9 Best Things To Do on Route 66 in California
Traveling on Route 66 might be the most iconic road trip route in the U.S. Known as “the mother road”, Route 66 made inter-continental travel from Illinois to Los Angeles possible for millions.
Today we’re looking at the stretch of Route 66 that runs through California. Route 66 in California spans a short section in the bottom of the state. It enters in the mojave desert and ends in Los Angeles right at the Santa Monica Pier.
Why You’ll Love It: This ancient crater created by prehistoric volcanic eruptions sits right along the old Route 66 in California. An easy 3.5-mile round trip hike to and up the cinder cone offers panoramic views of the desert and lava fields. The trail is exposed, so plan your visit for winter or early spring to get the best weather.
Address: 34.560312 / -115.774688
What’s the Word: Chloe G. on Trip Advisor says, “We saw loads of interesting lizards & wildflowers. That was one of the highlights of this hike. It took us about 1.5 hours from start to return. It was scorching hot, so a hat, sunblock, and enough water is needed. The view from the top of the crater is quite pretty.”
Route 66 California Vibe Score: 8.5/10 Cool geologic features.
Nearby Campground: Stay overnight in the Amboy Crater parking lot – it’s free!
Iconic Landmark: Roy’s Cafe in Amboy
Why You’ll Love It: Originally opened in 1938, this place screams classic Route 66 charm and is perfect for your road trip photo ops. The original-style neon sign, now restored, acts as an iconic beacon to travelers. Stop for gas and grab a souvenir at this historic landmark!
Address: 87520 National Trails Hwy, Amboy, CA 92304
What’s the Word: Michael Fargo on Google Reviews says, “Very authentic place. Some would call it a dive… but that’s part of the charm with a place like this. I actually really enjoyed the stop! I pulled up to get gas, and just like the old days… the man came out to pump my gas for me! 😁
I was shocked, and then I realized what a special gem this place really is even though at first glance it seemed kinda dumpy. There’s a painted Route 66 badge in the middle of the road.”
Route 66 California Vibe Score: 9.7/10 Charming and historic little stop.
Nearby Campground: Free overnight camping is allowed in the Amboy Crater Parking Lot.
McDonald’s Museum in San Bernardino
Why You’ll Love It: A vibrant California museum, filled with art and toys from the past, takes you back to the first time you visited a McDonald’s as a kid. Truly one-of-a-kind!
Address: 1398 N E St, San Bernardino, CA 92405
What’s the Word: A recent Google reviewer wrote, “This is a MUST for anyone whose grandma took them to McDonald’s as a kid. My husband and I are products of the 80s and the playground toys are so reminiscent of our childhoods. We took a bunch of photos and we all know that those speak for themselves. This place was full of people visiting from other countries. Very cool!”
Route 66 California Vibe Score: 9.2/10 Great place for nostalgia!
Nearby Campground: Dogwood Family Campground in the San Bernadino National Forest
Calico Ghost Town in the Mojave Desert
Price: $8 for Adults, $5 for Kids (4-11), Free for kids 3 years and under
Why You’ll Love It: Founded during California’s biggest silver strike, this ghost town in California is still A hive of activity for the adventurous at heart. Calico is a State Park and home to the Mystery Shack – a crooked house where water runs uphill. Gold panning, two museums, and narrow-gauge train rides make this a fun stop for both kids and adults. Pets are welcome too!
Address: 36600 Ghost Town Rd, Yermo, CA 92398
What’s the Word: A recent Trip Advisor reviewer wrote, “We had a great time walking through the town. There are places to climb and great views. Admission is reasonable. Sarsaparilla is good. There was a staged gunfight on the street. The attractions cost extra but you don’t have to do them. And it is very dog friendly. It is a pleasant way to spend a few hours and see a picturesque part of our country.”
Route 66 California Vibe Score: 9.3/10 A hidden gem!
Nearby Campground: Calico Ghost Town Regional Park
Cucamonga Service Station
Why You’ll Love It: This restored service station, built in 1915, is now home to a Route 66 museum and souvenir shop with relics from “The Mother Road” glory days.
Address: 9670 Foothill Blvd, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
What’s the Word: Jarielys on Google Reviews says, “I think this is an awesome throw-back on Historic Route 66. The restoration looks great and brings back memories of a simpler time cruising up and down the boulevard.”
Route 66 California Vibe Score: 9.7/10 An award-winning restoration project.
Nearby Campground: Bonelli Bluffs RV Park and Campground
End of the Road at the Santa Monica Pier
Why You’ll Love It: This historical marker on the Santa Monica pier symbolizes the western end of the Main Street of America. It gives the impression of literally driving off into the west coast sunset.
Address: 330 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
What’s the Word: Paul Brown on Google Reviews says, “If you are in the LA area you owe it to yourself to come spend some time at the Santa Monica Pier. A historic and iconic place you must visit. The beaches around the Pier are beautiful and probably the best around.”
Route 66 California Vibe Score: 9.0/10
Nearby Campground: Dockweiler RV Park
Brewery: Santa Monica Brew Works
Price: $7 and up
Why You’ll Love It: Experimental brews, rotating food trucks, and a sizeable industrial-style taproom make Santa Monica’s first & only independent craft brewery a worthy stop on your Route 66 road trip. Grab a growler of their Chili Pepper Pale Ale to-go!
Address: 1920 Colorado Ave Suite C, Santa Monica, CA 90404
What’s the Word: LouEllen Trevino on Google Reviews says, “Great vibe! Enjoyed the beer and the service was impressive!”
Route 66 California Vibe Score: 8.9/10 Awesome beer selection!
Nearby Campground: Dockweiler RV Park
Joseph Filippi Winery and Historic Site of the Oldest Winery In California: Thomas Winery
Price: $10 for five pours
Why You’ll Love It: Thomas Winery was the oldest winery in California until it closed in 1980. Small businesses like a coffee shop and bar give new life to their predecessor’s historic building. Stop by for a visit to the landmark, then head off Route 66 to Joseph Filippi Winery & Vineyards to get your wine tasting fix!
Thomas Winery Site: 8916 Foothill Blvd, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Joseph Filippi Winery: 12467 Base Line Rd, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739
What’s the Word: Tyrone Waight Jr. on Google Reviews says, “This is a great local gem! Good flavors and selection of wines. The prices are very reasonable. A must visit if you’re in the area.”
Route 66 California Vibe Score: 9.2/10 Who knew California had such rich wine history?
Nearby Campground: Bonelli Bluffs RV Park and Campground (Formerly East Shore Campground)
Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino
Price: From $107/night
Why You’ll Love It: Simple, concrete teepee-shaped motel rooms from 1949 surround a small pool and make for a quirky and cozy spot to stay on your Route 66 drive through California. Kids would love it!
Address: 2728 Foothill Blvd, San Bernardino, CA 92410
What’s the Word: Philip Hess on Google Reviews says, “Fun place to stay on Route 66. Room was larger than anticipated, neat, and clean.”
Route 66 California Vibe Score: 7.7/10 Kitschy but fun vibe.
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