona reminders of old Route 66.
(Updated by the Arizona Office of Tourism - 2009)