Route 66 ~ The Mother Road

Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California

September 28 – October 16, 2021 • 19 Days • $5390

Join us as we trace the Mother Road from Chicago to Santa Monica, connecting with the nostalgia of America’s coming of age as we wind our way through 8 states from Illinois to California!

Tour Type: Classic Curated


  • All land travel as outlined
  • Tourist class or better hotel accommodations
  • 19 meals: 14 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 4 dinners as listed (BLD)
  • 13 walk routes
  • Fees for 9 walk stamps for those collecting AVA credit
  • 2 additional optional walk routes (Day 5 & 15)
  • WAI guide service throughout
  • Cultural and historical expertise of local guides at select points of interest
  • All tipping for coach driver, local guides, and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $1,225. We provide a roommate matching service for those interested.

Optional Activities:

  • Dinner and tour at Coleman Theater in Miami, Oklahoma (Day 7)
  • Grand Canyon National Park day trip with walk along the South Rim (Day 15)

Visits to/Activities:

  • Chicago Architecture Cruise
  • Pontiac Museum Complex & trolley
  • Abraham Lincoln Museum
  • Lincoln Tomb
  • Ted Drewes
  • Baxter Springs Heritage Museum
  • Will Rogers Memorial Museum
  • Route 66 Interpretive Center
  • Oklahoma state capitol tour
  • Oklahoma Route 66 Museum
  • Elk City Museum Complex
  • Devil’s Rope Museum
  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park
  • Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta – Balloon Glow
  • Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta – Mass Ascension
  • El Morro National Monument
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Arizona Route 66 Museum
  • Countless Route 66 stops along the Mother Road

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Contact Us

Important Info

Group Size

7-18 travelers. If group size drops below 12, passenger vans may be used (up to 7 people in a 15-passenger van), which requires an increase in tour price of approximately $50 per person per day.


Included. For groups of 12 to 18, we use motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 50+ seats. For groups of 7 to 12, we use one or two 15 pax vans, seating no more than 7 travelers in each van. If vans are used, they are driven by WAI guides. Van transport requires an increase in tour price of approximately $50 per person per day.


Not included. Travelers on the full tour will fly into Chicago, IL and fly home from Los Angeles, CA.


Strategically located Tourist Class hotels or better


Most breakfasts are included. A handful of other group meals are included. Occasional stops will be made at grocery stores and most hotel rooms have mini-refrigerators. Several stops will be made at Route 66-style diners for no-host meals.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!


Click on each day to reveal more details. BLD refers to meals included: Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. 

Day 1-Sep 28: Arrive Chicago, Illinois

Our Adventure along Route 66, referred to by John Steinbeck as “the Mother Road” and “America’s Main Street,” begins today in the Windy City of Chicago! Travelers can anticipate a deep connection with the heartland of America along the entire 2,448-mile route in all eight states including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Because travelers arrive throughout the day, the first official group activity is our Welcome Orientation this evening at our strategically located hotel, across from Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Day 2-Sep 29: Chicago – Pontiac, Illinois (BD)

Chicago Lake Michigan & Windy City Walk – 9 km, rated 1A

Today starts with breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant, a Chicago institution since 1923 and a fixture at the beginning (or end) of Route 66 since the road opened in 1926. Our morning walk passes Windy City classics like the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and a long, lovely stretch along Lake Michigan past Navy Pier and onto the Chicago Riverwalk. After free time for lunch, we board a riverboat for the justly famed architectural cruise up the Chicago River. Excellent commentary unlocks a vast store of intriguing Chicagoan history and more architectural wonders per square foot of riverfront than we’ve seen anywhere! By mid-afternoon, our 2,400+ mile pilgrimage to Santa Monica, California begins. After a bit of freeway, we pick up the Mother Road as it snakes through small towns and farmland to our dinner at another Route 66 icon–the Old Log Cabin Inn in Pontiac.

