Every year I receive countless requests for assistance in planning an adventure on Route 666 and notes asking about our favorite restaurant, cafe, motel, or attraction. I strive to respond to each note or request.Still, toward the end of the year I post a series of lists detailing a few of our favorite places along legendary Route 66. So, today we have the first in this series, our favorites in Illinois and Missouri.
|Wagon Wheel Motel, Cuba, Missouri.|
Favorite Communities – okay, getting in trouble with this should be easy. If, however, my schedule allowed for the visit of only two towns along Route 66 they would be Cuba in Missouri and Pontiac in Illinois. Most every town along this storied highway has something wonderful to offer, even if it is an empty place like Endee or Glenrio. A few, such as Seligman, offer busy, bustling places filled with life, fun, excitement, and larger than life characters or even living legends. Cuba and Pontiac are different. They have utilized the resurgent interest in the old road to add a vibrancy, an excitement to the community without giving it a Disneyland feel. They have preserved the essence of the Route 66 experience without sacrificing or recreating the components of a thriving, non tourist based community. Cuba has a shoe store that has been in business for decades, as well as a thriving business district. Likewise with Pontiac. Of even greater importance, there is an almost tangible sense of community in each of these charming towns. Favorite Motels – this is another list that I am quite sure will generate a response.As most travelers follow the old road east to west, that is how I will present this listing. In Illinois, I would suggest the Carlinvilla Motel in Carlinville but with a caveat. This motel is clean and simple. There are no frills and without immediate attention to a few maintenance issues it is very possible that the property will not be suitable within a couple of years. Still, it is a near perfect time capsule of mom and pop motels circa 1965. As a bonus, the price is quite reasonable. In Missouri there are two properties that really stand out – the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon and the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba. Both motels are in excellent condition, both offer value for the money spent, and both are managed by proprietors with a love for the history of the motel as well as the road, and the people who travel historic Route 66.There are a number of other lodging choices of note. One that comes to mind is the Rail Haven in Springfield, a motel with a very long association to Route 66 but with the modern amenities favored by many travelers.
Favorite Places to Eat – this is tough as we really enjoy sampling the offerings of mom and pop shops on our travels. There are a number of good places to eat as well as some excellent ones, like Shelly’s in Cuba. However, there are are only a couple that I would have to rate as outstanding. Two of our favorties are in Illinois, the Palms Grill in Atlanta, and the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield. Every effort should be made to have at least one meal at these restaurants. On Thursday, I will continue with our list of favorites in Ilinois as well as Missouri. I will also share a couple of menu suggestions from our favorite restaurants.