You may recall that my older son, Grayson is a little obsessed with Disney Cars and Lightning McQueen (see this blog post on his Cars themed birthday party for evidence). So when we had the opportunity last summer to make a drive back to my home state of California, we thought it would be fun to add a little time to the drive back to Texas by following Route 66, and seeing some of the places that inspired the Disney movie. It was a lot of fun, and Grayson still refers to the things we saw on Route 66. Very cool!
At the time, Grayson was 3 1/2, and Sawyer about 15 months. They both did really well. My only advice on doing a long road trip with kids this age is to bring lots of toys and activities (an iPad really helps, as they can even watch cartoons on the Netflix app), and to stop as often as you need to for the little ones to stretch their legs and burn some energy. Fast food “play places” are great playgrounds that you will often find pretty often on a road trip.
Here are some of the places we hit along the way, in case it helps any of you plan your own Route 66 road trip, whether with a Cars theme or not.
The first thing I recommend is an app called Road Trip 66. You can use it to pre-flag spots you want to see on the route, and also to mark the spots you did see. It also shows you tons of landmarks by category so you can see what is coming up as you drive, along with some history and descriptions for each. Well worth the 99 cents, as this will be your family’s road trip companion!
The other things I found helpful in my planning were these articles on the real places and people of Route 66 that inspired Disney’s Cars (though we noticed that you can also learn a lot more by talking to the employees at some of these places along the way, as they had great stories to tell about their relation to the movie). The first article is The real Route 66 inspirations behind Disney’s Cars Land, and A Route 66 guide to the “Cars” movie was really helpful as well.
Note that I am mainly focusing on the Cars-related landmarks in this blog post, but there are many other great sights to see along the whole route, with so much history. The app mentioned above will help you learn more about those. In general, there are so many cool old businesses and ghost towns, as well as a lot of cool old neon signs.
Tucumcari Mountain in Tucumcari, New Mexico (inspiration for some of the scenery around Radiator Springs in the movie). Unfortunately, we didn’t get a photo of this one.
Looking forward to the next family travel adventure!