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JAN-FEB 2017

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BY GABI LOGAN 40 J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 7 F ew states have more Route 66 attractions than Illinois, which has nearly 300 miles of the iconic highway. Today, visitors can see several portions of the original route, in- cluding a short section of the original red-brick road just north of Auburn, off Route 4. e Mother Road begins or ends, depending on your group's starting point, in front of the Art Institute of Chicago on Michigan Avenue. Many groups celebrate their journey at the classic American diner Lou Mitch- ell's on Jackson Boulevard. Serving breakfast and lunch on a cash-only basis, it's been in business since 1923. Another noteworthy eatery just outside of the city, Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket, has served fi nger-licking fried chicken since 1938. About 90 minutes from Chicago in Odell, the Standard Oil Gas Sta- tion no longer sells gasoline but serves as a welcome center with daily tours. e station is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and its old-fashioned gas pump and Standard Oil sign hanging from the roof look ready to serve the next customer. Quintessential Pontiac celebrates the Mother Road in several of its 24 murals painted on downtown buildings. e Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum, sponsored by the Route 66 Association of Illinois, displays his- tory of the entire route and unique memorabilia. For nearly 40 years, Bob Waldmire traveled Route 66 and created artwork depicting scenes along the way. In the museum parking lot, groups can tour his tricked- out school bus that he used as a home, an art gallery, a library and trans- portation. e city's Oakland Automobile Museum on the courthouse square is also worth a stop. e town of Towanda off ers a pedestrian walk on an old alignment of Route 66; it's lined by information posts depicting each of the route's eight states. Tourists can buy maple syrup at Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup store where a full-production syrup operation existed even before Route 66 was constructed. e popular, giant Muffl er Man in Atlanta, Illinois, still holds an enormous hot dog in his hands, and across the street, Palm's Café and Grill serves blue-plate specials and delicious pie on tables graced with funky plastic palm trees. e corn dog was invented at Springfi eld's Cozy Dog Inn, which makes a welcome stop before crossing into Missouri. At the state line, pedestrians and cyclists can cross Madison's Chain of Rock Bridge, which features a slight curve suspended over the Mississippi River. W W W . E N J O Y I L L I N O I S . C O M — NEXT EXIT AMERICA ROUTE 66 GETS BETTER WITH AGE Photos courtesy Illinois Offi ce of Tourism Lou Mitchell's Restaurant Original brick road portion of Route 66 Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket ILLINOIS 66 R O U T E BY ELIZABETH HEY B efore air travel became commonplace, Ameri- cans' love of the open road was spurred on by Route 66, one of the nation's original highways. Be- ginning in Chicago, the 2,448-mile route originally crossed Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica, California. is American icon recently cel- ebrated its 90th birthday and con- tinues to take travelers on a nostal- gic American journey. Driving Route 66

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