Thursday, 3 August 2006 12:00 AM
The most famous highway in the world, Route 66, has become known to a whole new generation thanks to its role as the backdrop to Disney's animated adventure Cars.
The animated film follows a rookie racecar's journey of discovery in the make believe town of Radiator Springs on Route 66. But whilst the town is made up, the road is real, and the longest remaining continuous stretch of the original Route 66 can be found in Arizona.
Whether you are looking for quirky places to explore, interesting characters, or just a nice long drive in the open air of the old west, a visit to the Grand Canyon State is the place to go for the ultimate road trip holiday.
There are 200 miles of the original Route 66 remaining in Arizona today, and holidaymakers can still follow the road's old route from Lupton in the east to Topock in the West, taking in lots of the scenery and visitor attractions on the way.
One of the first stops you can make if you are starting from the east is Holbrook, which is typical of the authentic and quirky Route 66 experience. The unusual Wigwam motel has cosy tepees for rooms, and makes an ideal place to spend the first night.
Travelling on from Holbrook, past Winslow, is one of the best preserved meteor impact sites on earth. Nearly a mile across, 570 feet deep and more than three miles in circumference, this giant crater was made 49,000 years ago by a nickel-iron meteor denser than any other material to be found on earth.
Continuing west, road trippers will reach Flagstaff, which has an authentic log cabin called the Museum Club. Built in 1931 to house Native American artefacts and a collection of genetically unique animals preserved through taxidermy, it later became a nightclub where musicians travelling Route 66 stopped to perform.
West of Flagstaff is Angel Delgadillo's barber shop. Known as the guardian angel of Route 66, Angel Delgadillo has operated a barber shop in the town of Seligman for nearly 50 years, but his most notable accomplishment was forming the Route 66 Association, which preserved the old route in western Arizona and prevented Seligman from falling off the map.
Visitors can still chat with Delgadillo at his barber shop and see the gift shop and museum. Hungry travellers can then grab bite to eat at the quirky Snowcap Drive-in, the perfect stop-off for nostalgia lovers with oddities such as doors with two door knobs, and a sign that reads, "sorry, we're open".
Passing through Peach Springs and Grand Canyon Caverns - limestone caverns deep below the earth's surface - the roadtrip holiday reaches Kingman, where the Route 66 Museum is based.
Housed inside what was originally an electric generating plant when it opened its doors in 1907, the Route 66 museum depicts the historical evolution of travel along the 35th parallel that became Route 66. Its brilliant murals, photos and life-size dioramas capture the spirit of each of the groups that have travelled the route.
Dinner at Mr.D'z in Kingman offers a traditional Route 66 experience to top off the road trip. They serve hamburgers, shakes and their own homemade root beer in a 1950s style diner with black and white checkerboard floors and a jukebox.
US specialist Bon Voyage offer a seven night Arizona 'Route 66' fly-drive package, including return flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Phoenix and all-inclusive two-door compact car hire. Other cars available include a Cadillac, Hummer or Jaguar (supplements apply).
Prices start from £685 per person, based on two sharing and travelling in September 2006. For more information please see www.bon-voyage.co.uk
For further information on the Arizona you can visit www.arizonaguide.com">