Local Information

Local Video

Intro to Route 66 (:31)

On Route 66 - 1 - Chicago (5:56)

Lou Mitchell's (1:34)

Joliet Route 66 Speedway (:47)

Riviera Fire in Gardner (11:06)

Two Cell Jail in Gardner (1:23)

On the Road

Route 66 is still the most famous United States highway system in the US. It also might be the most famous highway in the world.

Route 66 was born November 11, 1926 as it became a recognized highway system from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California. Eventually the road stretched to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica. The path of Route 66 passes through eight highways and covers 2,448 miles.

Today's trip takes us from the western terminus of Route 66 in downtown Chicago to the small farming community of Gardner, Illinois.

The trip from Chicago to Gardner passes through numerous villages and towns along the way. One of more interesting sights along the way is in Wilmington. Gemini GiantThe Gemini Giant towers over the nearby Launching Pad Drive-In. The theme dates back to the early space race of the 1960's between Russia and the United States. ( 41° 18.627'N, 88° 8.330'W)

Abraham Lincoln National CemetaryJust outside Joliet is the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. President Lincoln's legacy is especially important to the people of Illinois, where he worked and lived. drawbridge in JolietRoute 66 crosses the Des Plaines River in downtown Joliet across one of many drawbridges located along the river. Joliet is loaded with Route 66 history.

Polka Dot Drive InFurther down the road, the Polka Dot Drive-in still runs in Braidwood as it did during the heyday or Route 66. Polka Dot Drive InThe restaurant originally opend as a converted school bus painted with polka dots. Statues of Famous Celebrities Line the Polka Dot Drive Inn Today it is a classic 50's drive-in with life-size statues of famous celebrities scattered throughout the location.

Braidwood is the last town before arriving in Gardner.

GardnerGardner is a small town of just under 1500 people on Route 66. Gardner hosts an annual celebration on the first weekend in May in conjunction with the Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor. Gardner is known on U.S. 66 for its historic 2-cell jail and the former location of the Riviera Restaurant.

Riviera RestaurantThe Rivera Restaurant located at 5650 South Route 53 (Route 66) a little over a mile north of Gardner was a prohibition hangout of Al Capone with a beer cooler located in a basement vault hidden behind thick doors that hid the gambling and alcohol.Mugshot of Al CaponeThe restaurant burned down after a couple months of legal fights (which had the restaurant opened then closed) with the city of Gardner and the owner of The Riviera regarding fire sprinklers.

Capone was an entrepreneur of a different sort. He was the greatest symbol of corruption during the Roaring Twenties and the Prohibition Era. As the leading character in the days when gangsters ruled Chicago, it was Capone that controlled much of the illegal activities that took place.


The Forecast

Illinois Road Conditions

Miles Traveled: 85

Route 66 Attractions


Population: 1,528

Local Radio

  1. WLS (Oldies)
  2. WJOB Hammon, IN (talk)
  3. WGN Chicago, IL (talk)
  4. KISS Chicago, IL (Top 40)
  5. WSSR Joliet (Adult C.)
  6. WJEZ Dwight (Lite Rock)

Route 66

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Day 1: Chicago to Gardner


U.S. Highways, Route 66 was commissioned as the official roadway from Chicago to Los Angeles on November 11, 1926. Ever since it has been a piece of Americana shared throughout the world. The Sunday, March 4, 1928, edition of the Miami Oklahoma News-Record marketed the route as the "Main Street of America." Click the map to read the story.

Lou Mitchell'sOur trip down Route 66 begins in downtown Chicago at Lou Mitchell's restaraunt. This diner opened in 1923 just three years before Route 66 Lake Michigan sits behind the start of Route 66was commissioned by the United States Congress as the way to get from Chicago to Los Angeles, California. (In 1936 Route 66 was extended to Santa Monica, California) Just a few blocks west of Lake Michigan, Lou Mitchell's have been serving Route 66 travelers for close to 90 years.

Lou Mitchell Omlet

Lou Mitchell's Restaraurant is a historic Route 66 diner. Located at  565 West Jackson Boulevard in Chicago, Lou Mitchell's Restaurant sits near the east end of Route 66. Lou Mitchell's is known world-wide for its atmosphere, excellent food, and Route 66 connection. The menu includes sandwiches and dinner items. The restaurant also serves breakfast throughout the day. Among the breakfast choices is the greek omlet that includes feta cheese and spicey sausage.

Parking space is limited along the streets of downtown Chicago. Typically it Parking near Union Station isn't cheap for one meal.is much easier to park at the nearby parking lot just a half block up the hill across from Union Station. Parking isn't cheap. If you stop for breakfast you will probably spend about the price of your meal just to leave your vehicle in the lot.

Heading out of Chicago on Route 66

There is a lot to see and do as Route 66 heads southwest out of Chicago.

Chicago to Gardner on Route 66

The trip to Gardner is approximately 85 miles. However, stopping at all the different Route 66 locations make for a full day of travel.


The Berghoff German Restaraunt is another Route 66 restaraunt not too far from the start of Route 66 in Chicago.


The White Fence Farm restaurant is located about 45 minutes from downtown Chicago. The large rooster welcomes Route 66 vistors. ( 41° 40.530'N, 88° 3.451'W)

The Polka Dot Drive-in still runs in Braidwood. Prices are great as is the atmosphere. Life-size figures of famous celebrities from the Route 66 era stand throughout the building.

Joilet takes great pride with her Route 66 connection. Numerous buildings along the route feature Route 66 themes.

Photos of Joliet Prison, Joliet
This photo of Joliet Prison is courtesy of TripAdvisorBlues Brothers at Joliet Prison. Of course you also can also take a side route and visit the old Joliet Prison made famous by the Blues Brothers movie.


The entire city also has a large connection of Route 66 era gas pumps scattered all along the Route 66 coridor.

View Joliet Route 66 Gas Pumps in a larger map

Route 66 Motor Speedway

Just south of Joliet near Elwood you can find the a the Route 66 Speedway. ( 41° 28.355'N, 88° 3.659'W)



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