What do you call a town that is linked to Route 66 because it was named in a song that reminded us to not forget Winona, because it has an original Bob Waldmire mural, and because it was the primary location for the 1984 movie Roadhouse 66 starring Willem Dafoe and Judge Reinhold?
What do you call a town that has public arts displays created by internationally acclaimed artists such as J. Anne Butler, J.C. Amberlyn and Donald Gialanella? What do you call a town that has a connection to an array of celebrities including Pamela Anderson, Charles Linbergh, Amelia Earhart, Bob Hope, Clark Gable, Carol Lombard, Andy Devine, Louis L’Amour, Bob Boze Bell, Johnny Depp, Edsel Ford, Louis Chevrolet, and Harrey Carey?
What do you call a town that has an historic district bisected by Route 66? What do you call a town with an historic district framed by snow capped mountains and a skyline dominated by towering buttes and mesas that is lit by towering neon signs? What do you call a town that has an historic district filled with an array of eclectic shops and restaurants, architectural treasures, award winning microbreweries, and shade dappled parks ideally suited for festivals?
What do you call a town with a network of critically acclaimed scenic hiking/mountain biking trails that link picturesque desert oasis, historic sites, awe inspiring scenic overlloks, and deeply shadowed canyons? What do you call a town with a pine forested mountain park, and a desrt labryinth of stone spires aptly named Monolith Gardens?
What do you call a town with an award winning distillery, an award winning bakery, wineries and a classic 1950s Route 66 diner? What do you call a town that can offer the gastronomic delights of wood fired gourmet pizza, superb traditional Mexican food, authentic Italian cuisine, and delicious barbecue all within four blocks?
What do you call a town with an electric vehicle museum and one of the largest classic car shows in northern Arizona? What do you call a town that has one of the last free standing territorial era jails in the state, a WWII military airfield, and links to Native American history and culture?
You call it Kingman, Arizona. You call it a town full of surprises. You call it one of the most overlooked destinations in the southwest. An according to blogger Linda Suskie, “Kingman, Arizona, bills itself as “the heart of Historic Route 66,” and there’s plenty to see here.”
Kingman is also my hometown. And it is the home base for Jim Hinckley’s America. That is rather fitting as our stock in trade is telling people where to go and sharing America’s story.
The next time you motor east, or west, on legendary Route 66, take some time for more than gas, grub, and a quick stop at the Powerhouse Visitor Center. Kingman is well worth taking some time for exploration.
Start at the historic depot and use the narrated self guided historic district walking tour to discover what makes this a town full of surprises. Enjoy a stunning sunset and wait for the colorful glow of neon to transform the historic heart into a magical place where the line between past and present is blurred.