As Route 66 exited Kansas, it entered Commerce, Miami, Afton and Vinita in Oklahoma. From there it passed through Chelsea, Claremore, Catoosa and into Tulsa. In general, it followed the route of present-day Interstate I-44.
Vinita is situated in northeastern Oklahoma, a region of the state known as Green Country. The city is often called the "Crossroads to Green Country". It is located on I-44 60 miles from both Tulsa and Joplin, 27 miles southeast of Miami, and 37 miles northwest of Claremore. Vinita is intersected by Highways 60 and 69, State Highway 2 and Route 66.
Established in 1871, Vinita is the second oldest town in Oklahoma, and as such, places a high priority on preserving its history and heritage. A historic downtown district showcases antique shops and specialty boutiques. It is home to more than 5,000 residents.
Cyrus Avery, known as the Father of Route 66, called Vinita home just prior to statehood. The oldest town on Oklahoma Route 66, Vinita’s stretch of the Mother Road features historic buildings with a variety of shops, antique stores, cafés, and more. A celebration is held each June to honor the city's place on the famed highway.
As the seat of Craig County, Vinita hosts a wide variety of events every year, from free fairs and car shows to renaissance festivals and more. The annual Oktoberfest celebrates fall with beer, polka dancing and all kinds of festivities with their roots in German culture. The Route 66 Festival celebrates the Mother Road and all the nostalgia that comes with it. And the famous Vinita Calf Fry Festival pays homage to a tasty treat that you might be surprised to find you love!
It was announced in July of 2023 that the American Heartland Theme Park will be built just east of Vinita. Read more at American Heartland Theme Park, Resort coming to Route 66
|Map of Historic Route 66 showing the location of Vinita, Oklahoma
Mural in Vinita
The Eastern Trails Museum
The museum is located at 215 West Illilnois Avenue in Vinita, one block off Route 66. This one-of-a-kind museum is dedicated to the more than 150-year history of this long-lived Green Country city, featuring exhibits on Civil War battles, Native American history, ranching relics, military items, railroad materials, and Route 66 memorabilia.
"Big Bill" and the Hi-Way Cafe in Vinita
The newest "Muffler Man" on Route 66 was installed at the family-owned Hi-Way Cafe in Vinita, Oklahoma, in June of 2023. He towers about 24 feet in height; at his feet is a large suitcase.
Alan and Beth Hilburn own and operate the cafe. "Big Bill" is named after the late Bill Wood, Beth's father.
In November of 2022, in coordination with Mobil1, the Hi-Way Cafe set a Guinness World Record for the “Most Stickers on a Car”. Using a 1963 American Rambler and over 100 volunteers the cafe placed 60,066 half inch stickers over the body of the car and was declared a Guinness World Record Holder. This car is currently housed inside the cafe in the “garage” where customers can dine around the car. The Hi-Way Cafe is also home to a “Giving Wall”. This is a program where people can donate prepaid meals for customers that cannot afford a meal.
In March of 2023, thanks in part to grants from the National Park Service's Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Backing Historic Small Restaurants Grant Program, the Hi-Way Cafe was able to relight its restored iconic neon sign.
Clanton’s has been a family tradition in Vinita since 1927. Generations of Clantons have prepared meals for their neighbors and Route 66 travelers. It is the oldest continually owned family restaurant on Route 66 in the state of Oklahoma. The cafe is located at 319 East Illinois Avenue. For more information, visit ...
Vinita Route 66 Festival
The annual Vinita Route 66 Festival is held in mid-June each year. This popular event features live music, food trucks and a Kids Zone Inflatable Park. Also included is a car show, local vendors and much more! For more information, visit ...
Cherokee Nation Welcome Center
The Cherokee Nation Anna Mitchell Cultural & Welcome Center is located near Vinita. VIsitors traveling down Historic Route 66 are able to visit this new attraction to learn about the Cherokee history of Vinita and the enduring legacy of Cherokee National Treasure Anna Mitchell - known for her revitalization of the art of Cherokee pottery.
Built in what used to be the Vinita Country Club, the Center has numerous exhibits about Cherokee art, culture and history. It also features a large gift shop and a cafe with Native-inspired cuisine.
It also serves as a Cherokee community space for meetings, events and classes. The 9,400-square-foot, two-story stone building is situated on 8 acres overlooking Historic Route 66.
The address is 953 East Illinois Avenue. For more information, visit the Cherokee Nation Welcome Center website
Grand Lake o' the Cherokees
Just 20 minutes from Vinita, Grand Lake O' the Cherokees offers 46,500 surface acres of water sports fun. Located on the Grand (Neosho) River in northeastern Oklahoma, guests can devote a whole weekend to lake explorations or stick to its 1,300 miles of shoreline.
Grand Lake O' the Cherokees' features exceptional recreational facilities at five nearby state parks and more than a dozen other privately operated facilities. Grand Lake is perfect for parasailing and wakeboarding adventures. Off the lake, Grand Lake O' The Cherokees offers plenty of relaxing resorts and lakeside marina restaurants for shoreside entertainment.
Will Rogers Archway
Any visitors to Vinita on I-44 are sure to spot the incredible Will Rogers Archway, aka the Glass House. This magnificent piece of architecture spans the entire turnpike and opened to the public in 1958 as the first over-the-road service plaza.
For a time, it was also home to the world's largest McDonald’s. While that title has since been usurped, this unique roadside structure still houses a McDonald’s, as well as a Subway and a convenience store. Stop by to stretch your legs and watch the cars whiz by right beneath your feet.
What was Route 66 in Vinita like in its earlier years? What did all the service stations, motels and diners look like when they were new? What did the traveling public experience on the Mother Road? We wonder such things when we travel Route 66 today across Oklahoma.
Those earlier times in the 1930s, 40s and 50s were not always captured on film. But the use of colorful postcards was common in those decades. We have included below a sampling of our collection of vintage travel postcards showing scenes on Route 66 around Vinita. These portray the historic road in its prime and help us to visualize "yesterday" as we drive Route 66 today.
|Meeks Court - Vinita
|Quarter Horse Motel - Vinita
|Wright's Cafeteria - Vinita
|Courthouse - Vinita
MORE OKLAHOMA ROUTE 66
Oklahoma Route 66 Passport
The Oklahoma Route 66 Passport from the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department helps Route 66 travelers find new destinations to explore and document their progress along the way. A new updated passport (yellow) is being offered beginning in 2023.
The Route 66 Passport, which is available free at TravelOK.com, features 66 of the state’s memorable Mother Road attractions. It includes iconic stops like Catoosa’s Blue Whale, Stroud’s Rock Cafe and Clinton’s Oklahoma Route 66 Museum along with many newer favorites.
Get your passport stamped at each stop, then take it to a Tourism Information Center to be verified and earn an exclusive Route 66 coin.
Both the new yellow and previous red Route 66 Passports are now available in a digital format. Download the official TravelOK Trip Planner app on the Apple App Store or Google Play to get started. When you get to each stop, you'll find a code displayed that you can enter to digitally check in.