The 6 Best Books About Route 66 for Your Next Road Trip

Written by Katie Melynn
Published: November 14, 2022
© iStock.com/Wolfgang Gafriller

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  • The best book about Route 66 is The Best Hits on Route 66: 100 Essential Stops on the Mother Road by Amy Bizzarri
  • There are great options that highlight the best attractions, history, and eateries on this famous route.
  • Historic Route 66 goes from Lake Michigan to the Santa Monica Pier in California, with many amazing things to see along the way.

If you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way
Take the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66

Bobby Troupe’s 1946 classic said it best and the allure of the laid-back highway Route 66 has been enchanting motorists ever since. The highway was actually officially named in 1926 and covers 2,400 miles of the United States. It goes from Michigan all the way to Southern California. Route 66 goes through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

With such an epic history and span, it’s no surprise that Route 66 is a popular road trip route for those traveling through these areas. While Interstate highways have taken over as the more efficient routes, those wanting to experience some nostalgia, explore local history, or visit unique and quirky stops gravitate to Route 66.

That’s one reason that there are so many travel guides, history books, and activities surrounding road trips on Route 66. Here are some of the best books for every traveler going down Route 66.

  1. The Best Hits on Route 66: 100 Essential Stops on the Mother Road
  2. The Best Hits on Route 66: 100 Essential Stops on the Mother Road
    • 296 pages.
    • A comprehensive list of unique stops along Route 66.
    • An essential guide for all traveling Route 66.
    Check Amazon
  3. Moon Route 66 Road Trip (Travel Guide)
  4. Moon Route 66 Road Trip (Travel Guide)
    • 376 pages.
    • Features 38 maps with site-to-site mileage, driving times, and detailed directions.
    • Covers Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
    Check Amazon
  5. The Ultimate Route 66 Cookbook
  6. The Ultimate Route 66 Cookbook
    • 112 pages.
    • Contains information on roadside restaurants and chefs.
    • Easy-to-use instructions designed for cooks of all skill levels.
    Check Amazon
  7. Route 66 Coloring Book
  8. Route 66 Coloring Book
    • 24 pages.
    • Recommended for children ages 4 through 8.
    • Filled with pages to color, as well as activities like word search, mazes, and connect the dots.
    Check Amazon
  9. Greetings from Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip Back Through Time Along America's Main Street
  10. Greetings from Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip Back Through Time Along America's Main Street
    • 240 pages.
    • Chronicles the history, roadside attractions, pop culture, and ghost stories of Route 66.
    • Illustrated with art, postcards, and travel decals.
    Check Amazon
  11. Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America's Main Street
  12. Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America's Main Street
    • 384 pages.
    • A travelogue following the author and his travel companion along the entirety of Route 66, through eight states.
    Check Amazon

Best Overall: The Best Hits on Route 66: 100 Essential Stops on the Mother Road by Amy Bizzarri

Best Overall
The Best Hits on Route 66: 100 Essential Stops on the Mother Road
  • 296 pages.
  • A comprehensive list of unique stops along Route 66.
  • An essential guide for all traveling Route 66.
Check Amazon

The best book about the famous Route 66 that combines history, weird attractions, and great food is The Best Hits on Route 66: 100 Essential Stops on the Mother Road by Amy Bizzarri. It has something for everyone, with detailed itineraries that you can use to plan the ultimate road trip.

Route 66 transitioned from a major transportation conduit for goods to a route for workers to get to the West and promises of work during the Great Depression and later World War II. It rose in popularity as the Great American road trip was promoted to respond to the availability of personal automobiles.

Bizzarri’s book focuses on the heritage of Route 66, including its significance as a piece of American culture. There are fun attractions organized by location as well as interest. You can put together your own stops to see a bit of everything or use one of the pre-planned itineraries. My favorite and one of the most unique is the route for supernatural enthusiasts. There are plenty of ghost towns and spooky places that are great places to stop and snap a one-of-a-kind photo.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a food-themed itinerary, although there are restaurants included in some of the featured stops. With its path winding through so many regions of the United States, including some amazing barbecue, it would be nice to have a route planned to make the most of these gems.

