Route 66 though Los Angeles
Route 66 followed various streets through Pasadena, but this route will give a quick look at the city. Exit I-215 at Sierra Madre Blvd south, then follow E. Colorado Blvd. west (left) through town along the Rose Parade route, turning south onto S. Arroyo Parkway.
Going south from Pasadena, Arroyo Parkway becomes CA Hwy 110, the first "freeway" in the United States, which became part of Route 66 when it opened in December, 1940.
At one time, Route 66 ended in downtown Los Angeles near Clifton's Cafeteria at the corner of Broadway and 7th, but it was later extended. Today, purists say the the corner of Lincoln and Olympic in Santa Monica is the end of the route, but the Santa Monica Pier carries the title of "official" end of Route 66. Going west from downtown, today's Santa Monica Boulevard takes you there.
Exit 110 at US Hwy 101 north, then exit at Santa Monica Boulevard west to follow old Route 66 through West Hollywood, where local businesses keep alive the old road's tradition of great neon signs. The Museum of Neon Art and city of West Hollywood have also partnered up to create an outdoor exhibit called On Route 66 - Lights which highlights some of the best modern neons along the route along with a few classic neons rescued from other locations.
Santa Monica Blvd. will take you through Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles and the city of Santa Monica on the way to the ocean. Turn left when you reach Ocean Avenue to reach the "official" end at the Santa Monica Pier.
In ever-changing Los Angeles, few businesses remain from the old days, but along the way, you'll pass Barney's Beanery (8447 Santa Monica Blvd.) has been around since the early days and Formosa Cafe (7156 Santa Monica Boulevard) has been operated by the same family since it opened in the 1930s. Irv's Burgers at 8289 Santa Monica Blvd was also a Route 66 stop, preserved as a landmark by the local community.
A few other ways to explore Route 66 in Los Angeles:
- The Peterson Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard celebrates the automobile, including a permanent exhibit about car culture in southern California. this is a good place to see some of the vehicles that earlier travelers would have driven.
- Estouric tour company runs a periodic Route 66 tour, which follows the route eastward from Los Angeles. Sadly, so few true Route 66 landmarks remain in the area that much of the tour highlights events and places that - while fun - are unrelated to Route 66. You can read their itinerary and find dates here.
- Neon is a big part of the Route 66 scene and The Museum of Neon Art offers nighttime tours of the city's best bright lights (although most are a bit younger than the Mother Road).