First Hundred Miles

Start your Route 66 trip at the Art Institute of Chicago

World class art just steps away from start of The First Hundred Miles

Before you begin your trip on the Mother Road, pay a visit to another icon: the Art Institute of Chicago. Conveniently located across from the historic starting point of Route 66, this bucket list-worthy museum boasts thrilling special exhibits and a fantastically large and revered permanent collection, featuring such significant works as Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and Georges Seurat’s masterpiece “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”

Flanked by its famous bronze lions, one of the most popular outdoor photo-ops in Chicago, the AIC was founded in 1879 as both a museum and school. With over 300,000 works of art, we guarantee you’ll find many familiar masterpieces at every turn.

From Rembrandt to Warhol, from Magritte to Mesopotamian statues, there’s something for every member of your family to enjoy at the Art Institute of Chicago. And admission is free for all Illinois residents on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays through March 17.

To reserve your tickets, pay a visit to and purchase your fast pass. The AIC’s great location on Chicago’s lakefront offers quick and affordable bus service with easy access to other museums, attractions and Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile – complete with world-class shopping and dining. Take advantage of the convenient underground parking near the AIC, and plan a full day to explore the city before starting your road trip

Free Winter Weekdays 2023 for Illinois Residents

Admission is free for Illinois residents on weekdays (Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays) Jan 9 – Ma. 24, 2023.

If you reserve your free tickets online in advance, your resident status will be verified using the zip code associated with the billing address provided. If you’re unable to reserve tickets in advance, please stop by the admissions desks on the day of your visit for assistance.

The Art Institute of Chicago is at 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. For more information, go to