The Chicago-to-Los Angeles Route 66 was founded in 1926. “The Mother Road,” as John Steinbeck dubbed it in his novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” became the nation’s principal east-west artery for Depression-era migrants in search of opportunity, and a postwar generation of recreational drivers eager to explore the West. Put a recording of Bobby Troup’s "(Get Your Kicks) on Route 66" on the car stereo and hit the road to explore a few of the sights lining the Southern California leg of America’s mythical Main Street.
It takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to drive from Hollywood to the California Route 66 Museum, but it’s worth the trip. The museum has a collection of historic photographs and artifacts, a research library and a gift shop. 16849 Route 66 (corner of 6th and D streets), Victorville. Hours: Thursday-Monday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. (760) 951-0436.
Since you’re in the area, say “Happy Trails” to the King of Cowboys at the Roy Rogers-Dale Evans Museum. Photographs, awards and trophies paying tribute to the late cowboy and his wife are on display, as well as Roy’s Rose Parade saddle and fancy show wardrobe, and a stuffed and mounted Trigger. 16560 Seneca Road, Victorville. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Adults, $5; seniors and children ages 13-16, $4; children ages 6-12, $3; 5 and younger free. Parking is free. (760) 243-4547.
If you’ve still got some gas, stop on the way home for a movie at the Edwards Azusa Drive-in. For vintage atmosphere, you can’t beat the last remaining single-screen drive-in in L.A. or Orange counties, located right on Route 66. Box office opens nightly at 7:45 p.m. 675 E. Foothill Blvd., Azusa. Adults, $5; $2.50 for children 12 and under and seniors. (626) 334-0263.
Route 66 heads into Pasadena along the Rose Bowl Parade route, Colorado Boulevard. Spend the afternoon browsing the shops that line both sides of the street.
For a breather, try a malt from the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, a landmark since it opened in 1915 and a frequent stop for many a Route 66 traveler. 1526 Mission St., South Pasadena. Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. (626) 799-1414.
In the evening, Pasadena Heritage holds its annual benefit where Route 66 runs over the 1913 Colorado Street Bridge. The Route 66-themed event begins with a display of vintage automobiles and motorcycles. Participants can stroll the length of the bridge while sampling roadside dining and fountain service from local restaurants McCormick & Schmick’s, Crown City Brewery, Cobbler Factory and more. There will be jugglers, face painting, a petting zoo and crafts for kids, 6 to 8 p.m. Route 66 associations will have memorabilia for sale. Proceeds from the Celebration on Colorado Bridge will support the preservation and education programs of Pasadena Heritage. 6 to 11 p.m. The Colorado Street Bridge is located south of the 134 and 210 freeways at Colorado and Orange Grove boulevards. Adults, $15; children ages 7-12, $7. Discount prices available for advance purchases. (626) 441-6333.
In L.A., Route 66 gets lost in a jumble of freeways and overpasses. But it’s smooth sailing on Santa Monica Boulevard from Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake through West Hollywood, all the way to the bluffs in Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean. The stretch was designated “Historic Route 66" with the dedication of several road signs in 1995.
The intersection of Santa Monica and Ocean boulevards is the terminus of Route 66. Watch the sunset over the water from Palisades Park (Ocean Avenue between Colorado Avenue and Adelaide Drive), or from a patio seat at Ocean Avenue Seafood (1401 Ocean Ave., (310) 394-5669).