Kingman, Ariz., the King of Route 66
Experience this classic road trip stop filled with Route 66 lore and Americana.
For Route 66 lovers, Kingman, Ariz., is a living tribute to the Mother Road, but it also has great trails to explore juniper and pine forests, as well as desert landscapes.
The White Cliffs Wagon Road Trail is part of an old wagon route used in the late 1800s to bring ore from the Stockton Hill Mines to the railroad. Hike this 2.4-mile trail to go back in time. Hike approximately 15 minutes to see the wagon tracks cut deep into the stone. Keep your eye out for depressions along both sides of the roadbed, which were used for stubbing posts and ropes to help get the heavy wagons up and down the grade.
At Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area, mountain biking and hiking trails await on 11,300 acres of grasslands speckled with yucca, mesquite and prickly pear in the Mohave Desert. The Monolith Gardens Loop Trail stretches 7 miles with connector trails, so you can go as short or long as you want. It’s known to locals as the mini-Monument Valley because of its fun-shaped boulders.
Where Can I Find Route 66 Lore in Kingman?
And then there’s Route 66 and its living history in Kingman, Ariz. Few know that Egyptian camels are to credit for helping break trail on what would 75 years later become Route 66. Valued as a “winter-proof” route across the Southwest to California, Route 66 would become one of America’s most iconic roads.
There’s no better place to learn of its storied history than the Arizona Route 66 Museum. But first drive through Kingman’s Route 66 Shield located near the museum.
“Until people go through the museum, they don’t really see the big picture,” says Joshua Noble of Kingman’s tourism department, referring to the Arizona Route 66 Museum. “We really fill in the blanks.”
You’ll see heartbreaking photos and life-sized depictions of the Dust Bowl refugees and whimsical stories of post-World War II America. There’s even an exhibit on the legendary Burma-Shave signs that lined the route, promoting Al Odell’s father’s ailing shaving cream business with silly sayings like “He’s nifty and thrifty–looks 30 at 50.” Some of the Burma-Shave signs have been restored and you’ll see them lining Route 66 as you drive the road, especially through the stretch from Seligman, Ariz., through Peach Springs to Kingman, Ariz.
“Initially, it was about nostalgia,” says Noble about the many people who travel on Historic Route 66. “But now it’s part of a cheap and easy family road trip. It’s not just about going to Disneyland or going to Phoenix for spring training. People want to experience the drive as well as each destination.”
Visit the museum at Kingman’s historic Powerhouse at 120 W. Andy Devine Ave. 928-753-9889; www.explorekingman.com/attraction-Powerhouse-Route-66-Museum.
Where to Eat in Kingman, Ariz.
Fuel up with a Route 66 classic, get a taste for Kingman’s trendiest restaurants in the town’s quaint old town area and spend the night in one of the last remaining pre-World War II tourist motor courts in Kingman.
With more than 20 downtown buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places, stroll this quaint downtown area that’s home to beautiful architecture, Black Bridge Brewery, Rickety Cricket Brewing, coffee shops and gift shops. Stop in The Cellar Door Wine Bar for a wide selection of wines, great hospitality and live music.
A short drive from downtown, stop by Diamond Desert Distillery for a tour of how craft spirits are made in Arizona’s oldest craft distillery. If you’re more into wine, visit the award-winning Cella Winery.
And there’s the great Route 66 vintage signage and businesses that are still going. Here are three Route 66 classics to see while in town.
Rickety Cricket Brewing
Look for the vintage neon Kingman Club sign, which had been dark for 21 years until it was brought back to life in 2015. It’s in Kingman’s historic downtown at Rickety Cricket Brewing. A 50-year mainstay, the former Kingman Club has only gotten better with age; 312 E. Beale St.; 928-753-2337; ricketycricketbrewing.com.
Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner
It started off as a gas station in 1918, but this classic diner, complete with black and white floor tile, jukebox and pink-and-turquoise booths, started serving hungry locals and travelers in 1929. You’ll feel as if you traveled back to the early 1960s when you eat at this great roadside diner. Don’t miss out on the incredible homemade root beer; 105 E. Andy Devine Ave.; 928-718-0066; mrdzrt66diner.com.
Mattina’s Ristorante Italiano
For a little finer dining experience, place order for Six Dead Guys In A Trunk (escargot antipasti) and a glass of wine at Mattina’s Ristorante Italiano. Situated in a charming historic single-family home, Mattina’s Ristorante Italiano has been serving guests from around the world since 1986; 318 East Oak Street mattinasristorante.
For more information:
Call or visit the Kingman Visitor Center.
120 W. Andy Devine Ave, Kingman, AZ 86401