October 2019 – Back in the early- to mid-1900s, Route 66 was the main highway — the ONLY highway — between Chicago and Los Angeles, and looking back (with not quite 20-20 vision), it seems like it was 2,448 miles of sheer fun.
Earlier this week we stopped in for a visit at Seligman, Arizona, which we found out was the birthplace of Route 66!
Sometimes it’s not easy to trace historical roots accurately, so we’ve since found that Springfield, Missouri, is also considered to be the birthplace of Route 66…!
Either way, the little town of Seligman, Arizona, has just a few stores lining both sides of the main drag, and every single one is dolled up with decorations celebrating Route 66 history. Everywhere we looked we found another fabulous photo op!
This place is a memorabilia lover’s paradise and a great place to find gifts for loved ones.
Back in the day, Seligman was an important stop for motorists to gas up, and there were several gas stations in town. Nowadays, these gas stations have found new life as boutique gift shops, but the original architecture remains.
There were lots of vintage cars parked here and there, and Mark even found a motorcycle like the one James Dean rode!
Then he found James Dean himself. He was having a smoke outside a store.
Betty Boop was in town too, wearing a hot outfit and roller skates and serving burgers and drinks.
It seemed that every square inch of town offered a glimpse into times past. Music from the 50s played in the gift shop doorways, and relics from the early 1900s were all over the place.
Looking at our photos later, we even found an original Good Sam Club poster with Sam himself looking quite different than he does today!
Of course, there was plenty of history in this area long before Route 66 was built. This was the Wild West, after all!
We turned a corner and suddenly saw a classic old western storefront with a cowboy standing in a doorway on the porch and a few ladies of the night luring visitors to sit with them by the front door.
Obviously, Seligman is 100% a tourist town, and some might call it a tourist trap. But we loved it. And we weren’t the only ones. Several tour buses came in and disgorged groups of people looking for a souvenir and a photo of themselves eating a burger at a classic 1950s diner.
Tour buses and RVs aren’t the only way to get here, though! People come to Seligman in all kinds of vehicles.
As we admired various antiques in one shop, we noticed that all the tourists in the shop were decked out in black Harley Davidson logo motorcycle gear: black leather jackets, black t-shirts, black pants and boots with black leather chaps. And black bandanas on their heads. They’d ridden in on motorcycles and their bikes were parked out front.
We overheard them chatting among themselves, and it sounded like German. But Mark noticed a French flag on one of the bikes. I asked one of the fellows where they were from. “Europe!” he said. I kinda smirked, and he laughed and said, “Europe’s big. We’re from Holland.”
Well, Mark and I hadn’t been too far off! Dutch sounds a lot like German from a distance, and the Dutch flag looks much like the French flag flown sideways and with the colors reversed.
He told me his group of friends rides motorcycles together in Holland. They were on a two week loop tour going from the west coast to the Grand Canyon and back, hitting many fabulous stops along the way and doing it all on wonderfully scenic and swoopy roads ideal for motorcycle riding.
“Are your wives with you?” I asked, since I hadn’t seen a single Harley mama anywhere.
The fellow guffawed and winked at me.
This was definitely a two week trip these guys had dreamed of for a long time, and it had a boyhood sign all over it: “No girlz aloud.”
Foreign tourists traveling between the great American national parks stop in Seligman, Arizona, often, and one gift shop had a colorful spray of foreign currency under glass at the checkout counter. How totally cool was that!
We wandered the streets and poked our heads in the stores for a while longer. What a fun spot.
Seligman is an easy town to visit while traveling east-west on I-40 in Arizona.
There is an I-40 exit on either end of town, so you can pull off the interstate at one end of town, cruise into town on Route 66, park, walk around and have lunch, and then drive out on I-40 at the other end of town.
Route 66 goes right through the heart of Seligman, so you can also venture down the historic highway a ways, either east or west, and imagine what it was like for Americans travelers crossing the country on this skinny strip of road back in the early 1900s.
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More info about Seligman, Arizona:
- Seligman Arizona Tourism Info
- Interesting info about the origins and future of Route 66
- RV camping in and near Seligman
- Location of Seligman, Arizona
Other blog posts from our Arizona travels along I-40:
- Williams, Arizona – Home of the Grand Canyon Railway! 10/25/19
- Blue Mesa Trail – Lavender Beauty in Petrified Forest National Park 05/05/17
- Petrified Forest National Park RV Trip – Magic in Jasper Forest 04/28/17
- Getting Our Kicks on Route 66 by RV in AZ – Cool Springs, Winslow & Holbrook 04/24/17
- Parowan UT, Las Vegas NV, Williams AZ & Sycamore Canyon AZ – Wow! 08/28/11
- Wupatki Nat’l Monument – Ancient Indian Ruins & Great Camping in AZ! 08/25/11
- Sunset Crater, AZ – Looks Like it Exploded Yesterday! 06/15/08
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