Crossing into California, the Mother Road spans the southern portion of the state. According to Scott Piotrowski, executive director of Highway Journeys, California has Route 66’s only stretch of unforgiving desert, and on the other extreme, it has metropolitan Los Angeles.
For an off-the-beaten-path experience in the Mojave Desert, visit the Kelso Dunes. Your group can hike the maintained trail that climbs around the cone of Amboy Crater, a dormant volcano. One of the quirkiest stops, Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch, displays a forest of “trees” made from bottles of all shapes, colors and sizes that were abandoned near Route 66. And in Victorville, Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Café has served hearty breakfasts and lunch since 1947.
Leaving the desert via the Cajon Pass and descending to Rancho Cucamonga, baseball fans can catch a game at the home of the Quakes, the Los Angeles Dodgers farm team. Next up, San Bernardino, with its landmark Wigwam Motel, serves as the gateway to Los Angeles. Route 66 originally ended in downtown Los Angeles in the now-restored Broadway Theater District where actors once flocked to make it big. Celebrating the end of this nostalgic journey at the Santa Monica Pier, your group can ride the Ferris wheel, stroll the beach and dine al fresco at sunset.
“In Los Angeles County, nearly 90 landmarks of Route 66 are on the National Register of Historic Places, so the density of historic structures is immense,” said Piotrowski. “Although the pier isn’t part of the road’s history, it’s part of the contemporary view of the road and definitely worth experiencing at the end of the journey.”