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Get Your Kicks on Route 66 – American Airlines & Illinois Event at the Westbury

ITTN’s Shane Cullen reports from the Route 66 event. American Airlines, along with four CVB’s representing Route 66 in Illinois state, hosted a dinner in the Westbury Hotel for travel trade and media. The evening consisted of a short speed dating style update, informal dinner, drinks and some luxury prizes won by Sharon Harney (Cassidy Travel) and Roisin Carbery (Tropical Sky). 

In attendance were representatives from Illinois State Tourism, Choose Chicago, Heritage Corridor CVB, Visit Springfield and Great Rivers & Routes.

Worldclass Accolades for Chicago

There is a multitude of reasons Chicago attracted 61 million visitors in 2019. Voted Number One “Best Large City in the US” for the five years up to and including 2021 by Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, Chicago earns its place as a top travel destination. Furthermore, it is ranked number one as the “Best Food & Drink City in the World” and 3rd “Best City in the World Overall” by Timeout in 2019. It boasts The Peninsula and The Langham among the “Top Five Hotels – US” by US News & World Report’s 2021 Annual Best Hotels. This is also home to the start of the infamous Route 66.

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Route 66 in the US was one of the original highways in the USA’ numbered highway system. It was established in 1926 meaning it will celebrate a century in 2026. The original route spanning 3,940km started in Chicago and winds its way west, traversing the country till its end in Santa Monica in LA County, California. This was the route to head west and has furnished a path through decades of Americana. Every generation has its iconic image etched in its memory whether from iconic songs “Get Your Kicks On Route 66”, the Mother Road from John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” or more recently, Pixar’s animated movie “Cars”.

The First 100 Miles of Route 66

Begin at the beginning and for Route 66, this is East Jackson Boulevard in Downtown Chicago. Journey through Illinois along the first 100 miles of the epic roadway. On route, find iconic museums, retro diners and throwback gas stations. Head to Joliet for the Route 66 Welcome Center, the Rialto Square Theatre, one of the most beautiful theatres in the world and the Old Joliet Prison and tourist attraction which featured in the Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi movie, The Blues Brothers and tv show, Prison Break.

Pause at the Launching Pad visitor centre, home to the 30-foot-high Gemini Giant, one of only three remaining Muffler Men statues on Route 66.

Delightfully named, Polk-a-Dot Drive-In offers a slice of American pop culture with statues of Elvis, The Blues Brothers, Betty Boop, James Dean and more. Continue to the town of Pontiac, home to the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum filled with fascinating memorabilia from maps, motel signs, the Route 66 mural and much more. For classic motor enthusiasts, visit Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum and Resource Center for stunning antique and classic automobiles, artefacts an exhaustive library of maps, design drawings and more.

The Land of Lincoln

Illinois is known as the “Land of Lincoln”. Travelling through the Springfield area along Route 66, visit all things Lincoln from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and his final resting place, the Lincoln Tomb. There is also a reconstruction of Illinois’ 5th statehouse where Lincoln delivered his famous “House Divided” speech.

Great Rivers & Routes of Southwest Illinois

The Great Rivers & Routes region is home to 200+ miles of hiking and biking trails alone. The list of things that make the Great Rivers & Routes region stand out is as long as Route 66 itself, also known as the Mother Road. In the Great Rivers & Routes region, experience is everything.

There’s only one place in the world where the Mother Road and the Great River Road meet, and it’s in Illinois’ backyard. The convergence of those two iconic roads is also the intersection of fascinating people, places and things that make this region so special. Find out more here.

Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen
Shane Cullen has been managing director of a media production studio for nearly 20 years working on projects for a global clientele. He has worked in the travel industry for over a decade and as a travel journalist since 2015. He is passionate about travel, film & photography. He also has a keen interest in emerging technology.


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