Day 3-Sep 30: Pontiac – Springfield, Illinois (B)

Pontiac is a fun little Route 66 town with a surprising batch of museums and friendly locals proud to share their town. A trolley ride winds past a delightful array of murals and points out connections to attorney Abraham Lincoln in his pre-presidential days. The Pontiac Museum Complex is a trove of local lore, including a floor dedicated to Route 66, an astonishingly detailed tribute to armed services members from Livingstone County, and several other high-quality exhibits. Today’s no-host lunch is at Dixie Café, laying claim as the country’s oldest truck stop. Not far down the road, the afternoon is reserved for the outstanding Abraham Lincoln Museum, with multiple exhibits and films paying tribute to the life and times of our 16th president who guided us through what many historians consider to be America’s most trying era.

Day 4-Oct 1: Springfield – St. Louis, Missouri (B)

Abe Lincoln Springfield Capitol Walk – 6 km, rated 1A

Our Springfield walk traces the heritage of Abraham Lincoln, passing the state capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, and the Lincoln Home (a national park site). After paying tribute at the Lincoln Tomb, we enjoy a no-host Route 66 lunch at Cozy Dog Drive-In, creator of the first corn dogs. Following the Mother Road (interposed with some sections of freeway), we continue south through pleasing rural scenes and cross the border to St. Louis, Missouri for a two-night stay.

Day 5-Oct 2: Activities in St. Louis (B)

St. Louis Amazing Arch Walk – 5/10 km, rated 1A
Forest Park Walk – 10 km, rated 1A (optional)

Starting and finishing from our hotel, today’s walk encompasses many of the highlights of St. Louis, including the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (free admission) and the famous Gateway Arch (admission not included). Other highlights of this outstanding introduction to St. Louis include St. Louis City Hall (a near-perfect replica of Paris’ Hotel de Ville), the Renaissance Grand Hotel (the first hotel in the country to feature air conditioning), the Old Courthouse (where slave auctions were held until abolitionists blocked them in 1861), Busch Stadium (home of the St. Louis Cardinals), and Union Station.

Early this afternoon, join us for an excursion to Ted Drewes, purveyor of delicious frozen custard desserts and a Route 66 icon since 1929. From Ted Drewes, walkers interested in today’s second walk or travelers who’d like to do more exploring will be dropped off at Forest Park. Larger than New York’s Central Park, Forest Park was opened in 1876, hosted both the 1904 World’s Fair and 1904 Summer Olympics, and boasts a bevy of top-notch points of interest like Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis Art Museum, the Jewel Box greenhouse, and much, much more.  The entire walk takes place inside phenomenal, expansive Forest Park. Admission is free to all the sites within Forest Park.

Day 6-Oct 3: St. Louis – Lebanon, Missouri (BD)

Cuba Mural Walk – 6 km, rated 1A

Route 66 leads us diagonally across Missouri all the way to Cuba…Missouri, that is! This friendly Route 66 town welcomes us with a creative collection of murals and picturesque, small-town Ozark neighborhoods. Several quirky, nostalgic Route 66 stops dot our afternoon drive through the Ozarks to Lebanon where we overnight in one of the few remaining Mother Road motels. Posh accommodations are not the goal tonight, but we think you’ll be comfortable and a pizza party in the courtyard seemed like just the right degree of cozy informality to complement tonight’s lodgings.

Day 7-Oct 4: Lebanon – Miami, Oklahoma (B)

Baxter Springs Walk (KS) – 6 km, rated 1A

We start our day with a pair of Route 66 stops, oozing with more classic Old Road character, on the western edge of Missouri before crossing into Kansas. The state of Kansas lays claim to only 13 miles of the Route, and about half way through we stop for a no-host, deli sandwich lunch at Nelson’s Old Riverton Store (est. 1925).  This surprising little corner of Kansas offers more than its share of historical drama, including the 1863 Battle of Baxter Springs between Quantrill’s Raiders and Union forces. Our Kansas walk features Baxter Springs and finishes at the excellent Baxter Springs Heritage Museum, one of the better small-town museums we’ve seen. Crossing into Oklahoma, we pass through Mickey Mantle’s home town of Commerce en route to the small Route 66 town of Miami (pronounced “my-am-uh”).

