RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Lonely Planet Road Trip: Route 66, by Sara Benson

Route 66
Evidence that good things do come in small packages, Lonely Planet's new guide to Route 66 is one book you'll have room for no matter how lightly you travel. Author Sara Benson has successfully distilled the 2200-mile Mother Road into 64 info-packed pages. The truly amazing thing is that this diminutive guide not only does its subject justice, it has eight excellent, full-color maps that will get you from Chicago to Santa Monica on as much of Route 66 as you care to experience.

Benson, who "destroyed her car by driving 7000 miles to research this book," not only details the route itself, but also notes side trips along the way as well as suggestions for places to eat, stay, and enjoy entertainment. While it's organized for travelers making the classic Grapes of Wrath-style east-to-west journey, the book is just as useful for those journeying the other direction.

In addition to routes, attractions, history, and trivia, Benson has included lots of sidebars on topics including nostalgic road music, Indian pueblos, "mini-museums" you might otherwise miss, Route 66 radio stations, places where you can get good views of the landscape, and things to do with kids. Boxes titled "Detours" cover places within a short distance of Route 66 like Las Vegas, Branson, and the Grand Canyon. In addition, Benson has included lots of online resources throughout the guide. Hours, prices, addresses, and telephone numbers are listed for all attractions, eateries, and lodging. While it's obviously designed for taking along, Route 66 is also a terrific resource for planning and budgeting.

I still can't get over how much is packed into this slim guidebook, and I'm also impressed with its high-quality binding. The cover and the route maps are printed on sturdy tear-resistant stock that is not only tough and water-resistant but also nice to the touch. It's a book that will survive the journey from Illinois to California whether you store it carefully in a glove box or cram it into your back pocket. Either way, its value far exceeds the space it occupies.


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