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The Best Route 66 Towns in Arizona

Route 66, often celebrated in songs and movies, is a timeless American icon. Known as Main Street of America or the Mother Road, it epitomizes the classic Old Times charm. Arizona’s Route 66 towns, particularly Williams, Flagstaff, Seligman, and Hackberry, are our favorites for their vintage ambiance and spirit. Driving through these towns on the nostalgic Route 66 offers a journey back in time. Join us for an unforgettable trip on Route 66 towns in Arizona and experience the charm of the past!

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Route 66 Arizona: A wooden colorful building with standing mannequins and the Route 66 sign.

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

U.S. Route 66, also known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was once among the most famous highways in the United States.

Established on November 11, 1926, it stretched from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, ending in Santa Monica, California, covering 2,448 miles.

During the 1930s, Route 66 was a vital path for westward migration, sparking business growth along its stretch. The road’s fame inspired Bobby Troup to write the song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” in 1946, turning it into an anthem for the highway. The 1960s saw Route 66 featured in a popular TV series, embodying themes of adventure and change.

However, by the 1980s, Route 66’s allure waned with the advent of the Interstate Highway System, which led to bypassed towns and declining businesses. This sparked local efforts to preserve and commemorate the historic Route 66, keeping its legacy alive.

So, when traveling around Arizona, do not miss the most attractive towns on the old Route 66: Williams, Flagstaff, Seligman, and Hackberry. Chris and I visited each of those towns several times, and we love them.

TRIP TIP: If you are planning a vacation in Arizona, check out our ready-to-go 14-days Arizona Itinerary with lots of tips and detailed info! Moreover, we have a detailed and free Arizona Photo&Travel Guide, where you can find the most exciting & must-see places in Arizona and useful hints for trip planning.

signs on the street.
Best Route 66 Towns Arizona: entrance and sign to world famous sultana bar.
Best Route 66 Towns Arizona: the entrance to the black cat bar.

The best Route 66 Towns in Arizona – Williams

Williams, Arizona, holds a special place in our hearts as one of the top Route 66 towns. Known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon,” it sits nestled in the Kaibab National Forest at an elevation of 6,770 feet. Williams was the last town on Historic Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40.

old restaurant on route 66 in arizona with with old car at the front of the entrance and sign: cheesburger and cheese.

But what makes Williams stand out?

The town is brimming with activities and sights, making it an excellent spot for an overnight stay to soak in the retro vibe of the 1950s to 1970s.

Enjoy a drink in a stylish bar or explore the local wildlife park. Williams is also an ideal base for visiting the Grand Canyon South Rim. During peak season, accommodations are hard to find and often pricey in the Grand Canyon area, but the charming town of Williams, just 59 miles away, presents a fantastic alternative.

Beyond its Route 66 legacy, Williams boasts abundant hiking trails, fishing lakes, an alpine ski area, and cross-country ski paths, offering diverse outdoor adventures.

TRIP TIP: Our separate article provides detailed information about the best viewpoints on the Grand Canyon South Rim and how to take great photos there. You also might be interested in exploring the Grand Canyon North Rim and breathtaking Toroweap Overlook.

souvenir shops in Williams - one of the Best Route 66 Towns Arizona

Where to stay in Williams

Williams has a wide range of hotels at very different prices. In Williams, we can recommend the 9 Arizona Motor Hotel, located on the world-famous Route 66 in downtown Williams. Chris and I stayed there during one of our road trips.

The affordable Motel 6 is also a great choice.

When Chris and I traveled with our camper truck, we also stayed at Canyon Motel & RV Park.

If you prefer comfortable hotels, the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel is a great one. You can travel by train, from Williams, taking the Grand Canyon Railway Adventure Package tour.

Check lodging prices in Williams on the map below, which offers great promotions.


Exploring Williams, AZ: Top Activities

Ride the Grand Canyon Railway

For train buffs, a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway is a must. This journey, starting from Williams, Arizona, offers a unique way to visit the Grand Canyon. Relive the travel style of the early 1900s on this scenic tour to the Grand Canyon Village, with options for coach or first-class seating. It’s an ideal adventure for families.

Explore Bearizona Drive-Thru Wildlife Park

Bearizona offers an up-close look at wildlife during your Grand Canyon trip. Home to bears, bison, and bighorn sheep, this park allows you to drive through 3 miles of wilderness, spotting animals like black bears and Alaskan wolves from your car. It’s a must-visit for photography enthusiasts and families.