After a full day along the Route, an optional dinner is offered this evening at Miami’s Coleman Theater, 1929 contemporary of Route 66 designed with an elaborate Mission Revival exterior and a stunning Louis XV interior. A tour of this classic theater is included after dinner. Estimated price: $40 per person.

Day 8-Oct 5: Miami – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (B)

In 1952, the U.S. Highway 66 Association dubbed Route 66 “Will Rogers Highway”. We learn why when we arrive in Claremore this morning to visit the Will Rogers Memorial Museum and reflect on the life of this beloved humorist, trick roper, actor, newspaper columnist, and social commentator. Just south of Claremore is the Blue Whale, an obligatory stop for any serious Route 66 traveler!

The Route 66 Interpretive Center in Chandler offers a fun set of films (viewed from the bench seats of classic cars) and exhibits about the Route. Oklahoma has more drivable miles of Route 66 (over 400) than any other state! We cover a good percentage of those today, with more fun or historic points of interest punctuating our drive into Oklahoma City, where we spend the night in Bricktown.

Day 9-Oct 6: Oklahoma City – Elk City, Oklahoma (B)

Oklahoma City Walk – 6/10 km, rated 1A

Our Oklahoma City Walk features the Bricktown Canal walkway with the spectacular Centennial Land Run Monument–one of the world’s largest with 45 bronze figures frozen in time during the dramatic Land Run of 1889. Also along the trail are the seven-story, cylindrical Crystal Bridge at Myriad Botanical Gardens and the evocative Oklahoma City National Memorial, eulogizing those lost in the tragic bombing of 1995. Ample time is allowed to visit the memorial museum (admission not included) before we bus to the state capitol for a docent-led visit of the only capitol in the world with its own oil well on site.

NOTE: Travelers who opt for today’s 10 km walk route will use the local club’s self-guided directions and walk by the capitol but would not be with the group for the guided tour. Following free time for lunch in Bricktown, we pick up the Route westbound, headed for Clinton and one of the most popular Route 66 museums along the highway.

Day 10-Oct 7: Elk City – Canyon, Texas (BD)

The Elk City Museum Complex offers an expansive and intriguing glimpse, not only into Route 66 but into all facets of traditional lifestyle of Oklahomans in this part of the state. Several fun western towns lay on our route into Texas, where our first stop in the Lone Star State is the Devil’s Rope Museum (aka “barbed wire”). You may be surprised at the interesting gap in your knowledge of western lore that is closed by this stop!

A memorable dinner at the Big Texan Steakhouse makes good the boast that everything is big in Texas; their 72-ounce steak is on the house, provided you can eat it in the space of 60 minutes! We spend this evening in a Route 66 vintage motel in the small town of Canyon, Texas.

Day 11-Oct 8: Canyon – Las Vegas, New Mexico

Palo Duro Canyon Walk – 5 km, rated 1A

Just east of Canyon is the geological phenomenon for which it is named. Our walk of the day is in Palo Duro Canyon, second-largest in the USA at roughly 120 miles long and six miles wide on average. Continuing our westward pilgrimage, we stop for a photo of the eclectic Cadillac Ranch then pay homage at the remains of Glenrio, a true Route 66 ghost town straddling the Texas/New Mexico border. A brief stop in the Mother Road town of Tucumcari precedes a panoramic New Mexico drive north to Las Vegas.

This is not the town of casinos in Nevada; Las Vegas, New Mexico is a true western cowboy town settled in 1835 by ranchers who received a land grant from Mexico. The Santa Fe Trail, Teddy Roosevelt and Rough Rider Reunions, Cowboy Reunions, and a nasty reputation for outlaws and desperadoes are all part of Las Vegas lore, which includes more than 900 buildings on the State and National Register of Historic Places.

