The iconic Route 66 covers quite a bit of the United States. It begins in Los Angeles and ends in Chicago but what about exploring just a portion? A road trip with family this summer? I am always looking for fun, lesser known adventures with my kids and this was no exception. This particular stretch of highway was from San Bernardino California to Needles California. Needles was a bit too far out of the way for us and after researching all of the available sights along the way, there wouldn’t have been time for it. If you have the time, then by all means take advantage and explore! We mapped out our multiple destinations, checked the weather, packed the cooler and headed out for an epic two-day road trip.
First Stop on Route 66
Amboy Crater along Route 66. Photo credit: Sara Pittman/ Frugal TravelingMom
Our first destination was Amboy California. A speck on the map about 45 minutes north of Yucca Valley…with extinct volcanos in the middle of the desert! A huge field of lava rocks lead you up to the historical Amboy Crater. You can actually inside which would have been amazing, however, it was 92 degrees at 7:30 am, so we opted to enjoy it from afar.
What a sight to see. How did I not know about this before? The kids were awestruck. The Amboy Crater has a viewing entrance and trail head with a large parking lot, clean restrooms, shade, picnic benches and it’s very own Geocache. It was the perfect spot for breakfast.
Hats and Sunscreen!
Iconic Hollywood location, Roy’s Motel, along Route 66. Photo credit: Sara Pittman/ Frugal TravelingMom
On our way out of Amboy we passed the iconic “Roy’s Motel” which has been used as a back drop in a number of Hollywood films.
We headed toward the Mojave Preserve for some more volcanoes. It was hot as we traveled in June and if you are not equipped with a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water, you will be sorry. Not just sorry, but it will be dangerous. The Mojave Preserve is in the middle of nowhere and you need to be smart. If you or your children are heat sensitive, DO NOT visit from May through September.
Lava Fields. Photo credit: Sara Pittman/ Frugal TravelingMom
We took a short hike up the side of a volcanic crater that was not too far from the car and the kids marveled at the incredible formations the lava had created. It is difficult to put into words how awesome it was to stand in the middle of an ancient lava flow and be surrounded by extinct volcanic craters only hours from home.
Bottle Tree Ranch Photo credit Sara Pittman/ Frugal TravelingMom
We ate lunch in the car and headed west towards Oro Grande Ca and the eccentric road side attraction that is “Bottle Tree Ranch.” This is a must see.
Vintage signs, sewing machines, and bottles everywhere! The owner has transformed trash and what some would classify as junk into art. The various colored bottles sparkling in the sun as you meander through tidbits of history and color is a magnificent sight.
It is important to note that kids like to touch things. Have a quick conversation with them in regards to the bottles and the fact that they should not be touched. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to touch and try out, but the bottles are not one of them. Also, closed toed shoes are appropriate here.
Stay in Your Very Own Wigwam!
Stay in your own person wigwam along Route 66. Photo credit: Sara Pittman/ Frugal TravelingMom
headed south towards San Bernardino to our motel for the night. Not just any motel by the way, The Wigwam Motel. The coolest, quirkiest, most eclectic little place I’ve ever had the privilege of spending the night in. You and your family can stay in your own personal wigwam. The owners were fantastic and after the heat of the day, we relaxed at the pool and grilled hot dogs on the poolside BBQ. Comfortable beds, hot generously pressured showers and even a geocache to end our stay.
If you are traveling in this vicinity, do yourself a favor and check out this place.
Breakfast at Emma Jean’s
The following morning we headed back north to Victorville for a homestyle breakfast at Emma Jean’s Holland Burger. This diner is the oldest standing restaurant in the Victorville area (1947) and is just down the street from the historical Route 66 Museum.
It has been featured on the Food Network and in various movies. Let me just tell you that you must try the “Brian Burger.” It is pure deliciousness. I added a fried egg to the burger because it was breakfast time after all. I have had dreams about this burger. That’s how great it is. Also the biscuits and gravy reminded me of my grandmother’s, and no restaurant has ever been able to spark up that nostalgia for me. Great food and good people.
Adventure and History!
With full bellies and adventure on the brain, we headed down the street to the Route 66 museum. This is a perfect spot for the kids. They can see and touch much of the historical nostalgia on exhibit as well as learn some fun facts about the Mother Road.
Route 66 Museum. Photo credit: Sara Pittman/ Frugal TravelingMm
Having to explain to my kids what a rotary phone was and how it worked really put things into prospective for me.
The volunteers on site are an endless source of knowledge and incredibly welcoming. Feel free to ask them anything!
The souvenirs range from the expensive and breakable kind to classic toy cars, and fun soda bottles. We spent more time letting the kids pick out their gifts then we did touring the museum.
On the drive home we were inundated by the kids’ comments and questions about what they had seen and learned at the museum, how difficult it would be to make their very own wigwam and most importantly when we were going to take this road trip again.
This was something that none of us had experienced separately but were all able to experience together. That’s what made it so special and exciting. If you love road trips, a trek along a portion of the Mother Road is a great way to see some truly amazing things and spark your children’s sense of adventure without committing to multiple days of driving.
If you’re not in California, check out these other short stretches of Route 66 in other parts of the US:
Sara Pittman is a writer/blogger and mother of 3. She writes about the reality of parenting and the love and chaos of life as a wife and mother with plenty of humor and sarcasm. Traveling and outdoor adventure are something that she is most passionate about and will always make time for with her family.