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Route 66 in Williams, Arizona

Traces of the Mother Road


route 66 sign

Route 66 Sign

© Betsy Malloy 2005
In 1926, U. S. Highway 66 was established through Williams, Arizona. A little over half a century later, on October 13th, 1984, it became the last bypassed town along the "Mother Road," as old Highway 66 became Interstate 40.

Today, all of downtown Williams is on the National Register of Historic Places, and its largely-unchanged main street evokes images of the legendary route. Williams the town is also like a slice of small-town America, a place where they still hold a local beauty queen contest, and the clerk at the local mini-mart gives out tips about where to eat.

Old Route 66 runs from I-40 Exit 161 to Exit 165. Parallel one-way streets run through downtown, and the eastbound one, Bill Williams Avenue, is old Route 66. These are some of the old Route 66 sights you'll find along Bill Williams Avenue:

  • Rod's Steakhouse: Little has changed at Rod's since it opened in 1945, not even the cow-shaped menus (and the calf-shaped one for kids).
  • Cruiser's: A restaurant located in the old C. Bene Gas Station. They have some nice Route 66 murals out front, bar stools made from motorcycle seats and the men's room has some of the best tongue-in-cheek decor we've seen.
  • Twister's Soda Fountain: An old-fashioned soda fountain with red-and-white booths and juke box.
  • Pete's Gas Station Museum: A fun collection of old gas pumps, oil cans and other gas station memorabilia.
  • Route 66 Place: A Route 66-themed gift shop.
  • Turquoise Teepee: A curio shop with a terrific original-looking sign.
Besides the Route 66-themed sights, Wild West Junction is a growing attraction centered on the Tyhoon Saloon (great barbecue!), Hop Sing's Chinese Restaurant and the Territorial Museum which houses an eclectic mix of historical objects and western film memorabilia.

Annual Events in Williams

For a small town, Williams has lots of festivals. A few of the most interesting are the Cool Country Cruise In Car Show, a classic car show that attracts the kind of vehicles that got their kicks on Route 66 when they were new, small town Fourth of July and Polar Express on the Grand Canyon Railway.

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