Enjoy a Drink at Sultana Bar

Head to the Sultana Bar in Williams, AZ for a taste of local nightlife. This bar captures the essence of Route 66 with its timeless charm. It’s like stepping back in time.

Dine at Goldies Route 66 Diner

For a classic American diner experience, visit Goldies Route 66 Diner. Known for its unchanged 1960s ambiance, hearty meals, and nostalgic atmosphere, it’s a top choice for breakfast or lunch.

Shop in Williams

Williams is the perfect spot for Route 66 souvenirs, offering a range of shops with iconic neon signs and a variety of memorabilia. Don’t miss out on local leather goods and Western collections, all proudly made in the USA, and ideal for those memorable photo ops.

Williams  Arizona with old red car at the front of the entrance to the cafe 66. Metal round tables and red umbrellas with the inscription Coca-Cola in front of the entrance.
Williams: mural on the wall with orange old Cadillac and inscription: Buffalo Pointe Inn on route 66.
Williams: old museum gallery and Grand Canyon Gift Shop on route 66.

The best Route 66 Towns in Arizona – Flagstaff

Flagstaff ranks high on our list of favorite Route 66 towns in Arizona.

We appreciate its blend of historic charm, modern amenities, and proximity to the Grand Canyon. Like Williams, Flagstaff serves as an excellent starting point for exploring the South Rim.

Just 79 miles from the Grand Canyon South Rim, Flagstaff is a smart choice for those mindful of their travel budget. It offers a convenient and cost-effective base for your Grand Canyon adventure.

Where to stay in Flagstaff

Flagstaff offers a wide range of accommodations. In this city, once we stayed at Motel 6 and other times at Budget Host Inn NAU. It is a reasonable price and good quality.


Things to do in Flagstaff, AZ

Take a Guided Tour from Flagstaff

Flagstaff offers several options for those short on time or preferring an organized tour. Consider a day trip to explore the Grand Canyon National Park Tour with a local guide, immersing yourself in one of the world’s seven wonders.

Tours to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are also available, ideal for a few days’ stay in Flagstaff.

If you prefer exploring on your own, check out our article about Horseshoe Bend Hike, the best Upper Antelope Canyon tour and the best Lower Antelope Canyon tour.

Explore Historic Downtown and Wheeler Park

The heart of Flagstaff’s historic downtown is its old railroad and station area, housing the visitors center. This lively neighborhood is filled with shops, eateries, and pubs. Stroll down to Wheeler Park, a serene green space perfect for a peaceful break.

Hike in the San Francisco Peaks

North of Flagstaff, the San Francisco Peaks, once volcanic, now boast six of Arizona’s highest mountains. With around 30 hiking trails, nature enthusiasts will find breathtaking scenery. The area also hosts the Arizona Snowbowl, an alpine ski resort, accessible via the scenic Snowbowl Road.

The best Route 66 Towns in Arizona – Seligman

Seligman, renowned for inspiring Pixar’s “Cars,” stands out as one of Arizona’s quintessential Route 66 towns. Its story and landscape influenced the film’s portrayal of a small town struggling to stay alive after being overlooked by the interstate.

Spanning 6.4 square miles, Seligman has a small community of 456 residents. The town earned the title “Birthplace of Historic Route 66” through the advocacy of locals, especially Angel Delgadillo, the Seligman barber who 1987 persuaded the State of Arizona to recognize Route 66 as a historic highway. Originally a Havasupai settlement, Seligman’s roots trace back to the native Havasupai people.

Visiting Seligman is like exploring an outdoor museum; its main street is lined with vintage rusty cars and quirky artifacts, echoing a bygone era.

TRIP TIP: Check out our related article about the fantastic Havasu Falls in Havasu Creek. Havasupai Waterfalls are hidden gems of the Grand Canyon. Check how to buy a permit and how to prepare for this amazing adventure! We have prepared a free 5-part guide to this fairy-tale land.

Historic Seligman buildings and old cars: police car and sport car at the front to Route 66 Historic Seligman Sundries blue wooden uildling.
Seligman on Route 66: old pinc cadillac at the fron of souvenir shop.
Mother Road Motel on Route 66 in Seligman.

The best Route 66 Towns in Arizona – Hackberry General Store AZ

The Hackberry General Store is a treasure trove on Route 66, often overlooked due to its unassuming location in the desert without prominent signage. It’s all that remains of the old Hackberry Silver Mine town.

