Route 66 Daily Roundup – Leg 1

Route 66 Matt Illinois

Welcome to my Route 66 Daily Roundups. Throughout the course of my cross-country adventure with Marriott International and vehicle sponsor Nissan USA, I will be sharing the highlights from each leg of the trip. To see all of the Daily Roundups please click here.

To read about the inspiration for this epic drive, please check out this post.

Day 1: Chicago to Springfield, Illinois

It’s a funny thing when years of planning are all distilled to one day, but that’s exactly where I found myself this morning as we hit the road on Day 1 of our Route 66 adventure. It was surreal but I instantly forgot about all that as I figured my way through Chicago. Route 66 isn’t the easiest road to drive because it doesn’t exist anymore. Luckily, there are plenty of excellent guides out there to help travelers find their way along historic Route 66. It’s amazing the sights that pop up when you’re not traveling the major highways and almost right away I discovered the version of America I’ve been looking for all of these years.

One thing I noticed today was how nearly every small town along the route in Illinois has firmly embraced Route 66. Gift shops, museums, visitors centers, the entire day was one Route 66 site after another. There were a few highlights though. Joliet in particular was a nice surprise and the perfect first introduction to the mania that is Route 66. Not only throughout Joliet, but through all of Illinois, the route is well marked and even features stops highlighting important features along the way. In Joliet that meant a visit to the Joliet Area Historical Museum, which naturally features the Mother Road but also the impressive history of the city. Some other highlights today included:

  • Our first two giant statues of the trip, the Gemini Giant and Paul Bunyan (with a hotdog)
  • The Route 66 Hall of Fame in Pontiac
  • Amazing pork chop sandwiches at the Old Log Cabin Restaurant
  • Fantastic sights in Towanda, Lincoln and Atlanta

The Nissan Armada Platinum has been the ideal SUV for the trip, from the comfortable seats to the tech integration, it’s been a fun truck to drive. Plus I can easily listen to all of my tunes, which has made the drive a lot of fun. As you know, Marriott International is the sponsor of the trip and at the end of the first day I was happy to relax at the Residence Inn in Springfield. Featuring large rooms with separate living areas and kitchens, it was just what I needed after a long day of driving. Plus they even had a complimentary taco and wine happy hour, which was a nice surprise.

Even after one day, I know that this drive is everything I’d hoped it would be and there’s still so much more to see!

Please remember to follow along on Instagram Stories and let me know if you have any questions!

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

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