Lucky for Texans, the most famous road in America cuts through the Texas Panhandle. It’s Route 66, the “Mother Road of America,” moving cross-country travelers from Chicago to Los Angeles with numerous stops in the Lone Star State. Taking this route from the Oklahoma border to the New Mexico border is more than a great road trip—it’s a trip through American history.
Every traveler should “drop in” to this Route 66 landmark in Shamrock. Once a gas station and diner, today it’s a visitor center, gift shop, and great place to grab a cup of coffee and stretch your legs. Its art-deco architecture is so iconic that it was immortalized in the Pixar movie Cars. Roam through and imagine the good ol’ days when travelers such as Elvis used to drop in for a fill up.
1242 N. Main St., Shamrock
Devil’s Rope Museum
Through its history, Route 66 was marked by strange roadside attractions dedicated to the weird and wonderful. This museum in McLean carries on that tradition by telling the story of barbed wire (aka “devil’s rope”). There’s also a collection of antiques from other stops like the Reptile Ranch in Alanreed and the original giant cow that topped the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo.
Open March 1-Nov. 1
100 Kingsley St., McLean
Giant Cross of Groom
You can see this attraction coming from miles away—a huge cross made of 2.5 million pounds of steel. Located at a rest stop, the 19-stories-tall cross also has a life-size bronze sculpture of the last supper, an empty tomb, and a replica of the Shroud of Turin below it. It’s a fascinating place to stop for a potty break or to ponder life’s greater mysteries.
Off I-40/Route 66, Exit 112, Groom
Route 66 Historic District
While many of the old buildings in downtown Amarillo have been lost to time and development, this district feels frozen in time. Spend the afternoon exploring small shops and restaurants, like The NAT, an antiques shop in a building that has been everything from an indoor pool to a ballroom where Duke Ellington once performed. Don’t miss the juicy burgers at the Golden Light Café and Cantina, where the booths and photo-covered walls tell the story of why this place has been a favorite since 1946.
3511 W. Sixth Ave., Amarillo
The exact midpoint of this 2,278-mile stretch of pavement between Illinois and California just so happens to be in Texas. Straddling the center line is a ’50s-themed diner serving some of the best pie in the country. They call it “ugly pie” because the homemade crust is never uniform or picture perfect. But oh, does it taste perfect.
305 W. Route 66, Adrian
Whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope to see you on the road.
Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper travel show on PBS.
To view the Route 66 episode visit thedaytripper.com. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.