On our Route 66 road trip through Illinois, we stopped by the most charming town of Pontiac. It was the perfect stop to stretch our legs as well as learn more about the Mother Road.
Learn all about Route 66
Pontiac is home to not one, but 4 museums. And guess what? They are free (donations accepted)! A must-see is the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame packed full of Route 66 memorabilia. A highlight for kids may be seeing the Bob Waldmire’s VW van which was modeled for Fillmore from Disney’s Cars.
See the War Museum
In the same building as the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame is the Livingston County War Museum.
After taking the time to go through the museums, we went around back for a photo op with the mural of World’s Largest Route 66 shield. (See the bricks in front of the mural? These were once part of the original Route 66 alignment through town.) We also found Bob Waldmire’s 1966 school bus aka his “Road Yacht.”
Tip: See those footprints on the sidewalks? Follow the footprints to either the murals or attractions.
See more murals
Besides the largest Route 66 shield behind the museum, there are over 20 other murals located around town. If you’re short on time many of them are located in the same alley as the Route 66 shield. Another one not to miss is the 66 foot long Waldmire Memorial mural dedicated to the Mother Road legend. Cool fact: Bob designed the mural before he died and about 500 of his friends painted it. Look for the hand prints.
Walk around town
We took a short walk through town to reach our next destination. What a charming town full of cute shops and a magnificent courthouse in the square!
Snap pics with the art cars
These small, art cars are so dang cute! We found a few of them just walking around town.
See Pontiac cars
It only makes sense to have a museum full of Pontiac cars in Pontiac, Illinois. Right? Car aficionados will adore the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum with antique and classic cars.
Tip: For a fun souvenir, have the kids pick out a Pontiac Hot Wheels car.
Make a pit stop at Wally’s
If you need gas or food or cool souvenirs, Wally’s is a must stop. Heck, Wally’s is a must see no matter what and one the Griswalds would be proud of. Not only is it an awesome gas station with clean bathrooms, but they offer so much more! Besides all the fun shopping opportunities, Wally’s has Kemp’s ice cream, baked goods, a grill, “sloosh,” aka slushy machines,homemade beef jerky, a coffee bar with Intelligentsia coffee, and kombucha on tap (ginger lemon is so good!) We spent waaay too long here and it was just about dinner time so we grabbed some food. The pre-packaged salads are delicious and fresh. (We figured we needed salads and wraps to offset the fried foods that we ate earlier.)
Other Things to See in Pontiac:
I wish had more time to explore but we were already running out of time.
- Seasons of Life Statues made of steel plates
- Step foot on the swinging bridges.
- On a quest to find Honest Abe? There are 9 Looking for Lincoln sites here!
Looking for the ultimate Illinois Route 66 fun with kids? I detail all the stops here!