Day 12-Oct 9: Las Vegas – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Santa Fe Walk – 5/10/11 km, rated 1A

The majority of today is devoted to a popular walk through New Mexico’s capital, established in 1610, ten years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock. A captivating tapestry of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo cultures gives us insight into the heritage of New Mexico as we stroll past the capitol building, the original Palace of the Governors, and the 17th century San Miguel Mission Church. This evening, we are down the road at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. The largest hot air balloon event in the world draws hundreds of balloonists with crafts of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Tonight’s event is the Balloon Glow when brightly colored balloons take to the night skies like glowing Christmas ornaments on a celestial Christmas tree–it’s breathtaking!

Day 13-Oct 10: Albuquerque – Gallup, New Mexico (B)

El Morro Walk – 4 km, rated 2B (unsanctioned)

This morning’s Fiesta highlight is a Mass Ascension of all balloons, an event claimed to be the most photographed happening in the world! Following this hot air high, we explore Route 66 sights in Old Town Albuquerque by bus before continuing our journey west. Picturesque stretches of Route 66 take us to Grants for a picnic lunch, before we leave 66 to discover a different side of New Mexico’s charms.

After scenic driving through rugged, lava-ravaged landscapes, this afternoon’s walk route ascends a monolithic sandstone structure that once housed a sophisticated pueblo. Views from the top are expansive, and the return journey takes us past an inscription wall where soft, smooth sandstone proved irresistible to graphic artists going back hundreds of years. We lodge tonight in the iconic El Rancho Hotel, bursting with Route 66, Old West ambiance and frequent home to stars of yesteryear like Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Spencer Tracy, Ronald Reagan, and Katherine Hepburn.

Day 14-Oct 11: Gallup – Williams, Arizona

Blue Mesa Walk – 2 km, rated 2A
Billings Gap Walk – 4 km, rated 1B

We follow the open road westward into Arizona this morning stopping first at Petrified Forest National Park. Wrapping around the upper part of the park is Painted Desert, a series of multi-hued badlands in the northern part of Arizona providing a kaleidoscope of bizarre, mineral-induced, colored formations. The lower end of the park is where the beautifully marbled chunks of petrified wood lie strewn around the desert like a discarded game of oversized, prehistoric, pick-up sticks. A duo of remarkable trails take us up close and personal to these Arizona natural wonders.

After “standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona”, we better appreciate the feelings of song writer Jackson Browne of the 1970’s Eagles band who was briefly stranded in Winslow after a car breakdown before penning the famous song. We were surprised by Williams, Arizona and considered it our favorite Route 66 town! We stay here two nights, using it as a base to explore the Grand Canyon!

Day 15-Oct 12: Activities from Williams (B)

Optional Grand Canyon South Rim Walk – 5/10 KM, rated 1A/2B

After nearly two weeks of our busy, nostalgic-packed odyssey along the Mother Road, today is a free day. Our hotel is just a few minutes from the shops,  restaurants, and diners of Route 66; browsing, window-shopping, and snacking are a great way to enjoy the Route 66 ambiance and relax.

For those eager to keep moving, however, the Grand Canyon is within striking distance! Grand Canyon National Park is currently not accepting groups, so though your guide will be along for the fun, this is officially a no-host opportunity. There are two ways to get to the Canyon, by vintage railroad or by renting a car and sharing the cost. Grand Canyon Railway charges about $85 per person round-trip in coach class. The train departs at 9:30 am (train station walkable from our hotel) and arrives at the Canyon at 11:45 am. You can return on either the 3:30 or 4:30 pm train, getting back before 7 pm. The other idea is to rent a car, making the trip cheaper (you can share the cost) and spending less time en route and more time at the Canyon.

