The US is an incredible place to explore, and if you're itching to have the ultimate American road trip experience, you can't miss out on driving down the iconic Route 66. Littered with world-famous sites, incredible cities and awe-inspiring scenery, this 2,448 mile-long stretch of road is a frequent feature on may people's bucket lists. To find out exactly why, read on.
Running across three time zones and through eight states, Route 66 stretches all the way from Chicago to Los Angeles and driving down it - with the roof down and the wind in your hair - is widely considered to be one of the most amazing American road trip holidays there is. With more than one way to drive this iconic road, you can choose between classic routes and more luxurious versions. Indeed, if you want to stay in high-class hotels and spend the night in Santa Fe, you can opt for a deluxe Route 66 holiday and do exactly that.
If you want to drive Route 66, the best time to go is generally considered to be between April and mid-October - but what exactly is it that makes this journey so appealing to travellers? First of all, the Mother Road - as it is sometimes known - is steeped in history, having been one of the first US highways and acting as a major route during the early 1900s for those migrating west. Since then - despite alterations to its path - it has become one of the US's most famous roads. What's more, it allows you to get a diverse glimpse of US life.
You will start your road trip adventure at the route's official beginning, Grant Park in Chicago, and head for St Louis. Along the way, you'll cross the historical Chain of Rocks Bridge and enjoy fantastic views of the Mississippi River before arriving in the metropolis, where you can soak up the atmosphere of the city's jazz clubs. Then, you can travel through the incredible Missouri Ozark Mountains on your way to Springfield, before travelling through Oklahoma City and on to Amarillo, Texas.
Providing a taste of the Old West, this part of the trip is sure to be a highlight for those who grew up watching westerns. As well as driving through cowboy country, you'll visit Amarillo, where the Old West and New West co-exist, with traditional ranches standing side by side with the 21st-century economy. While you're here, make sure you drive down Amarillo Boulevard, which is an original stretch of Route 66. The next part of your trail, through New Mexico, is also home to such sections of the iconic route. In fact, it has the largest stretch of original Route 66 that can be driven today.
On your way to your next destination, Albuquerque, you can visit the second-oldest city in America - Santa Fe. Take in its fantastic Southwestern Pueblo architecture before continuing on to the mountain-surrounded Albuquerque. The following day, travel to Holbrook in Arizona and see more mind-blowing sights - some of which are sure to be among the most memorable of your trip. These include the Petrified Forest National Park, which spans thousands of acres, and the Meteor Crater. The latter dates back some 22,000 years, when a meteorite hit the area and resulted in a vast crater close to a mile across scarring the landscape.
While not strictly on Route 66, who could pass by so near to the Grand Canyon without visiting? One of the Seven Wonders of the World, this is an absolute must-see - and one that cannot fail to impress. To get the best view, treat yourself to a flight over the landmark, or take a stroll on the Grand Canyon Skywalk to gaze into the abyss below your feet.
Then, drive to a wholly different attraction that could hardly provide more of a contrast - Las Vegas. See Sin City's bright lights and the famous Strip before cruising into Los Angeles and stepping into the heady realm of Hollywood. Finally, drive to Santa Monica Pier - the official end of Route 66 - and relax on the city's fantastic beaches.
If you're looking for the ultimate American road trip, or you simply what to see a varied cross-section of US culture, Route 66 holidays are perfect - and make for the experience of a lifetime.