How to have the ultimate Oklahoma Route 66 road trip

The best part of a road trip is the chance to explore stops along the way.

The best part of a road trip is the chance to explore stops along the way. Photo: Travel Oklahoma

Home to the longest drivable stretch of Route 66, Oklahoma is the perfect midway starting point for a road trip on the historic stretch of US highway linking Chicago with Los Angeles.

And whether you head east to Kansas and Missouri or west to Texas on Route 66 from Oklahoma City, you’ll find all the neon signs, museums, kitsch and chicken fried steaks that makes a Route 66 road trip.

Here’s just some of the reasons to put an Oklahoma Route 66 road trip on your bucket list.

Think American road trip and you probably think diners, and Oklahoma has some of the best, almost all serving the state’s official meal — chicken fried steak. Cooked in a crunchy batter with peppery cream gravy on the side, you’ll find it on every self-respecting diner’s menu.

Stop in to sample it at Clanton’s Café in Vinita, featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives TV show, at Flo’s Burger Diner in Tulsa where the Bomb Burger and Spanish Fries aren’t to be missed and at Cheevers in Oklahoma City where an upscale version is served with jalapeno cream gravy and red-skinned garlic mashed potatoes.

From the kitsch to the sobering, the museums along Oklahoma’s stretch of Route 66 encapsulate America in a nutshell. And three celebrate the Mother Road itself.

Route 66 Museum

Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Clinton, Oklahoma. Photo: Travel Oklahoma

The National Route 66 Museum in Elk City is filled to the brim with audio kiosks, murals and memorabilia, including an old truck recalling the escape from the Dust Bowl depicted in The Grapes of Wrath. (In the same museum complex is the National Route 66 & Transportation Museum, where you can watch The Blob at a drive-in from behind the wheel of a 1959 Chevy Impala, as well as the Farm and Ranch Museum.)

In Clinton you’ll find the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, its sleek architecture designed to evoke the 1950s. Inside are classic cars and a restored 1950s diner. Not to be outdone, the town of Chandler boasts the Route 66 Interpretive Center, with video displays, memorabilia and a vintage Mustang.

Bob Dylan Center

Bob Dylan Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo: Travel Oklahoma

The city breaks

The best part of a road trip is the chance to explore stops along the way. If your starting point is Oklahoma City, be sure to set aside a few days before you start driving.

Get into a wild west frame of mind with a visit to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and take a stroll or a bike ride along the Katy Trail. Built on the old Katy Railway line it takes a scenic route through the capital via parks and the city’s Adventure District with its zoo, museums and racetrack.

Be sure to include some time in Oklahoma’s second largest city, Tulsa, too, with its fine art deco architecture. Be sure to drop into the Bob Dylan Center and Woody Guthrie Center, which celebrates the life of the Oklahoma son and internationally famous folk singer.

Travel Oklahoma

Buck Atom Space Cowboy, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo: Travel Oklahoma

The photo ops

Have you even been on Route 66 without photographic reminders of the weird, the bizarre and the kitsch? Get your phone camera ready for world’s largest concrete totem pole, at Totem Pole Park, Catoosa’s Blue Whale, which gives Australia’s proud history of “big things” a run for its money, OK County 66, an open-air display of miniatures and replicas of Route 66 Americana and the bright red Round Barn, an 1898-built structure.

The events

While any time is a good time to drive Route 66, in 2026 the road is celebrating its 100th birthday, so expect the ultimate in festivals and special events.

The rest of the time, you’ll find an event or festival pretty well every weekend of the year in Oklahoma, including many centred around Route 66. From pop-up ice rinks to Christmas lights to cowboy festivals to car shows, there’s something around every bend on this iconic road.

Direct flights operate between Sydney and Melbourne to Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Airport.

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