WAI has a set of walk directions you can use if you like, but it’s pretty hard to get lost on the excellent Rim Trail. It’s hard to imagine a more conspicuous landmark than the spectacular Grand Canyon, easily one of planet Earth’s most stupendous spectacles!

Day 16-Oct 13: Williams – Needles, California (B)

We leave Williams today, continuing along Route 66 to travel the best-preserved section of the Mother Road. Our midmorning stop in Seligman offers a colorful handful of Route 66 diners and gift shops, including the fabled Snow Cap Drive-In Restaurant, a Route 66 icon started by Juan Delgadillo. Juan’s brother, Angel, is widely considered the “Father of the Mother Road” for successfully petitioning for “Historic Route 66” signage and designation for the Road in Arizona, a 1980s movement that carried to the other seven states.

We continue along 66 from Seligman to Kingman for a diner lunch (not included)  and a visit to an excellent Route 66 museum. The last Route 66 stop of the day is the old mining village of Oatman, known for the semi-wild burros that wander the main street panhandling for donkey food sold by local vendors. We overnight across the border in Needles, California in preparation for tomorrow’s final run to the Pacific!

Day 17-Oct 14: Needles – Marina del Rey, California (L)

Beverly Hills Walk – 6 km, rated 1A

Beyond Needles, the dreaded heat of the Mohave Desert awaits.  Feared by drivers of less reliable, older vehicles more than any other stretch of Route 66, we better understand this anxiety as we cruise the parched and unforgiving but often picturesque desert. A last Route 66 diner in Victorville offers a mid-day break for lunch before we cross a final range of mountains for the coast.

Beverly Hills is our objective; a walk here takes us through two famous segments–homes of the rich and famous and Rodeo Drive, the ultra-posh shopping district where seeing and being seen is more important that what you buy. We end the day in a lovely hotel in Marina del Rey in anticipation of finishing Route 66 in style tomorrow!

Day 18-Oct 15: Activities from Marina del Rey (BD)

Santa Monica End of the Road Walk – 8/11 km, rated 1A

The Mother Road ends at the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Ocean Avenue, a stone’s throw from the waves of the Pacific in the popular ocean resort town of Santa Monica. The final walk starts from our hotel in Marina del Rey and winds through upscale neighborhoods and along the canals of Venice to the beach. A stretch along the Ocean Front Walk–a lengthy and colorful seaside promenade that includes Venice Beach Boardwalk, Venice Muscle Beach, and several parks, finishes at the Santa Monica Pier, right next to the end of Route 66 on Ocean Avenue.

You have all day to enjoy this walk and explore “end of the road” attractions such as one of Santa Monica’s many museums, public murals and monuments along the walk, shops and restaurants along the pier, a Venice Beach food tour for lunch, or any of a host of bike, Segway, or bus tours offered in the Santa Monica/Los Angeles area. Then join us for a fun and relaxing Farewell Dinner tonight to reminisce about our memorable journey along the Mother Road!

Day 19-Oct 16: Depart Marina del Rey (B)

Make your way to the Los Angeles International Airport this morning, bidding farewell to fellow Route 66 Roadies before returning to your own corner of America. As the song says, we “got our kicks on Route 66.” We connected with our country on a road less traveled down the Main Street of America; on a road obstructed by traffic signals and stop signs that made us slow down; on a road representing a time when relationships trumped efficiency. Thanks for sharing this nostalgic mother of all road trips along the Mother Road.

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

If pricing or dates are not yet available for a tour, you can express interest by hitting the Join the List button on the right-hand side of this webpage. Getting your name on this list gives you priority notification when dates are finalized and pricing is ready. You’ll receive an email a week before the completed brochure is posted on our website and registration is open to the public.

To register, a transferable $200 deposit is required to hold your spot. This amount is non-refundable; however, up until 60 days before departure, it can be transferred to a different tour.  A final payment is due 60 days before departure and you will receive a prompt email from us a week or two in advance. Once paid, this final payment is not refundable. Please see the link below to our General Tour Conditions to see the full terms and conditions for participation in this Adventure.

