Historic Route 66 runs 2,238 miles between Chicago and Los Angeles and around 535 of those miles run through New Mexico. At every turn you’ll find something new and fun to see. Whether it’s a piece of original road, a classic diner, a weird roadside attraction, or an informative museum, New Mexico Route 66 attractions abound on the Mother Road.
Are you ready to get your kicks on New Mexico Route 66? Let’s check out the top 15 New Mexico Route 66 Attractions to see on this stretch of your road trip.
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- Top 15 New Mexico Route 66 Attractions
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Top 15 New Mexico Route 66 Attractions
Blue Swallow Motel
815 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Route 66 is famous for the bright neon signs that light up the way. And perhaps no neon sign on The Mother Road is more recognizable than the one at the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico.
This historic motel in Tucumcari has been greeting road trippers since 1939. It has all the vintage charm and friendly hospitality you could ask for in a Route 66 motel.
Route 66 Neon Drive-Thru Sign
600 W Santa Fe Ave, Grants, NM 87020
The Route 66 Neon Drive-Thru Sign is an 18-foot tall open portal big enough for a car to drive through. And that’s exactly what it was made for! Brightly lit up at night, you can drive through this giant neon Route 66 shield sign, making for a unique road trip photo op experience.
Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano
12000 Ice Caves Rd, Grants, NM 87020
The Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano is dubbed “The Land of Fire and Ice” for a reason. The attraction features two geographic phenomena that are stark opposites: a hot volcano and a cold ice cave. Hike the trails at this New Mexico Route 66 attraction to see both.
Tee Pee Curios
924 E Rte 66 Blvd, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Tee Pee Curios is a tee pee-shaped building with an iconic neon sign that is full of fun both inside and out! Known for its unique design, this building serves as a fun Route 66 roadside attraction and a souvenir shop to pick up those magnets, t-shirts, mugs, and postcards to commemorate your road trip. They also sell local New Mexican wares, like jewelry and pottery.
Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM 88435
The Blue Hole of Santa Rosa is a small lake/natural pool located in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. The attraction is open for swimming and is one of the most popular scuba diving destinations in the country.
1405 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106
Albuquerque’s 66 Diner is a retro-themed restaurant serving comfort food and diner fare (including hamburgers, New Mexican favorites, and milkshakes) with a 1950s slant. The decor features a vintage jukebox, soda fountain, and even a Pez collection. After your meal stop for photos with the wall of vintage advertising and road signs in the 66 Diner parking lot.
The Route 66 Musical Highway is a stretch of road, just outside Albuquerque, that plays America the Beautiful, when your tires drive over the specially constructed rumble strips at 45 miles per hour. While this tourist attraction is no longer maintained, a small section of the song remains. So keep your eyes, and ears, open to find the tune!
Route 66 Monument
1500 U.S. Rt. 66, Tucumcari, NM 88401
The Route 66 Monument in Tucumcari, New Mexico was dedicated in 1997. Titled “The Mother Road,” it was commissioned from sculptor Tom Coffin and celebrates the town’s place on Route 66.
Dog House Drive In
1216 Central Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
Opened in 1948, the Dog House Drive In attracts Route 66 enthusiasts and Breaking Bad who recognize it as one of the TV show’s filming locations. Check out the big neon sign with a hungry wiener dog and stay for a signature footlong chili dog (with or without cheese and/or onion) smothered in a thick, slightly spicy, chili.
Big Kachina Statue
827 Joseph M Montoya Blvd, Gallup, NM 87301
Since the 1950s there’s been at least one Big Kachina Statue greeting visitors to Gallup, New Mexico. Previously this big yellow sculpture stood outside of a visitors center on top of a sturdy base that declared “GALLUP NEW MEXICO THE INDIAN CAPITAL” or “GALLUP NEW MEXICO HEART OF INDIAN COUNTRY.” Nowadays the base is gone and the Big Kachina Statue stands on extended legs in front of a small park and the local fire office.
Historic El Rancho Hotel
1000 E Hwy 66, Gallup, NM 87301
The El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico was once known as the “Home of the Movie Stars.” Many Hollywood celebrities, such as John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, and Lucille Ball once stayed here while filming Westerns. Sleep in the same rooms they did and check out the restaurant where you can sample a Ronald Reagan Burger with a side of Jelly Beans.
La Cita Restaurant
820 S 1st St, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Hungry in Tucumcari? Look for the giant sombrero. La Cita Restaurant in Tucumcari, New Mexico serves tasty New Mexican favorites tucked away behind a sombrero-shaped entrance on Route 66, making it both one of the best restaurants and best roadside attractions in Tucumcari.
Since 1940s La Cita has offered tasty meals to Route 66 travelers, like enchiladas, tamale, and chile relleno, served with red or green salsa (or do “Christmas” style and get both!) and a fluffy sopapilla on the side.
The Ghost Town of Glenrio
U.S. Rt. 66, San Jon, NM 88434
Glenrio is a ghost town that straddles the Texas-New Mexico state line. It was once a thriving community along Route 66, but after being bypassed by Interstate 40 in the 1960s, the town has since fallen into disrepair. Today, Glenrio is a popular destination for Route 66 enthusiasts. Visitors can see the abandoned motels, gas stations, and restaurants that once lined the highway. There is also a visitor center that provides information about the town’s history and the Route 66 era.
El Vado Motel
2500 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM 87104
El Vado Court opened its doors to travelers in 1937, just one year after Route 66 was born, making it one of the first hotels in New Mexico to cater to those traveling on The Mother Road. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 and renovated in 2018, the motel features 22 guest rooms with mid-century furniture and decor, memory foam beds, cotton linens, eco-friendly toiletries, coffee stations, and large flat-screen TVs.
Whether you spend the night or not, stop by El Vado Motel on your Route 66 road trip, pull over to admire the now-iconic neon sign featuring a Native American figure in a headdress.
800 Eubank Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87123
Owl Cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico is best recognized for it’s owl-shaped building. But this Albuquerque roadside attraction is more than just a roadside attraction. It’s home to a retro diner that serves some of the best food on The Mother Road. Inside the restaurant feels like you stepped right into a classic 1950s diner, with more neon lights, chrome barstools, and mini jukeboxes at the tables. The menu features all the classic diner fare you’d expect with an extra New Mexican twist.