Ninety-six years ago on April 30th, one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System was assigned its numerical designation of 66, creating what we know today as Route 66. But to say Route 66 is just a highway is a grave understatement. After all, it is the most-searched U.S. highway of all time.
One of the perks of working as a Doodler (I promise, it’s a real job) was getting to drive the 2,448-mile journey from Chicago to Los Angeles in my ‘72 Chevelle. I got to experience this captivating road trip firsthand, to create a Doodle celebrating Route 66.
This Doodle, which is essentially an animated sketchbook of various historic spots along the route, is the product of more than 100 paintings and sketches I created from the side of the road and countless U-turns. I remember being utterly lost one day, driving further and further down an old dirt road, when I finally saw an old man sitting on a lawn mower. “Is this Route 66?” I enquired. “Boy, this isn’t even Route 6!” he responded. Even the dead ends were interesting.
If this Doodle has you feeling inspired to take a trip across Route 66, we also caught up with a member of Google Maps’ Local Guides community who has some tips of his own to help you hit the road and explore.
Local tips from a Local Guide
Rhys Martin is a Level 6 Local Guide from Tulsa, Oklahoma who also serves as the President of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association. Having driven all 2,400 miles of the existing route, Rhys is passionate about adding photos and reviews to Google Maps that help raise awareness for the variety of experiences — from big cities and rural communities, to farmland, mountains, deserts, mom-and-pop motels and kitschy roadside attractions — a road trip down the historic highway provides. We asked him to share his best tips, tricks and recommendations to discover and experience his favorite spots along the route.
- Discover local businesses along the route: By searching for something like “U.S Route 66 Restaurants” on Google Maps you can virtually explore restaurants or other businesses across all eight states along the route. This way, you can familiarize yourself with attractions, view how much certain restaurants cost, read reviews and even see popular menu items to help you choose places you want to visit.
- Plan your road trip with Lists in Google Maps: Once you discover the places you’re interested in visiting, save them to a list that can serve as an itinerary so you can support local businesses — and help preserve history – along the route. You can even share your list with others, or make them collaborative so you can plan together!
- A picture is worth a thousand words: Photographing the details of a place — like the decades-old neon signage or the original menus hanging behind the counter — and sharing them through reviews on Google Maps helps capture the essence of an establishment and helps others discover places they want to visit.
While Oklahoma has the most drivable miles of Route 66, Rhys says there’s so much to see in all eight states along the route. If you’re itching to plan the perfect summer road trip, check out a list of his must-see spots across Route 66 from Illinois to California.