Kingman, Arizona definitely is the heart of old historic Route 66! Route 66 runs from Chicago to Santa Monica and this scenic road meanders through many small towns in the Southwest. Every town along the way still caters to Route 66 tourism, even though the old historic Mother Road was bypassed long ago. Those who exit the high speed freeway rat race to take a cruise on old Route 66 will find a timeless cultural phenomena that can be compared to stepping into a time capsule from the past. In this case, the time capsule dates back to the golden age of automobile touring, when all that mattered was having fun and adventure while traveling across the country.
Route 66 became famous in the 1940s through the 1960s for many reasons. A mass migration from back east to California was taking place during those decades and many people followed Route 66 all the way to Los Angeles. Route 66 was the pathway to America’s vacationland and Southwestern cuisine was a new exotic fare that also lured tourists into this region. Musicians wrote songs about Route 66 and Hollywood stars gained fame on the Mother Road, which added to the charm. The big spacious classic American automobiles were the king of the road and cruising long distances while on vacation was an adventure that was not a boring tedious chore. Because of the location, Kingman became a hotbed for the Route 66 cultural scene back in the golden years and this historic town is still very much alive as a primary Route 66 destination in this modern age.
Country Western, rockabilly, blues and rock ‘n’ roll musicians all have written great songs about Route 66. Hollywood glorified Route 66 in movies and the Mother Road was even featured in famous weekly TV series. Route 66 achieved the iconic status of being an adventurous road where there is never a dull moment and it was a place where lasting memories were made. Route 66 also achieved the status of becoming a unique nostalgic Americana frame of mind. Folks still fondly look back upon Route 66 and remember James Dean, Elvis Presley, fast cars, buzzing neon motel signs, malt shops and classic drive-in burger stands. All this can still be experienced on good old Route 66 in Kingman!
There is a reason why Kingman, Arizona is the Heart Of Route 66 and the location is the key. Geographically, Kingman is one long day’s drive away from Los Angeles, so Kingman often was either the first or last stopping point for travelers on Route 66 going to or from the west coast. Back when a Route 66 alignment ran from Kingman to Oatman, Arizona, this town was a gateway to adventures along the Colorado River, Lake Havasu City and Laughlin. Kingman was also the gateway to Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Grand Canyon West. The old Peach Springs Route 66 alignment in Kingman goes to the Hualapai Village, Grand Canyon Caves, Supai and Seligman. With so much to see and do around this old town, it is easy to see why this Kingman is a tourism cornerstone.
There is plenty to see and do in Kingman, so there is good reason to plan on spending some extra time in this historic place. The Monolith Garden Hiking Trail is located in a vast recreation area next to Kingman and this is a good place to get familiar with the local terrain. Cultural experiences can be found in the many museums in Kingman and the Mojave Museum Of History & Arts is a good place to start. This local museum can be found where the historic Route 66 Strip area in Kingman begins. The Mojave Museum exhibits include Native American history, archeology, dinosaur fossils, tales of wild west, the railroad and the the history of the Arizona gold prospecting days. Of course the historical timeline of Route 66 is on display at this local museum too.
Just a few blocks east on the Kingman Route 66 Strip is where the Powerhouse Visitor Center can be found. This historic landmark was one of the very first power stations in the west and it pre-dates the hydroelectric plant at Hoover Dam. The Powerhouse is a massive old building that was recently restored and turned into a huge visitor center and museum. The Route 66 Museum, Powerhouse Historical Display, Kingman Chamber Of Commerce Wall Of Fame and the Hualapai Nation Tourism Bureau are all located inside the Powerhouse Vistor Center.
On the second floor of the Powerhouse next to the Route 66 Museum, the Hualapai Nation Tourism Bureau can be found. Kingman is the gateway to the Hualapai Grand Canyon West Skywalk, which has been a very popular local destination in recent years. The Hualapai Tourism Office is a nice convenience for tourists that plan to do the glass floor Skywalk over the Grand Canyon, because discount package deal tickets are sold here. Another cool spot inside the Powerhouse is Victoria’s Memory Lane, which is a unique gift shop caters to Route 66 souvenir hunters. Anything and everything that has to do with Route 66 nostalgia can be found in this shop!
Outside the Powerhouse is an old west locomotive exhibit that can be seen across the street. Andy Devine Avenue starts by the Powerhouse and this street is the historic Route 66 Strip where the classic motels and restaurants can be found. The Route 66 landmark Mr. D’s Route 66 Diner is nearby and this old fashioned eatery is one of the most famous restaurants in America. Oprah Winfrey actually did a TV show on location that featured Mr. D’s famous homemade root beer floats. Those who crave big portions of classic Route 66 diner food and ice cold real root beer will surely like this nostalgic diner!
It seems like dining value is something that is not a forgotten item of the past at the restaurants on Route 66. There is no such thing as overpriced tiny rip-off portions of food on Route 66, unless you dine at a modern cookie cutter chain restaurant that does not fit in with the nostalgic cool scene! Satisfaction is guaranteed at every old restaurant on this highway, especially at the traditional western steakhouses. In Kingman, the historic Route 66 landmark steakhouse happens to be the Dambar! The Dambar is a classic old west steakhouse restaurant and saloon. Wooden floors and walls, hunting trophies, paintings of the old west and wild west memorabilia create a great steakhouse atmosphere for chowing down on rich tasting western beef. Even a life size silhouette of the Duke stands next to the hostess station. The old wild west style dining experience is what places like the old Dambar Steakhouse are all about!
For some old fashioned classic Route 66 accommodations, all that a visitor has to do is drive to the old Peach Springs Route 66 alignment on the edge of town. This area is where many of the refurbished classic Kingman Route 66 motels are located. These old motels still have the big neon light marquis that lure weary tourists in and the experience at each of these motels is like stepping back in time.
When deciding on a classic summer vacation destination theme, touring historic Route 66 certainly has to be part of the travel plan! Kingman is a good Route 66 touring option, because this historic town has always been a basecamp for outdoor adventures in this region. The Route 66 cultural scene runs thick in this town, so Kingman is definitely the best place to get your kick!
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