By the time you cruise Route 66 into Oklahoma, you can already consider yourself a hardened road warrior, even though the midpoint of the journey isn't until the western half of the Texas Panhandle. You'll no doubt have eaten plenty of diner burgers, taken pictures at countless neon signs, and spent hours pounding the pavement. But no matter if you're at a little cafe, a museum, or a restored service station, you're sure to get a warm welcome from Oklahomans and Texans. That's one thing that remains constant along the Route: The unfailing passion of the people who maintain these icons, and the enthusiasm of other travelers along the way.
Our first stop is Clanton's Cafe, the oldest continually-owned family restaurant in the state of Oklahoma. This special spot has been passed down in the Clanton family for generations, and is still serving up delicious home-cooked meals. Most known for chicken, Clanton’s cooks it every which way. Grilled, fried, fried with steak, served with dressing; any way you want it, Clanton's has it. Be sure to add an order of Calf Fries, as well!
One of the most famous attractions along Route 66, the Blue Whale of Catoosa has become a highly-esteemed stop for anyone passing through Oklahoma. The whale, which was built by Hugh Davis back in the 1970s as a gift for his wife, sits on a public pool surrounded by beautiful trees. Visitors can walk through the whale's mouth, slide out his side, or jump off the back of his tail. A fun spot for both kids and adults, if you visit in winter, you might find the whale adorned with lights like a Christmas tree!
What makes Rock Cafe so unique, besides the food, is what the food is made on. The same grill that was cooking burgers and steaks in 1939 when Rock Cafe first opened is the same grill used today. Endearingly named Betsy by the staffers, this special grill weighs over 200 pounds and has cooked more than five million burgers. Ordering a burger from Rock Cafe is like ordering a piece of history.
One of the largest collections of soda in the world, POPS Soda Ranch is perfect for anyone looking to grab a refreshing drink and try something new. With over 600 different sodas from around the world, you can try flavors like pineapple, spicy, and pickle. And if you make it there as the sun is going down, grab a seat on the patio and watch as the 66-foot-tall soda sculpture puts on a dazzling light show.
Open 24 hours, the Quality Inn & Suites in Oklahoma City is the ideal destination for roadtrippers and travelers coming from any direction. The rooms are large and comfortable, and you can take advantage of the free hot breakfast before hitting the road again. Click here to book your stay.
If you want to see what an authentic 1920s, two-story gas station actually looked like, then Lucille's is the place to visit. Lucille's Famous Gas Station doesn't actually serve gas anymore, but it's worth stopping by to see the original gas pumps and snap a quick photo.
There's a reason it's called the Main Street of America—Route 66 has become synonymous with American independence and freedom. And the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum aims to capture that spirit. Many visitors leave this museum with a new appreciation for the iconic road, and a much better understanding of its history and significance. The building itself is a worthy piece of architecture, as are all the cars, signs, and maps inside. Entry to the museum costs $5 for adults, and features both admission to the standard exhibits, as well as special rotating displays which change regularly.
Jiggs Smoke House has come a long way since 1978, when the only things on the menu where ham and turkey sandwiches (and no condiments other than butter). Now, the famous sandwich stop offers a variety of sandwiches, sides, jerkys, and sauces. All meats are smoked and cooked on-site using years of family tradition and technique. Try the BBQ beef sandwich or the massive Wooly burger if you're feeling extra daring. But don't bother asking for lettuce, tomato, or even a real plate (the meat speaks for itself here).
If you couldn't tell by now, Oklahoma is extremely proud of Route 66 and its heritage. In addition to the Oklahoma-specific museum, the state is also home to the National Route 66 Museum. This museum houses artifacts, historical documents, and rare collections from all eight states through which the Mother Road travels. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, the museum offers free parking for cars and RVs.
Once you cross the border into Texas, the U-Drop Inn is there to welcome you. This unique building, designed by architect J. C. Berry, was actually inspired by the image of a nail stuck in soil. But what was created is much more stunning. The pillars and colors make this a building unlike anything you’ve seen before. What was once a famous hotel (Elvis was rumored to have stayed here) is now home to the local chamber of commerce. Visitors are always welcome to stop by, enjoy free coffee, and take a picture.
A series of brightly painted VW Bugs make up the VW Slug Bug Ranch. Lined up right along the highway, six old Bugs have been dug into the ground as an artistic tribute to the nearby Cadillac Ranch. Feel free to get inside one of the cars for a picture, and don't forget to write your name!
They say everything is bigger in Texas, including the steak. And at The Big Texan Steak Ranch, you can order a 72-ounce steak as part of their "72-Ounce Challenge." The entire steak, plus a complete set of sides, must be eaten in one hour. But if you're looking for something a little less competitive, the Ranch offers a wide range of steaks, cuts, and sides, as well as a full bar. This entire place, from the exterior to the food to the staff, sums up Texas spirit.
If you're at MidPoint Cafe, then you're also exactly halfway through Route 66. One way takes you back to Chicago, the other takes you straight to Los Angeles. While you think back on (or look forward to) your trip, stop by the cafe for a celebratory slice of "ugly" pie. Completely homemade, with one of the best, most buttery crusts you'll ever eat, there are usually a rotation of six different pies available. The house specialty is a chocolate chip pecan pie that tastes like a giant chocolate chip cookie.
While Route 66 may be one continuous road, it's clear to see that the places and restaurants along the way have been shaped by their respective states. Along this stretch of the great highway, you'll be rewarded with a true sense of what Oklahoma and Texas have to offer.
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