Visit the End of Route 66 in Santa Monica

Route 66 was officially decommissioned in 1985, but America’s most celebrated highway lives on in songs, movies, and the imaginations of travelers embarking on the Great-American Road Trip. In John Steinbeck’s Great Depression-era novel The Grapes of Wrath, Route 66 serves as a symbol of the euphoric highs and crushing lows of the pursuit of the American Dream. Route 66 initially stretched from Chicago to Santa Monica, near Los Angeles. A group of preservationists, recognizing the cultural significance, erected a sign at Santa Monica Pier, symbolically marking the Route 66 endpoint, offering a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean for those enchanted by the highway’s lore.

Sections of the original Route 66 have been preserved by certain states. The state of New Mexico preserved a particularly striking stretch and dubbed it a National Scenic Byway known as Historic Route 66. Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arizona also contain stretches of Historic Route 66. The United States Bicycle Route System, established in 2010, includes sections of Route 66, allowing bicyclists to ride from Chicago to Santa Monica, with stops in Joplin, Missouri; Adrian, Texas; and Gallup, New Mexico.

Visitors who have traveled Historic Route 66 and wish to celebrate the end of an eventful journey will find Santa Monica Pier an ideal location. It is home to a historic merry-go-round, an iconic Ferris wheel, a trapeze school, and a rock shop where you can purchase crystals, shells, and polished rocks. After capturing memories in front of the End of the Trail Route 66 sign, you can enjoy street performances, try your luck at the Playland Arcade, and purchase a colorful kite from L.A. Beach and Kites to fly on the beach.

No road trip to California would be complete without a visit to Santa Monica Pier. In its heyday, Route 66 was a highway of hope and opportunity for countless people. Today, Historic Route 66 showcases the stunning natural beauty and diverse landscapes of the Western United States. Spending an afternoon relaxing in the sun and frolicking in the waves at Santa Monica Pier will certainly leave you feeling like you are living one of your most cherished dreams.

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