You’re not the only one doing it for the ‘gram. Earlier this year, Hertz surveyed British travelers, asking them which road trips were the most Instagram-worthy in the world. Guess which one nabbed the top spot? Route 66. The 2,448-mile adventure from Chicago to Santa Monica is chock-full of sights—from kitsch Americana to stunning natural landscapes—that tempt photographers from all over. Here are a few of my favorite Route 66 photo ops.
1. Cloud Gate, Chicago, IL
Affectionately known as “the bean,” this stainless steel sculpture is selfie central. You’ll find it in Chicago’s Millennium Park, usually with a crowd of tourists surrounding it. Angle your camera just right and you’ll capture the city’s famous skyline in the sculpture’s mirror-like surface.
2. Muffler Man, Atlanta, IL
He’s strong. He’s stoic. He’s 20 feet tall and he’s holding a hot dog. Meet the Muffler Man, a towering fiberglass statue watching over the small town of Atlanta. During Route 66’s heyday, dozens of these statues dotted the highway, acting as eye-catching advertisements for businesses.
3. Blue Whale, Catoosa, OK
Where else can you snap a pic from inside the mouth of a whale? This pipe-and-concrete structure in the shape of a friendly-faced whale stretches over a tranquil pond; in the 1970s, it served as a dock and diving board for the once-popular swimming hole.
4. Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX
You can’t miss Cadillac Ranch. This public art installation celebrates the Mother Road’s car culture in a surreal way: 10 big-finned Cadillacs stick straight up from the ground, noses buried in a wheat field and the Texas horizon looming beyond.
5. Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, NM
Retro neon signs abound on Route 66, and this is one of the best. The Pixar film Cars even featured Blue Swallow’s “100% Refrigerated Air” slogan in the movie’s Cozy Cone Motel sign.
6. Abandoned Shell Station, Tucumcari, NM
After the Mother Road’s decommission in 1985, many of the businesses along Route 66 were forced to shutter their doors. Today you’ll encounter abandoned storefronts, empty gas stations, and weathered signs—frozen-in-time relics of Route 66’s past.
7. Standin’ on the Corner Park, Winslow, AZ
There’s no better on-the-road photo than that of the Route 66 sign painted on the pavement at this Arizona spot made famous by The Eagles song, “Take It Easy.”
8. Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, AZ
This 1950s motel is made for Instagram. The perky teepees stretching skyward, vintage cars in the parking lot, and a neon sign that blinks all night. If you arrive at dusk, capture the glow of the Arizona sunset, a perfect photo backdrop.
9. Roy’s Motel & Café, Amboy, CA
The Googie-style sign of Roy’s pops against Death Valley’s bleak landscape, and its bold colors and geometric lines beg to be photographed.
10. End of the Trail, Santa Monica, CA
On the busy Santa Monica Pier that juts out over the Pacific Ocean, proud Route 66’ers clamor for a selfie in front of this sign. Proof of an epic journey now concluded.