Published May 01, 2014
Cruising to the Coast
Out of New Mexico, Route 66 covered about 375 miles of desert across Arizona. During that long, hot and dry section, many travelers began dreaming of their final destination: southern California and the Pacific Coast.
Route 66 took travelers into the Los Angeles area and officially ended in Santa Monica. Today’s enthusiasts can discover the ocean and a vibrant seafront lifestyle in that hip, healthy town.
“There are a few different locations throughout Santa Monica that were once the end of Route 66,” said Kelly Nagle, communications manager for the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Over time, they eventually decided to change it officially to the end of the Santa Monica Pier. People wanted to have that symbolic trip to the ocean, where they’re overlooking the mountains and the sea.”
The Santa Monica Pier makes a great place for groups to celebrate their ceremonial Route 66 trip. An “end of the trail” sign there is a popular spot for photos, and travelers can break loose to enjoy the pier’s amusement rides, shops and restaurants on their own. Those include 66 to Cali, a small shop dedicated to the legends of Route 66 that features American-made goods and Mother Road memorabilia.
While in town, many groups also visit the original Muscle Beach, take guided bicycle tours or spend time shopping at the outdoor Third Street Promenade. But they shouldn’t leave the area without getting official documentation of their Route 66 journey.
“Since we’re the end of Route 66, we have a certificate available at our visitors center,” Nagle said. “Folks that have taken the time to drive the route can come get a completion certificate to show that they’ve made it to the end.”