At some point in the past 80 years or so most everyone who has traveled from east to west, or west to east, by car, truck, or bus has passed through, broken down, or stopped for dinner in Kingman at least once. It is one of a handful of towns forever immortalized in the classic Route 66 anthem penned by Bobby Troup, and first carried to the top of the music charts by Nat King Cole.
It sits dead center in what I humbly think is the most scenic segment of Route 66 found anywhere between Chicago and Santa Monica. A hundred and fifty mile drive in any direction is all that is needed to experience the wonders of the Grand Canyon, at three different locations, the casino lights of Las Vegas or Laughlin, the truly awe inspiring wonders of Supai, world class skiing, caverns, pine forested trails, white water rafting, miles upon miles of bicycle and hiking trails, ghost towns, and fine dining.
So, why is Kingman a stop on the way to somewhere instead of a destination? That, my friends, is a question I have tried to answer for years.
While I wait for the world to discover Kingman, I will continue to extol its charms, unravel its history, and share with the world stories from one of the most overlooked destinations on Route 66. With that lengthy preamble as an introduction, I would like to introduce you to a few more of my favorite overlooked sites on Route 66, and those found with the slightest of detours.
Okay, if you can’ afford lodging in Santa Monica, and don’t mind a bit of a commute through stunning landscapes, my suggestion is the Good Night Inn in Calabassas, a surprisingly rural community in the Santa Monica Mountains along U.S. 101. When on business in the area of Burbank or the western metropolis area, this is always our haven.
Clean, reasonable, lodging (last stay $65.00 including tax), walking distance to stores, and a short drive to excellent restaurants, would be reason enough to make the detour. As added incentive there is the morning drive to Santa Monica via Topanga or Malibu Canyon, two of the top drives in the LA area.
As a bonus, during the months of summer there is an excellent farmers market on weekends in the city complex parking lot in Malibu. This is just a few blocks off of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Attractions of note abound in the LA area. However, I have three that rate at the very top of our list; the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, south of Santa Monica, a museum where you can actually go for a ride in the wide array of vintage vehicles on display, the Peterson Museum, and Auto Books Aero Books on Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Porto’s Bakery and Cafe on Magnolia Boulevard west of the book store. Crowded, always, superb and unique foods at reasonable prices, always.
Another great Route 66 detour, less than 25 miles, is found by taking state highway 138 west from Cajon Junction in Cajon Pass. Wrightwood is a community nestled among the pines and towering mountains that would not seem out of place in Bavaria.
As we continue east on Route 66, my next “must see” suggestion would be Goffs. Stranded on a pre 1931 alignment of Route 66, this little town that is now less than a wide spot in the road has an amazing and interesting history that is preserved in one of the top museums on Route 66.
Okay, you have braved the desert heat and are looking for just a bit of respite as you pull into Kingman. Did you know that fine dining, majestic landscapes, pine scented breezes, and deep forest are less than twenty miles south of town on a paved road?
Hualapai Mountain Park and Hualapai Mountain Lodge have to top the list of most overlooked, and most surprising attractions in Kingman. Did I mention that lodging is also available or that it ranges from simple motel room at the lodge to rustic stone cabins amongst the pines?
I suppose at this juncture, before signing off for the day, I should mention that winter is an ideal time for desert exploration.