Pros and Cons of The Best Hits on Route 66: 100 Essential Stops on the Mother Road

ProsCons
Unique and popular stopsNo food-themed itinerary included
Pre-planned routes and itineraries
Some lesser-known gems

Best to Plan Your Road Trip: Moon Route 66 Road Trip Travel Guide by Jessica Dunham

Best to Plan Your Road Trip
Moon Route 66 Road Trip (Travel Guide)
  • 376 pages.
  • Features 38 maps with site-to-site mileage, driving times, and detailed directions.
  • Covers Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
Check Amazon

With maps and travel times between stops, this travel guide from frequent Route 66 roadie Jessica Dunham takes all of the guesswork out of your trip. It includes 38 maps that cover the entire highway as well as some side trips to popular nearby sights.

One of our favorite features of this travel guide is how detailed the actual suggestions are. Not only is there mileage from feature to feature listed, but it also provides tips about where to fill up on gas, precautions to take during extremely hot or cold weather, and how to stay away from traffic.

The attractions included in this travel guide are closer to the mainstream. This means that you can expect larger crowds, especially during peak season. Route 66 always includes some kitsch but with many of these Instagram-worthy, you might have to fight through more people than expected to get that perfect shot.

Pros and Cons of Moon Route 66 Road Trip Travel Guide

ProsCons
Maps and travel itineraries includedHas a lot of mainstream attractions, which can be more crowded
Includes places to fill up on gas and tips to avoid traffic
Has side itineraries in major cities near Route 66

Best for Foodies: The Ultimate Route 66 Cookbook

Best for Foodies
The Ultimate Route 66 Cookbook
  • 112 pages.
  • Contains information on roadside restaurants and chefs.
  • Easy-to-use instructions designed for cooks of all skill levels.
Check Amazon

With this cookbook, you can recreate some of the most iconic dishes served up on Route 66. It includes 105 recipes that are organized by type of dish, from breakfast to light lunches and diner favorites. Most of them are nostalgic dishes that evoke the spirit of Route 66 and are on the menu at diners and cafes all along the route

A few are authentic to specific restaurants. These include some of the history behind the eatery or dish, as well as photos of the restaurant. There are also restaurants from the homes of people associated with Route 66. Throughout the book, history and trivia are woven in.

This isn’t a great option if you want something that you can take on your trip to guide you. Instead, use a travel guide and then relive the best food memories from Route 66 at home when you get back.

Pros and Cons of The Ultimate Route 66 Cookbook

ProsCons
Variety of recipesDoes not include a lot of travel tips you can use on a road trip
Recipes organized by type and meal
Includes restauarant recipes and home chef recipes

Best for Kids: Route 66 Coloring Book

Best for Kids
Route 66 Coloring Book
  • 24 pages.
  • Recommended for children ages 4 through 8.
  • Filled with pages to color, as well as activities like word search, mazes, and connect the dots.
Check Amazon

For screen-free adventures on your road trip, try out this Route 66 Coloring Book. It includes more than just coloring pages, with fun facts, history trivia, and even food that they might see along the way at one of Route 66’s famous cafes or diners.

There are coloring pages, mazes, word searches, connect-the-dots, and secret code deciphering. To make the most out of the book, we recommend copying pages so that multiple children can color or play games at the same time. It can also be helpful to separate the easier coloring pages for younger kids and the word searches and puzzles for readers.

Older kids aren’t going to get much out of this coloring book other than some relaxing distraction. It also isn’t a great option to get kids involved in planning your adventures. Instead, it will entertain them during the more mundane moments of the road trip.

Pros and Cons of The Ultimate Route 66 Cookbook

ProsCons
Includes coloring pages and puzzles for toddlers and elementary-aged kidsNot a lot of information for older kids
History, facts, and trivia woven into the activitiesDoesn’t include travel tips or itineraries that you can use before your road trip

Best for History Buffs: Greetings from Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip Back Through Time Along America’s Main Street

Best for History Buffs
Greetings from Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip Back Through Time Along America's Main Street
  • 240 pages.
  • Chronicles the history, roadside attractions, pop culture, and ghost stories of Route 66.
  • Illustrated with art, postcards, and travel decals.
Check Amazon

If you want to enjoy some vintage photos and memorabilia along with the history of Route 66, this is the book for you. The authors are Route 66 enthusiasts and state that they have gathered “the largest collection of vintage photographs, postcards, travel decals, collectibles, and other memorabilia ever amassed!”

