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Best Route 66 Towns Arizona

You’ve heard about Route 66 in songs and caught glimpses of it in the movies. U.S. Route 66, Main Street of America or the Mother Road is a classic of Old Times. Most of all, we love Route 66 towns in Arizona, where you can feel the old days spirit and atmosphere. Our Best Route 66 Towns in Arizona are Williams, Flagstaff, Saligman, and Hackberry. When you drive this nostalgic road 66 through these towns, it feels like you’ve been moved back in time. So, get your kicks on Route 66, with us!

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Route 66 Arizona

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

U.S. Route 66 or U.S. Highway 66, aka the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the most famous roads in the United States. US 66 was established on November 11, 1926. Route 66 originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica in California. It was a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km). Route 66 served as a primary road for those who migrated west in the 1930s. People started the business along the Mother Road, which became prosperous due to the growing popularity of Route 66. Bobby Troup got the idea for the song Get Your Kicks on Route 66 in 1946 on a cross-country drive from Pennsylvania to California. The song became a hymn of the Route 66. In the 1960s was played a TV series about Route 66, too. The road 66 symbolized escape and loss.

In the 1980s, the road 66 fall of popularity due to the new Interstate Highway System. The new highway bypassed towns on Route 66. Businesses began to collapse, and cities devastated. Local communities started to fight to keep the road alive as a “Historic Route 66”.

So, traveling around Arizona, do not miss the most attractive towns on the old Route 66: Williams, Flagstaff, Seligman, and Hackberry.

TRIPTIP: If you are planning holidays in Arizona, check 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.

old restaurant on route 66 in arizona
Best Route 66 Towns Arizona
Best Route 66 Towns Arizona
Best Route 66 Towns Arizona
Best Route 66 Towns Arizona

Williams AZ

Williams AZ, is one of our favorites, Route 66 towns. It is known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” and is located in the heart of 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.

Williams offers a lot of things to do and see. That’s why it is a great idea to stay here overnight to feel the atmosphere of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, have a drink in the stylish bar, or visit the wildlife park. Most important is to know that Williams can be your great base for exploring the Grand Canyon South Rim. In peak season, might be challenging to get lodging in the Grand Canyon area, and prices are high. So, it’s worth considering charming Williams as an alternative because it’s only 59 miles from the Grand Canyon. However, Williams offers much more than the heritage of Route 66. You can find a lot of hiking trails in the town area, fishing lakes and an alpine ski area and cross-country ski trails.

TRIPTIP:  In our article, you will find detailed info about the best viewpoints on Grand Canyon South Rim and how to get great phots there. You will also find all the necessary information to prepare your perfect trip to South Rim of Grand Canyon: how to get there, which trail to take, tour recommendations, and more.
However, if you dream of remote Grand Canyon North Rim and breathtaking Toroweap Overlook, you can check your photos and detailed tips in this article.

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Route 66 Road Trip100 Essential Stops
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Where to stay in Williams

Williams has a wide range of hotels at very different prices. In Williams, we can recommend 9 Arizona Motor Hotel, located on the world-famous Route 66 in downtown Williams. When we traveled our camper truck, we stayed in Canyon Motel & RV Park, too. There is also great Grand Canyon Railway RV Park. If you prefer hotels, the great one is the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. From Williams, you can travel by train taking Grand Canyon Railway Adventure Package tour.

Check lodging prices in Williams on hotels.com, which offers great promotions.

What to do in Williams AZ

Take a vintage train to Grand Canyon

The train enthusiast can ride the Grand Canyon Railway through Arizona. It’s a fantastic experience to take this stylish train to visit Grand Canyon. You can enjoy a scenic, leisurely train ride from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon Village, and travel the way people have since 1901 during this Grand Canyon Railway tour. You can choose from coach or first-class seating on the Grand Canyon train. It’s a perfect choice for families.

Visit Bearizona Drive-Thru Wildlife Park

Bearizona Drive-Thru Wildlife Park is a great place to see animals during your Grand Canyon vacation. It’s a chance to see bears, bison, bighorn sheep, and more at the family-friendly Bearizona Drive-Thru Wildlife Park. Drive through 3 miles (4 km) of Arizona wilderness in your vehicle, viewing North American wildlife like black bears and Alaskan wolves. We highly recommended this place, especially if you like taking photos or if you travel with kids.

