Road trip on Route 66 to Atlanta, Illinois

Route 66 Road Trip to Atlanta, Illinois

The Atlanta, Illinois Route 66 Park

U.S. Route 66 was one of the United State's first continuous stretches of paved highway, and served as a major path for those who migrated west.

"The Mother Road" was established on November 11, 1926, and ultimately stretched 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Most travelers seem to start their journey on Route 66 in Chicago, and head westbound. That is the direction we take on this website. But others start in Santa Monica and drive eastward to Chicago.

The beginning point of Route 66 in Chicago has changed over the years. Today, the starting point is at East Adams Street at South Michigan Avenue, and the end point is at East Jackson at South Michigan. One way streets in the area can be difficult to navigate for first-time Route 66 visitors!

Outside the metropolitan Chicago area, Route 66 followed the Pontiac Trail, a former Indian trail and stagecoach road.

From its beginning in Chicago, Route 66 headed southwest to Joliet, Pontiac, Lexington, Towanda and into Atlanta.

Atlanta, Illinois

Founded in 1853, Atlanta is located in Logan County Illinois, on Interstate I-55 and Historic Route 66. It is home to more than 1,600 residents, and is located midway on the Mother Road in Illinois, between Chicago and St. Louis.

The community was a frequent stop for Abraham Lincoln when he was traveling as a lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit, in the mid 19th Century. A stop at the Atlanta Museum and the Looking for Lincoln historical marker, in downtown Atlanta, give windows into his connections and visits to the town.

In 1926, the original Route 66 alignment ran right through downtown Atlanta. Today, Atlanta retains its rich Route 66 history, and the downtown area has experienced a resurgence in Route 66 enthusiasm. Among recent projects are the restoration of the Palms Grill Cafe and the relocation of the Bunyon's Statue to downtown from its original location in Cicero. There are many shopping opportunities as well in the historic downtown district. And don't miss the "Happy Face" water tower!

The Atlanta Coal Mining Company Historical Mine is located at 204 SW 1st Street in Atlanta, and is free and open to the public. Opening in the summer of 2023 is the American Giants Museum at the corner of Arch & Vine Streets.

Map showing the approximate route of U.S. Highway 66 in Illinois and the location of Atlanta
Map showing the location of Atlanta in Illinois on Historic Route 66

Atlanta, Illinois

Shops, cafes, attractions and the famous Paul Bunyon Hotdog Statue!

More information about Atlanta in Logan County, Illinois

Atlanta, Illinois ... "Midway on Illinois' Mother Road" mural
Atlanta, Illinois ... Midway on Illinois' Mother Road mural
Welcome to Atlanta, Illinois along Route 66 Downtown Atlanta, Illinois along Route 66
J.H. Judy and Sons Grocers mural in Atlanta, Illinois along Route 66
Old Route 66 alignment near Atlanta, Illinois Route 66 information kiosk: Laying the Hard Road through Atlanta, Illinois

Paul Bunyon Man

Standing 19 feet tall and clutching a giant hot dog, this Paul Bunyon statue (not “bunyan” purposely spelled with an “o”). It is one of Illinois Route 66’s famous "Muffler Man" Statues, joining others like the Gemini Giant in Wilmington and the Lauterbach Giant in Springfield.

For more than 35 years it was proudly owned by Hamlet Arthur "Art" Stephens, the proprietor of Bunyon's, a drive-in restaurant in Cicero on Route 66 just southwest of Chicago. Art left the restaurant business in 2002, and the statue ended up being moved to downtown Atlanta.

Bunyon's statue is located in Atlanta on Arch Street, across from the Palms Grill Café, which features fine fare from The Mother Road’s golden age. It is a frequent stop for Route 66 travelers, and a popular "photo op"!

Paul Bunyon muffler man statue in Atlanta, Illinois along Route 66 Paul Bunyon muffler man statue in Atlanta, Illinois along Route 66

American Giants Museum

The Atlanta Betterment Fund organization is providing a home for the American Giants Museum in the City of Atlanta, Illinois. The new, one-of-a-kind experience will be located at the corner of Arch & Vine Streets, on a 1926 alignment of Route 66 in downtown Atlanta.

The American Giants Museum tells the story of the kitschy and quirky “Muffler Man/Bunyan Giant” statues that sprang up in the 1960s as advertising gimmicks across the USA.

Shown below is an exterior view of the museum, and one of the first "giants" on display on the museum grounds in the spring of 2023. The giant is the 21-foot-tall Snerd, an Alfred E. Newman-looking figure named for Edgar Bergan's sidekick, Mortimer Snerd.

Grand opening is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend in 2024. For more information, opening dates and times, visit the website of the American Giants Museum

Route 66 Giants Move into Atlanta, Illinois
WANDtv - Decatur, IL - 06/15/2023
A capital place for giants': Museum has village of Atlanta thinking big
The State Journal-Register - 11/29/2023
Exterior view of the American Giants Museum in Atlanta, Illinois along Route 66 One of the first "giants" on display at the American Giants Museum in Atlanta, Illinois along Route 66

Read more about giant "Muffler Men", their locations, and view photos on this website

Route 66 Park and Shields

“Route 66 Reimagined” through artists’ interpretations of the famous Route 66 shield are on display on this stretch of the 1926 Route 66 alignment that runs through downtown Atlanta, Illinois.

The park in downtown Atlanta, Illinois along Route 66 "Route 66 Imagined" shields on display in downtown Atlanta, Illinois


Atlanta Museum

The Atlanta Museum tells the story of Atlanta’s growth and development since the city’s founding in 1853. Local artifacts tell the story of life in Atlanta, including businesses, schools, and social life. The museum is housed in the Downey Building, one of Atlanta’s three buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally built to house the Exchange Bank, the tin ceiling, textured glass, wood paneling, and two vaults are still intact.

The Museum is located at 114 SW Arch Street. Phone: 217.648.2112

More information about the Atlanta Museum

Atlanta Illinois Museum on Arch Street Interior exhibit area at the Atlanta Illinois Museum on Arch Street

Atlanta Public Library and Clock Tower

Located across from Route 66 Park in historic downtown, the Atlanta Public Library is a hub of community activity and an attraction for tourists who are making the Route 66 pilgrimage.

In 1907, funded by generous donations from citizens, construction on the new Library building began. Today, Route 66 travelers always enjoy a visit to Illinois’ only 8-sided public library! This beautiful limestone building was constructed in 1908 and is restored to its original condition. Outside is a Memorial to Atlanta’s veterans on the front lawn.

The Clock Tower, built to house the 1907 Seth Thomas Clock from the former Atlanta High School, is located on the library grounds. The clock is hand-wound up to three times a week by residents, known as the “Keepers of the Clock.”

The library is located at 100 SE Race Street. Phone: 217.648.2112

More information about the Library

Atlanta Illinois Public Library and Clock Tower

Carriage House and Grain Elevator Museum

The J.P. Hieronymus Carriage House is the last one still standing in Atlanta. Stop by the 1907 building and see the interior and short film on the carriage house. It is located at 204 SW 1st Street.

Also popular with visitors is the circa-1904 grain elevator in Atlanta. It is the only fully restored wooden grain elevator in Illinois, and is now the J. W. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

J.P. Hieronymus Carriage House in Atlanta, Illinois J.W. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum in Atlanta, Illinois

Interactive Map of Atlanta Illinois

More Information about Atlanta & Illinois Route 66


City of Atlanta, Illinois website

Atlanta at Destination Logan County

Atlanta at Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway

Atlanta, Illinois Weather at WeatherUnderground

Route 66 Association of Illinois


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