In the age of social media, a picture is no longer just worth a thousand words — it’s a passport to likes and shares. With this in mind, Heritage Corridor Destinations, a regional tourism board, rolled out a series of Route 66 shields to provide visitors with the perfect Instagrammable Spots on Route 66.
These shield sculptures were created and placed in communities along the first hundred miles of Route 66, including Burr Ridge, Joliet, Wilmington, Dwight, Pontiac, and others. Stop at one — or all eleven — and collect the whole set for the perfect Instagram reel.
“Route 66 Begins” Sign
Location: Adam Street and Michigan Avenue
It all starts here. There is no better way to commemorate the mother of all road trips than the Route 66 Begins sign in downtown Chicago. Half a block from one of many museums on Route 66, the Art Institute of Chicago is a starting line for photo ops on this 2,448-mile (3,940 km) journey into nostalgia.
The Bean at Millenium Park
Location: 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago
It would be hard to begin this road trip without an iconic mirrored image in front of Cloud Gate, a large reflective sculpture colloquially known by the affectionate name “The Bean.”
Location: 1376 Joliet Rd, Romeoville, IL
White Fence Farm offers family entertainment and a home-style dining experience served to guests in one of ten uniquely decorated dining rooms. You’ll know you have arrived when you spot the standing rooster outside.
Location: 15W400 Harvester Dr, Burr Ridge, IL
Harvester Park is a children’s playground designed as a trip down Route 66, featuring iconic roadside attractions from all eight states the road passes through. The landmarks are reimagined with play in mind, from a tall slide in the shape of the Willis Tower to the iconic Blue Whale.
Joliet Prison Historic Site
Location: 1125 Collins St, Joliet, IL
Stand in front of the most famous prison gates of Blues Brothers fame; it's where the brothers reunited after spending time in prison. Then, take a walking tour to learn about the prison's history, from when it was first opened in 1858 to today. True to its historic legacy, the Old Joliet Prison was built with Joliet limestone and housed over 20 buildings inside its walls.
Rialto Square Theatre
Location: 102 N Chicago Street, Joliet, IL
Soon to be celebrating its 100th anniversary, the Rialto Square Theatre (also known as the “Jewel of Joliet”) is a historic vaudeville venue and movie theatre. Considered to be one of the most beautiful theaters in the nation, the marquee will be what you want to see and commemorate. Shiny and bright, it lights up at night!
Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66
Location: 9 W Cass St, Joliet, IL
You won’t be able to miss the twenty-four-foot-tall guitar outside The Illinois Rock & Roll Museum on Route 66! This brand-new museum exists to preserve the history of musicians and bands with ties to Illinois (Chicago, Cheap Trick, Muddy Waters & REO Speedwagon — all Hall of Fame inductees) while educating visitors about the rich history of music.
Where Route 66 Meets The Lincoln Highway
Location: The intersection of Chicago and Cass Streets, Joliet, IL
The city of Joliet, Illinois, has long been known for being the location where two historic roads intersect: Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway. At the intersection stands a 7-ft marker. The Lincoln Highway spans 3,389 mi (5,454 km) from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco and predates Route 66 by more than a decade.
The First Hundred Miles Welcome Center
Location: 204 N Ottawa St, Joliet, IL
You will find the Route 66 shield for Joliet in front of the Welcome Center and Joliet Area Historical Museum. The First Hundred Miles Welcome Center is full of Route 66 souvenirs and even gifts by Illinois craftsmen. You can also view two movie-worn Blues Brothers suits in the museum lobby, which is another wonderfully Instagrammable opportunity!
The Gemini Giant
Location: 810 E Baltimore St, Wilmington, IL
The Launching Pad Drive-In (temporarily closed) is the home of the Gemini Giant. Standing 30 feet tall, the Gemini Giant is a space-age “Muffler Man” and one of just a few still standing on Route 66. Since 1964, he’s been watching travelers with his bright green suit and silver rocket in hand.
Location: 222 N Front St, Braidwood, IL
Stand beside Superman or Betty Boop for a fun photo op. The Polk-A-Dot Drive-In is a nostalgic 1950s-style roadside diner known for burgers, malts, and ice cream. From their iconic sign to the retro interior and selfie-worthy pop culture statues outside, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time.
Location: 400 E. Amazon St, Gardner, IL
A prime example of the vintage roadside kitsch that once peppered Route 66, the Braidwood Zoo features a menagerie of animal sculptures built by the late artist Jack Barker. Using scrap metal, wood, and plastic, this quirky little pseudo-zoo keeps all the animals together for the perfect Instagrammable memory on your Route 66 road trip.
Ambler-Becker Texaco Station
Location: W Waupansie St, Dwight, IL
This historic 1933 filling station was the longest-operating gas station along Route 66. Now, it serves as Dwight’s Welcome Center along Route 66. Stop and chat with the knowledgeable volunteers, marvel over the artifacts preserved in the filling station, and don’t forget to sign the guestbook and put a pin in the maps on the wall. There is a Route 66 shield and an old-style billboard for the perfect Instagram opportunity.
Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum
Location: 110 W Howard St, Pontiac, IL
There are plenty of photo ops just outside the museum, featuring the largest painted Route 66 shield mural on the side of the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame and Museum. This museum features thousands of Route 66 artifacts and memorabilia, including Route 66 artist and icon Bob Waldmire’s bus and van.
Murals on Mainstreet
Location: Downtown Pontiac, IL
A collection of 19 outdoor murals around the historic downtown was created in four days during the Walldog Summer Bash 2009. These vignettes will remind you of a Norman Rockwell version of America in the 20th century. Plenty of opportunities exist to pose with these murals to blend in with the story.
Pontiac-Oakland Auto Museum
Location: 205 N Mill St, Pontiac, IL
There is an abundance of Pontiac and Oakland car models for the perfect car selfie at this auto museum, but you can also find the 15 miniature cars that have been decorated in various styles by local artists and art groups here. There are ten ‘57 Chevys and three pickup trucks.
Bunyon’s Statue: Hot Dog Muffler Man
Location: 112 SW Arch St, Atlanta, IL
Look for the Hot Dog Muffler man or Paul Bunyon statue holding a hot dog in downtown Atlanta, IL. It was moved here from its original location 150 miles away in Cicero, IL. Not originally on Route 66, it has become a welcome selfie addition for travelers on the Mother Road.
The Railsplitter Covered Wagon
Location: 1750 Fifth St, Lincoln, IL
Recognized as the World’s Largest Covered Wagon, the Railsplitter and its driver, Abe Lincoln (yes, the famous one), welcomes visitors throughout the year. You will feel like a small child standing beside this imposing wagon. It's the perfect Route 66 photo op!
Brooks Catsup Bottle
Location: 800 S. Morrison, Collinsville, IL
Although this “bottle” has served as a water tower for the catsup maker since it was built in 1949, today, it marks one of the city’s unique Route 66 attractions. You may have to wander off the Route 66 trail to find it, but it’s worth the detour.