Known as the “Mother Lode of Mother Road Memorabilia,” this store is brimming with historical signs, artifacts, and unique finds, essentially serving as a Route 66 museum. A stop here is definitely worthwhile, offering a deep dive into the nostalgia and heritage of the famed highway.

old and rusty pickup in Hackberry General Store in Arizona.
Hackberry General Store with route 66 souvenirs.

The Best Route 66 Towns – Related Articles

If you plan to visit other towns on the famous Route 66, check out some of our favorite California towns. It’s easy to combine them with exploring Arizona Route 66 towns. Also, we suggest you visit some ghost towns from the Gold and Silver Rush Era.

Hackberry General Store


  1. We have driven small parts of Route 66.  But I am sure it would have been fun to do the whole thing from Chicago to Santa Monica in its day.  Williams was certainly a fun stop on our transit day from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas.  But we were sorry we did not have time to take a vintage train trip.  We actually only drove thru Flagstaff on our visit to Arizona.  Maybe we need to stop in on our next visit.  

  2. Wow, what a fun trip! I’ve heard about the 66 plenty of times, but throughout my US travels have never actually been on it. I love the quirky nature of all of these towns, with mannequins and facades dressing up the place. I didn’t realise that Seligman was the inspiration for Cars. The Hackberry General store also looks really interesting. Bit of an off-the-beaten road gem. 

  3. Whenever I think of Route 66 I think of the Cars animated movie! I never knew there was an actual town, Seligman, that inspired the movie. I’ve never been on Route 66, it looks like it would be a really fun road-trip through the towns in Arizona! I would have to visit Seligman for sure and see if it reminds me of the movie, haha. The Hackberry General Store does sound like a fun place to stop and see some interesting memorabilia too. 

  4. I love everything  about Route 66.. it’s total Americana. Williams and Flagstaff look like perfect places to stop along the way. I love all the signage and the diners! I would be stopping by just to have a bite to eat. 

  5. I didn’t realize all these towns are on Route 66. Also didn’t know that a Seligman barber convinced the State of Arizona to dedicate Route 66 as a historic highway. We only visited Flagstaff, but I’d also love to see Saligman and Hackberry. They look quite appealing too.

  6. I had seen couple of places on this U.S. Route 66 which is also Main Street of America or the Mother Road, in Illinois. But it would be great to see it other part too. I loved the towns on this route in Arizona, especially Seligman which is famous for Pixar’s animated feature, Cars. I and my boys would love to take some funny pictures with those cars. Williams look like quite a funky town and I love such towns. I am adding this road trip on my list when I visit Arizona. 

  7. That’s cool – I appreciated this post as a big road trip fan. We are all about exploring the small towns and enjoying the surrounding areas while there. I pinned down Williams as a great potential for a visit because it perked my interest to read that we could take the train to Grand Canyon. How awesome is that ?? 

  8. You are so right about most of us having heard of R66. However, for people like me who have never visited that part of the world, it is a novelty to see such interseting pit stops. The kind of street art that you have shared definitely will make me stop longer than required at these pit stops. Or maybe like you said, convert them to stays.  😀 Hackberry General store is quite a quirky place to visit. 

  9. Arizona – as well as New Mexico – is a part of the US I haven’t been to yet but if I’d ever travel to the US again, it would certainly be on my list. It’s kind of the epitome of the American road trip – and I’m more than pleased to see that there is an option to go by train. That certainly would be down my alley. Your post shows how many great spots there are to visit – definitely something for my bucket list 🙂

  10. I’d love to do Route 66. It sounds like such an epic adventure and love that some of the sports are like stepping back in time. Your just persuading me to book a car and do it even more.

  11. Great post! It was interesting to read about the history of route 66 – starting from 1926! I missed Williams on our way to Grand Canyon. We stopped at Flagstaff. I love the images of the advertisements and hoardings especially the Buffalo Point Inn and the Mother 66. So cool! 🙂

  12. I’ve only experienced small sections of Route 66 as a kid and don’t remember much of it. It was interesting to read more about this iconic area!

  13. Ah all these towns look amazing! We don’t have anything like them in the UK so would love to plan a Route 66 road trip that includes these stops. Love all the quirky signs and places 😊

  14. Route 66 makes me think of Cars. My kids would love to take this road trip through Arizona! Love all the shops and what fun it would be to explore in each little town.

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