You can browse through this time capsule that focuses on various parts of Route 66’s history, including the golden age of the Great American Road Trip. The authors include two Route 66 experts with other books published on the famed highway. There is also a photographer and a professional adventurer, who writes and takes photos of his travels.

If you are planning to travel Route 66 and have never done so before, you’ll probably need more than just this book. It will give you an idea of what you may see and the cultural significance of the highway, but it is light on practical travel tips. Instead, this is a great way to remember and reminisce about a road trip with an older relative or friend who traveled on Route 66 at the height of its popularity.

Pros and Cons of Greetings from Route 66: The Ultimate Road Trip Back Through Time Along America’s Main Street

ProsCons
Tons of illustrations and photosNot a lot of travel tips for people who have not been on Route 66
Largest collection of vintage memorabilia and photos
Great for reminiscing about past trips on Route 66

Best to Read on Route 66: Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America’s Main Street by Rick Antonson

Best to Read on Route 66
Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America's Main Street
  • 384 pages.
  • A travelogue following the author and his travel companion along the entirety of Route 66, through eight states.
Check Amazon

This book is more of a travel journal than a travel guide, making it perfect to read or listen to while you take your own journey on Route 66. In the book, author Rick Antonson drives the entire route with his friend Peter. During their trip, they share details about the history of Route 66, other anecdotes from travelers, the best place to stop, and their own adventures.

You can get this book in an easy-to-carry paperback, Kindle edition, or audiobook. We highly recommend the audiobook to really give your road trip some narration. It will feel like Rick and Peter are right in the car with you.

This book reads more like a story with history, attractions, and stories woven throughout. If you are looking for a travel guide with a detailed itinerary of what to do, this book isn’t it. If you want to listen to a story from someone who reminds you of your favorite uncle, we can’t recommend this one enough.

Pros and Cons of Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America’s Main Street

ProsCons
Tells a fascinating story with plenty of humorDoes not give detailed itineraries or travel tips to implement
Comes in an audiobook and Kindle format as well as paperback
Includes a little bit of everything

How To Choose The Best Book about Route 66

When deciding on the best book about this famed roadway, consider your plans as well as how you like to read and your interests. Let’s look at these in more detail.

Road Trip Plans

First, consider how long you have to make your road trip. If you only have a week, you may need to stick to one or two must-see attractions and spend the majority of your time driving. Longer trips can include more stops or even a detour for a nearby sight. Look for a book that includes times, gas and traffic tips, must-see attractions, and lesser-known sights. Many also weave the history of Route 66 into their itineraries.

Reading Platform

Travel guides are great in paperback because they are portable and easy to carry. History books with a lot of pictures are best in hardback or high resolution so that you can really enjoy the visuals. You should also consider a Kindle or audiobook if you plan to read while on the road. Just make sure that you keep the words to passengers-only unless using an audiobook!

Interest

Are you a food lover or does your interest stay on the history of Route 66? Either way, there is a specialized book just for you. There are also plenty of general interest books and travel guides that include a little bit of everything.

The 3 Different Types of Books about Route 66

There are different kinds of books, often shelved in different places at your bookstore or online. Some books that you may see include:

  • Travel books – Most books about Route 66 fall in this category. These are typically travel guides that help you plan your trip. But they can also include activity books, especially for kids, that highlight fun things to look for while on Route 66 as well as car games that you can play.
  • Cookbooks – Some of my favorite books about Route 66 focus on the fabulous food and eateries that pop up along the way. Cookbooks can highlight regional cuisine as well as restaurants, delis, butchers, and farmer’s markets near Route 66. There are also some that include copycat recipes if you want to recreate the most popular dishes at home.
  • History books – Route 66 has been around for almost 100 years and has seen a lot of history. These books focus on the history of its construction, how it was used as a hub for transportation, and the notable events that occurred during those many years as the United States developed. A lot of history books include photos and illustrations of the many pieces of memorabilia that survive from Route 66. They are great to look through for any history buff or someone who traveled on Route 66 back then.

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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie is a Teaching Artist with The APEX Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland and was awarded an Author Fellowship to Martha's Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She also enjoys spending time with her three kids and cat.

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