Arizona was such a wonderful state to explore for us – it felt like it had all the classic Route 66 attractions that we were looking for from the small towns with old motels to ghost towns and of course, the amazing natural sights that you just cannot miss (and you literally can’t miss the Petrified Forest – you drive right through it, make sure you stop!). If I had to choose just one state to visit on a Route 66 road trip it would almost certainly be Arizona!
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Exploring Arizona’s Route 66 Attractions
I felt that we were really spoiled with the Arizona Route 66 attractions. Loads and loads on offer for kids, families and adults alike. Here are my favourite towns and things to see from this wonderful state while driving along Route 66:
Petrified Forest National Park
This Petrified Forest NP is gorgeous and situated right on Route 66 so no detour to find it. You can read about our time here in this post and if you want any more reasons why you should visit and fall in love with the park see our friend’s post here.
Staying in a Wigwam Motel in Holbrook AZ
I won’t lie, I was so excited about this part of the trip! Have you seen in Cars where Sally has a motel called the Cozy Cone? Well this is what it was based on, except of course these were huge wigwams!
The teepee motel was fairly basic, which was reflected in the price really – by far our cheapest night on the whole route so far, but a fantastic place to wander around and soak up the atmosphere – we were treated to the most beautiful sunset while we were exploring and taking pics of the old cars parked around outside.
The meteor crater in Arizona was another ‘must see’ for us. Truth be told there were lots of them – I am not sure we’ll be in this area again so we have to see these unique places. And where can you see a meteor crater like this? It was absolutely ginormous!
There’s a nice little museum on the site of the crater which has lots of information and exhibits to learn about space and what caused the massive hole in the ground. Don’t miss watching the movie theatre as well which shows a short film about the crater.
Standin on the Corner in Winslow Arizona
Made famous by the Eagles song ‘Takin it Easy’ is this quirky little part of the town of Winslow Arizona. We just had to have a photo opportunity of us ‘standin on the corner in Winslow Arizona!’.
Winslow was a lovely little town as well though – very small, blink and you miss it, but some nice shops and wonderful people!
Although we didn’t stop in Flagstaff, Route 66 does actually go through it and if you want a place to stop while making a detour to the Grand Canyon this might be a good place to consider (we went for Williams, below).
There are plenty of old style motels to see on the old road and one thing that I wish we’d gone to is the Lowell Observatory. The sky is amazing out in Arizona so this would be a great place for any astonomy lovers as they do tours and events there.
We based ourselves in Williams AZ for two nights as we wanted to go the Grand Canyon and it made sense to just have that as a day trip returning to the same place.
Williams was a beautiful little town – we really fell for it. Lots to see on a walk around and just a really nice vibe to the place. Certainly didn’t feel run down like many other places. On our first night there was a Corvette meet up so the whole town was overrun with cars driving down the main street – James and Marcus were in their element!
As for hotels in Williams Arizona – although it’s a chain hotel, I must recommend the Motel 6. It had good parking, was cheap, clean and was situated perfectly to just explore the town. A lot of times chain motels are situated a bit away from where you want to be – but not this one. It was really a perfect base to see the Grand Canyon on a budget.
Day trip to the Grand Canyon
Although it isn’t strictly on Route 66, we couldn’t really go this far, be so close and not go on a trip to the Grand Canyon! It’s about a 45 minute drive from Williams where we based ourselves. Read more about this trip here.
Snowcap in Seligman AZ
Seligman is a special place. Some might say it’s the original Radiator Springs on Route 66 (the town in the Disney Cars movie) and the history of the town is definitely one of the inspirations for the story. Angel Delgadillo is a barber in the town and a local celebrity. We knew of him as we’d watched one of the documentaries about the story behind Cars and were really excited to meet him. He was working and cutting someone’s hair while taking the time to chat to us. He was a super guy and I was so pleased to meet him.
Oatman ghost town gunfight and Wild Donkeys
Ever fancied watching a ghost town gunfight? How about being wild donkeys (burros) up close? You can see that all in Oatman AZ which is a ghost town that has been brought back to life for the Route 66 tourists.
It’s a bit of a drive to get there, completely off the interstate and along some very windy roads. I’d actually read about the roads and there was a bit of concern for people driving them, especially with big vehicles. I figured it couldn’t be that bad, we come from the UK where these roads are the norm, but I still remember them making my stomach churn a bit!
Beautiful views on the drive to Oatman
Oatman used to be a gold rush town – people moved in to capitalise on the gold that was around, but when it ran out so did many of the people. When Route 66 was built it kept the place alive for a while longer, but it turned in to a ghost town when it was bypassed with the Interstate.
It’s a little bit of a strange town, definitely felt a bit more run down than many other places, but perhaps that’s just because of the nature of the buildings which are actually all original. It felt like a proper wild west town and there’s even some shoot outs that take place a few times a day. There are wild burros (donkeys) all over the place too looking for food. Oatman was certainly a unique place.
Finally, if going east to West the last town you’ll see in Arizona is Kingman and it’s one that’s full of museums and visitor centres. We didn’t manage to stop here ourselves so can’t recommend from personal experience, but many people highly rate the town.
Want to read more about Route 66? Check out my other posts:
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