The First Hundred Miles of Route 66 is just the start of a legendary road trip across the great state of Illinois. Join us as we explore some of the other famous photo ops, roadside relics and must-see attractions that await you further along the Mother Road. Here we highlight some of the fun stops you’ll find between Pontiac and Edwardsville.
Arcadia: America’s Playable Arcade Museum
107 S. Hamilton St., McLean
Located just off Old Route 66 in the small village of McLean, you’ll find a treasure trove of vintage arcade and pinball machines – all fully restored and ready to be played. The unassuming entertainment complex, set in converted buildings along McLean’s town square, houses a revolving selection of vintage games from the owner’s collection of over 1,500 machines. Looking to experience some period-accurate entertainment from the heyday of Route 66? Head on over to Arcadia’s Pinball Paradise building, where you’ll find over 35 vintage pinball machines ready for you to put some pocket change into. Consider spending the night at Hotel Arcadia rooms, suites or luxury units – all loaded with free-to-play arcade games.
‘Tall Paul’ - Paul Bunyon Hot Dog Statue
112 SW Arch St., Atlanta
As you pass through Atlanta, Illinois, be sure to snap a photo with the legendary “Tall Paul,” a looming 19-foot Paul Bunyon-inspired statue clutching a giant hot dog. This famous roadside attraction, one of the classic Muffler Men fiberglass titans, is similar in design to Wilmington’s retro-futuristic Gemini Giant. These molded fiberglass advertising giants, named after the mufflers the original statues held in their hands, have become a staple of Americana since their invention in the early 1960s by boatbuilder Steve Dashew and his International Fiberglass company. While thousands of these Goliath figures were scattered across the country, few remaining Muffler Men have built up the beloved fan base that “Tall Paul” has.
World’s Largest Railsplitter Covered Wagon
1750 Fifth St., Lincoln
Just down the road in Lincoln, you’ll find another larger-than-life roadside attraction: The World’s Largest Railsplitter Covered Wagon. This 24-foot-tall wooden behemoth is being driven by none other than Abraham Lincoln. Curiously, his statue is holding a book in one hand, and the wagon reins in the other, making for a humorous photo op. Located on the front lawn of the Best Western Lincoln Inn, The Railsplitter Covered Wagon is officially recognized by the “Guinness Book of World Records” as the largest covered wagon in the world. For even more flashback fun, head over to the nearby Tropics Dining Room. The classic Route 66 restaurant features a beautifully restored neon sign.
The Lauterbach Giant
1569 Wabash Ave., Springfield
The towering fiberglass statue greets visitors passing by Lauterbach Auto Service. Located just off the Mother Road in Springfield, the statue originally clutched an oversized muffler, but has been modified to hold an American flag. The famous roadside attraction is another of the Muffler Men fiberglass titans of which few remain. The Lauterbach Giant lost its head during a 2006 tornado, but was expertly repaired by the service station staff – ensuring the giant will be a fixture of Route 66 for years to come.
Original Route 66 Brick Road
At Snell and South Curran roads, Auburn
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Auburn’s beautiful 1.4-mile-long stretch of restored, hand-laid brick road is one of the few destinations along the Mother Road where you can experience what travel was like in the 1930s. Originally completed in 1931, this stretch of road has been updated to lie on a concrete roadbed, making for a smoother – but characteristically bumpy – ride that simulates the early days of Route 66 travel. The can’t miss photo-op, set against beautiful rolling country hills, is about 20 minutes outside downtown Springfield.
Henry’s Rabbit Ranch
1107 Historic Old Route 66, Staunton
Keeping the spirit of classic Route 66 roadside attractions alive, Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton is part gift shop, part folk art environment and completely devoted to celebrating the Mother Road and its history. Founded in the 1990s, the quirky stop offers highway and trucking memorabilia, a collection of VW Rabbit cars half buried in the dirt (a tribute to Amarillo, Texas’s iconic Cadillac Ranch) and dozens of real rabbits you can visit with. You’ll find a wide selection of Route 66 gifts and collectible items, along with some useful road-trip planning and tourist material. Appointments are required to tour the Rabbit Ranch, so be sure to call 618-635-5655 in advance of your visit.
Pink Elephant Antique Mall
908 Veterans Memorial Drive, Livingston
Housed in an old high school building, the Pink Elephant Antique Mall is packed floor to ceiling with unique finds from more than 50 eclectic antique dealers. Known for the eye-catching collections of roadside and throwback memorabilia, it includes a restored Uniroyal Gal statue (the female counterpart to the Muffler Men), a life-sized fiberglass elephant and one of the very few original 1960s Futuro “UFO” houses in the nation. Beyond all these fun photo-ops, you’ll find a full-service diner on site, serving up burgers, nachos, sandwiches and other refreshments. Next door, in a Twistee Treat-style building (novelty architecture shaped like an oversized ice cream cone), you’ll find plenty of delicious ice cream, candy and fudge offerings.