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  • Thursday, May 2, Pacific Park will be CLOSED to the public at 4 PM.
  • Thursday, May 9, Pacific Park will be CLOSED to the public at 3:30 PM.
  • Wednesday, May 15, Pacific Park will be CLOSED to the public at 4 PM.
  • Thursday, May 19, Pacific Park will be CLOSED to the public at 6 PM.
  • Thursday, May 23, Pacific Park will be CLOSED to the public at 6 PM.
  • Friday, July 12, Pacific Park will be CLOSED to the public ALL DAY.

🕐 For a full schedule of hours, please check our operating calendar before planning your visit.

Celebrating Route 66 — The Original “Main Street of America”

Popularized in American culture through books, songs, music, movies, and television shows, Route 66 is one of the most famous roads in America. This iconic thoroughfare was one of the United States’ first continuous stretches of paved highway and captured the imagination of generations of Americans. Nicknamed “The Mother Road” by the novelist John Steinbeck, Route 66 was commissioned on November 11, 1926.  It stretched from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, before terminating in Santa Monica, California — and covered a total of 2,448 miles! Also known as “The Main Street of America,” Route 66 held its prime position for nearly half a century and served as a major path for those who migrated west. During the 1930s’ Dust Bowl (a period of severe dust storms, drought and erosion that forced tens of thousands of poverty-stricken families to abandon their farms), Route 66 became the primary route for farm workers migrating from the Midwest to California. During World War II this mass migration continued along the highway thanks to the myriad opportunities promised by golden-hued California. By 1938, Route 66 was completely paved — the first American highway to boast the luxury. Active promotion by the U.S. 66 Highway Association (an organization set up to promote business and tourism along the route) helped increase the road’s popularity, advertising it as “the shortest, best and most scenic route from Chicago through St. Louis to Los Angeles.”

Route 66 in Popular Culture

When John Steinbeck released his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath in 1939, he immortalized Route 66 as a symbol of escape, loss, and the hope of new beginnings. The 1940 film version finds the Joad family traveling west on Route 66 from Oklahoma to California — where they find the road crowded with other migrants trying to escape poverty and despair. In 1946 Route 66 enjoyed a less sombre tribute in the form of the hit song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66.” The song was composed in by American songwriter Bobby Troup, who got the idea on a cross-country drive from Pennsylvania to California. Nat King Cole (with the King Cole Trio) recorded the song and released it as a single, making it a hit. Eventually the song became a standard. The Rolling Stones, Billy Bragg, Chuck Berry, Depeche Mode, and John Mayer have all recorded versions, Route 66 was further memorialised in the 1960s crime drama TV series Route 66, which featured the adventures of two young men travelling through the United States in a Chevrolet Corvette convertible, encountering many complicated, difficult, or strange situations along the way.

Route 66’s Surrounding Communities

In the 1950s, Route 66 became the main highway for vacationers heading to Los Angeles. This increased traffic resulted in the opening of many mom-and-pop establishments, such as restaurants, motels, and gas stations, to service the needs of passing motorists. The many sights and roadside attractions along the route became an important part of the tourism experience. All this business along Route 66 supported the communities through which it passed, and in turn the communities grew and thrived. However, these same business owners had to later fight to keep their businesses alive as the advanced freeways of the Interstate Highway System, which bypassed by the route’s communities, became a growing threat.

Route 66 in the Golden State

Route 66 stretches for about 315 miles through the state of California. This segment of the route begins in the arid solitude of Mojave Desert as it borders Arizona, then winds through the humming metropolis of Los Angeles — passing through the neighborhoods of Pasadena, Hollywood, and Downtown Los Angeles. “The Main Street of America” officially ends at the Santa Monica Pier. And what a place to finish the journey. With incredible Pacific Ocean views, the pier is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and features an amusement park, aquarium, and multiple restaurants and shops.  A sign commemorates the “end of the trail” on Santa Monica Pier. However, the end of the road wasn’t always so fun-filled. The original western terminus was in downtown Los Angeles at the intersection of 7th street and Broadway Ave. In 1936, the route was extended to Santa Monica to end at US 101 Alt., today the intersection of Olympic and Lincoln Boulevards.

The Mother Road’s Eventual Decline

Route 66 underwent many improvements and realignments over its lifetime, but the construction of the Interstate Highway System resulted in the iconic route’s eventual demise. The road was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985. Correspondingly, many of the roadside attractions along the route were also lost.  Portions of the road have now been designated as National Scenic Byways or as “Historic Route 66” in several states including Arizona, New Mexico, Illinois, and Missouri. Much of the former route within the San Bernardino County, California, is designated as “County Route 66”. This segment is also being redeveloped into part of the United States Bicycle Route System, which consists of interstate long-distance cycling routes that use multiple types of bicycling infrastructure. In 2008, the World Monuments Fund listed Route 66 on the Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites, highlighting the importance of its preservation.

Celebrating the Centennial

In 2026, America will commemorate the 100th anniversary of Route 66. The Route 66 Centennial Commission Act was passed by Congress and signed into law on December 23, 2020. The commission created will consist of representatives from each of the eight Route 66 states and will recommend activities and productions to commemorate the anniversary. Many states and organizations are planning special events and tours to celebrate this historic milestone and honor the road by helping the millions who live, work, and travel along it.