An email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after registration, with important details about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.

Please follow this link to read our full General Tour Conditions.

Unique Aspects of this Tour

Route 66 vs. Freeway Miles

Route 66 was first opened in 1926. It began to change almost immediately as planners and engineers looked for more efficient ways for automobile traffic to traverse the space between Chicago and Santa Monica. As a result, there are often multiple iterations or “alignments” of the road according to when they were used. In many cases, the road was covered by subsequent freeway construction.

We will not be on Route 66 for the entire 2,448 miles of the original road. That is no longer possible because of the covering of the road by freeway in some cases and by the impassable condition of the road in other places. We will, however, travel significant sections of Route 66, and our planners have selected what we believe are the most interesting sections of the road to share, those that reflect the spirit of Route 66.

We intentionally avoid long sections of freeway frontage road that are labeled “Route 66” but simply run adjacent to the freeway and offer little interest or value. Instead, we are in search of sections of the route that take us through the countryside of America and through the small towns whose fortunes ebbed and flowed with the pulse of traffic along Route 66. It’s an epic journey, and we hope you can join us!

What's a Classic Curated Tour?

With help from local experts and walking guides, these itineraries are hand-crafted with extensive on-site planning by WAI tour planners.

When planning Classic Curated Tours, our objective is to capture the essence of a destination–the history, culture, and natural wonders unique to that part of the world. We then build activities and walks that take us inside these characteristics.

Yes, these tours are educational, but they are also interactive and immersive; walking gets us off the bus and penetrates local cultures to not only see, but touch, smell, and feel these special spaces.

Along the way, interactions with locals amplify the experience as they share insights into the magic of that particular location.

Walk Difficulty

Walks on this tour are a combination of trails planned in partnership with local walking clubs and vetted by our WAI guide team or planned on site by WAI tour planners. As a group, this is an easy collection of trails, most rated as 1A, the easiest category in our rating system (see Walk Ratings below). Because we are on Route 66, many of these trails explore towns and cities along the Route, and are therefore on sidewalks and hard surfaces rather than natural trails.

Walk Ratings

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Because these are group walks, the success of the walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness in order to ensure that we are walking at a somewhat similar pace. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:


1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.


A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

Elevation on Tour

Our route through the central and western states will involve walks and overnight accommodations at multiple elevations.  From our start in Chicago and until we arrive in Santa Fe, elevation does not generally go over 1500 feet above sea level.  In New Mexico and Arizona, however, elevations are in the range of 5300 to 7200 feet above sea level before decreasing again when we arrive in California.

The elevation of our hotels—where we overnight—has a greater impact on us physically than where we travel or walk during the day. That is, the elevation of where you sleep overnight is usually more important than the elevation of activities during the day. For four nights, our hotels in New Mexico and Arizona are located between 5300 and 7200 feet above sea level.  Activities are generally in that range as well.

The Grand Canyon and El Morro walks are our highest elevation walks, where we are at about 7100 feet above sea level. It is important to pursue any concerns you have about altitude with your doctor. As always, travelers are free to opt out of any activities.

Tour Accommodations

Good quality, tourist-class accommodations are the standard for our Adventure. Most accommodations on this tour are selected primarily as a practical base from which to pursue our itinerary. Because much of this Adventure is in small towns, a few of our properties are quality motels reflecting the spirit of Historic Route 66, which we think you’ll enjoy.

Most, but not all, of our accommodations on this adventure are single-floor or have elevators. Travelers should be able to carry their luggage up a number of steps to get to a second-floor room if necessary.

How is Airfare Arranged?

The official start point for Route 66 ~ The Mother Road is our hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The nearest airports are Chicago O’Hare International Airport (airport code ORD) which is about 60 minutes from our hotel, and Chicago Midway International Airport (airport code MDW) which is about 30 minutes from our hotel.