Have a drink in Sultana Bar

Williams AZ, has a variety of drink bars and dining options. Our favorite place for a drink is a stylish Sultana Bar. You can feel the spirit of Route 66 in this vintage place. Time stood still in this bar.

Goldies Route 66 Diner is a very classic place for breakfasts and lunches. We would even say it has not changed since the 1960s. Portions are significant, and we recommend it. Whatever you choose, it will be tasty, and service makes the atmosphere to feel like 50 years ago.

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Shopping in Williams

Williams has a perfect atmosphere of a small town and great charm. If you want to buy souvenirs on Route 66, it’s the best place to do it. On Route 66, you will find several shops with classic neon signs, with extensive selections of souvenirs. They are also perfect spots to take pictures. Williams also has leather goods, western collections, made in the USA only.

Williams AZ Route 66 Arizona
Williams Route 66
Williams AZ

Flagstaff AZ

Flagstaff is our second choice on Route 66 in Arizona. We like this town because except the historic center of Route 66, it is a pretty modern town, close to Grand Canyon. And like Williams, it can be a great place as a starting point for visiting South Rim.
From Flagstaff, it’s only 79 miles to Grand Canyon South Rim, so it’s worth to stay there.

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Where to stay in Flastaff

Flagstaff offers a wide range of accommodation. In this city, we stayed in Motel 6 and Budget Host Inn NAU. It has a reasonable price and good quality. We liked the Best Western Pony Soldier Inn & Suites very much. It’s a great hotel, but a bit more expensive.

What to do in Flagstaff AZ

Take a trip

If you have limited time and if you are looking organized tour, you have a lot of possibilities from Flagstaff. You can take a Grand Canyon National Park Tour and explore one of the 7 wonders of the world during this one day trip with a local guide.
Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend tour is also possible from Flagstaff. So it’s worth considering this trip if you are staying for a few days in Flagstaff.
But our favorite choice from Flagstaff is Colorado River Smooth Water Float Trip. It’s a great one day adventure. You can enjoy a desert sightseeing trip and scenic float on the Colorado River.

Visit Historic Downtown & Wheeler Park

Flagstaff’s historic downtown is centered around the old railroad and station, where you will find the visitors center. The historic city is a vibrant area to explore, dotted with shops, restaurants, and bars. Take a walk to Wheeler Park, an open green space with plenty of trees, where you can take a rest.

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Go For a Hike in San Francisco Peaks Area

Just to the north of Flagstaff, the once volcanic mountain range of San Francisco Peaks now contains 6 of the highest peaks in Arizona. You have around 30 trails to hike in the district of San Francisco Peaks if you like nature. The views are breathtaking. On San Francisco Peaks is also located the Arizona Snowbowl – an alpine ski resort. It’s a great idea to drive up Snowbowl Road.

Seligman AZ

Seligman is famous for Pixar’s animated feature, Cars. The town was the inspiration for the storyline and topography of the little Route 66 town that had to fight for its survival after being by-passed by the interstate. Seligman has an area of 6.4 square miles and boasting a population of only 456. The town became a “Birthplace of Historic Route 66” due to the efforts of Seligman residents, most notably Angel Delgadillo, the Seligman barber who convinced the State of Arizona to dedicate Route 66 a historic highway in 1987. Initially, the area was the homeland of the Havasupai peoples, and Seligman was originally a Havasupai settlement.
In this town you feel like in a strange museum, when along the main street you can admire old rusty cars and odd items, relics of the past.

TRIPTIP: Check out our related article about the fantastic Havasu Falls in Havasu Creek. Havasupai Waterfalls are hidden gems of 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.

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Seligman Route 66

Hackberry General Store AZ

Hackberry General Store is a hidden gem of Route 66. It’s easy to miss it, because there are no signs, and it is in the middle of the desert. Nothing more than Hackberry General Store left of the Hackberry Silver Mine town. Nicknamed the “Mother Lode of Mother Road Memorabilia”, the Hackberry General Store is packed wall to wall with historic signs, artifacts, and quirks. It’s a museum of Route 66. So, it’s worth to stop here.

Hackberry General Store Arizona
Hackberry General Store
Hackberry General Store
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  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. 

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