Route 66 conjures up thoughts of rich history, soda fountains, neon lights, classic cars, and fun! Only in Williams, Arizona will you find a stretch of Route 66 with shopping, dining, lodging, and cowboy action- fun for the whole family. Route 66 is an experience, a feeling, a perception, a taste of sight & sound, and a mystery that can only be resolved by driving the pavement itself.
The “super-highway”, as it was thought of in 1926, represented unprecedented freedom to travel across the American West. The original paved highway was a narrow two-lane road (slightly wider than one lane of a modern highway) that spanned over 2,300 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Long Beach, California.
Route 66 had great stretches of scenic open road that connected the small towns along the way. In those days of a more relaxed pace to life, the two main streets of Williams became east bound & west bound Route 66 and a new kind of hospitality began to grow. Diners, motor hotels, and shops featuring local souvenirs opened as travelers discovered Williams as a place to visit before the Grand Canyon and a great place to land after a visit to the Canyon. Some of those same motor hotels from back in the day have been revitalized with all the comforts modern travelers expect and the storefronts of Main Street are preserved as a designated National Historic District.
66 Things to do in Williams, Arizona, home to the best preserved stretch of Route 66!
Route 66 will be forever engrained in the American pop culture thanks to John Steinbeck who proclaimed the highway as “Mother Road” in his classic 1939 novel Grapes of Wrath. Then in 1946 Bobby Troup wrote the popular song, “Get your kicks on Route 66,” solidifying the “Mother Road” as an American symbol for freedom, opportunity, and modernization of the nation.
Changing lifestyles in the 1980’s saw the development of the interstate highway system. I-40 became the main route through the southwest Route 66. Williams became the last Route 66 community to be by-passed by the new interstate on October 13, 1984.
Although Route 66 may not appear on many maps today, the nostalgia and spirit of a bygone era lives on here in Williams, Arizona. Soda fountains, diners, quirky hotels, classic automobiles, and unique shops line the Mother Road just as it was back in the day. With its preservation of an authentic small town atmosphere and history, Williams is the perfect place to “Get your kicks on Route 66” before you visit the Grand Canyon and after!