The finish point is our hotel in Marina del Mar, California. The nearest airport is the Los Angeles International Airport (airport code LAX), about a 15-minute taxi ride from our hotel.

In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent can be a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided by email after you register for the Adventure. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. This is now especially true in the era of COVID-19, which is typically treated like any other illness for travel insurance purposes. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler and Sharon Mitchell of World Travel Inc. are travel agents who provide air travel and insurance services to many WAI travelers.

Check out Insurance Tips from World Travel for a short introduction to travel insurance. (NOTE: WAI receives no commission or financial remuneration from World Travel Inc.).

As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

  • Allianz
  • Betins
  • Travel Guard
  • Travel Insured International

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). Travelers interested in purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance coverage should be careful to check pricing and terms BEFORE they register for a tour. Recent changes in the international travel landscape has caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.

Tour Cancellations

Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel this tour departure with fewer than 12 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received. This refund policy contains one exclusion related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many suppliers require non-refundable deposits as a condition of booking services. Unforeseen circumstances linked to the virus can force us to cancel a tour. Due to these supplier’s non-refundable policies, WAI makes every effort to retrieve as much of these deposits as possible, but cannot guarantee a 100% refund. In cases where full refunds cannot be obtained for a cancelled tour, we will do our best to transfer unrefunded money as traveler credits to be applied to a future tour to that destination.

View our full Coronavirus FAQ for more details.

COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

The Our Approach to Fun but Prudent Travel document identifies and explains Covid-19 mitigation policies and procedures WAI is using as a starting point for our 2021 tours. Because the knowledge base about COVID-19 changes daily, we review these policies and procedures on an ongoing basis, and will, of course, notify travelers on tour of updates as we approach the departure date of your tour.

Contact our office with any questions at 360.260.9393 or [email protected].

COVID-19 Travel Waiver

During this age of COVID-19, WAI evaluates worldwide reports and conditions on an ongoing basis. Please read our COVID-19 Policies and Procedures document before signing the COVID-19 Travel Waiver. Participation in this tour requires your signature on the COVID-19 Travel Waiver.

Contact our office with any questions at 360.260.9393 or [email protected].

What Happens Next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome email and initial invoice notifying you of your tour balance and due date. You will be able to make that payment online or over the phone. Any other payments necessary for optional services or one-off decisions can also be made this way.

An Flight Arrangements email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after registration, with important steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review this Flight Arrangements email.

About 70 days before departure, you will receive a final statement reminder about the final tour payment, which is due 60 days before departure. Once paid, this final payment is not refundable. Please see our General Tour Conditions for the full terms and conditions for participation in this Adventure.

Around two weeks before departure, you will receive a final email packet with the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Take a few minutes to peruse the enclosed itinerary. In the end, we think you will agree that walking is still and always the best way to experience our world. Join us for this nostalgic Walking Adventure program through Route 66—The Mother Road!

Your Guides

Tim Friesen and Dan Friesen

Dan Friesen, owner of Walking Adventures International, has been guiding tours for 30 years on all 7 continents. He has hiked the Great Wall of China, hobnobbed with penguins in Antarctica, felt the spray of Iguaçu Falls in Brazil, trekked through the shadows of the Pyramids of Giza, yodeled from the heights of the Swiss Alps, and walked the ruins of majestic Machu Picchu. Yet, his home and heart are with the United States, with its distinctive history, unique blend of cultural heritages, and notable landscapes and highlights.

Dan’s brother, Tim Friesen, has been guiding for Walking Adventures since 2003, most often leading our summertime adventures in Europe. Throughout the school year, Tim works as a high school music teacher in Molalla, Oregon, and is occasionally known to burst into song on the trail!

In 2019, the brothers took to ‘The Mother Road’ scouting out the best haunts and venues for this nostalgic highway linking Chicago to Santa Monica. Along the way, Dan and Tim were taken with this indelible part of America’s past, and look forward to sharing America’s Route 66 with you!