Off The Route 66 Strip! ~ Tucumcari, New Mexico

Off The Route 66 Strip! ~ Tucumcari, New Mexico

The spring and summer seasons are when Route 66 tourism goes full swing. Route 66 has been America’s vacationland corridor since this road first broke ground and this tradition has continued into the modern age, even though longe sections of Route 66 have been bypassed by high speed interstate freeways. When on vacation, there is no strict timetable to keep and leisurely cruising the roads less traveled becomes more appealing. Interstate freeway travel offers very little in the way of enriching the vacation experience, other than getting to mainstream destinations a little bit quicker. When weighing the checks and balances, a far better experience can be found on the old two lane highways where local heritage and traditions have been preserved. This is what travelers find appealing about Route 66, which has always been a road where the word “boredom” is seldom heard!

Touring the entire length of Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica can take a week or two and not everybody has the time to devote to this trip. This is why just touring sections of Route 66 is the most popular way to experience the Mother Road. The touring section length can be a brief 20 mile sunset cruise to a malt shop or a journey on Route 66 through a few states that takes a couple days to do. Most often, a Route 66 section tour is planned while on the way to a primary vacation destination, just to break up the monotony of the high speed four lane freeway.

There are a few old historic Route 66 towns that are worth spending some extra time in and these are good choices for stopovers during a long vacation trip. Taking the time to shop for local artisan crafts and tour the local museums is a means for stretching the legs while on a long journey and touring the local heritage sites will enrich the overall experience. All it takes is getting off the Route 66 Strip in any landmark Route 66 town to find plenty of old fashioned tourist attractions and roadside oddities that are well worth checking out!

In Tucumcari, New Mexico, the Route 66 Strip is the main tourism corridor in town. Anything and everything that has to do with old historic Route 66 can be found on this short stretch of road. It is easy for a visitor to assume that the Route 66 Strip is all there is to the nostalgic past in Tucumcari, but this entire town actually used to be major vacationland hub back in the golden age of automobile touring. Tucumcari was where Southwestern cuisine was something brand new to mainstream America. This town was and still is a gateway to outdoor adventures at Ute Lake and the grasslands of the front range, so everything from boatyards to saddleries and tackle shops can be found off the strip. This town has a long old wild west history too and the old historic classic Spanish style Tucumcari Train Station still draws many folks in. Best of all, several interesting museums can be found in old Tucumcari just a few blocks off of the Route 66 Strip, which offer a chance to learn a little something while stretching the legs during a long trip.

I actually landed in Tucumcari after touring old Route 66 nonstop all the way from St Louis, which is a long section of this road to drive. All it took was one brief cruise around town and a really good Mexican food dinner to decide on spending an extra day in this town, before continuing on my way to a job in Utah. All that can be said is that the Route 66 Tucumcari experience certainly is timeless! Exploring the destinations around town that are off the Route 66 Strip is something everybody used to do back in the old days. For those who are into reliving the nostalgic past, doing a local tour off of the Tucumcari Route 66 Strip will certainly be a fulfilling good time!

Attractions off the Route 66 Strip in Tucumcari to look for include the old historic Tucumcari Railrad Museum, New Mexico Route 66 Museum, Mesalands Dinosaur Museum and the Tucumcari Historical Museum. The old main street section of town still suffers from hard economic times, but the old historic buildings still stand and this area is like a showcase of classic Spanish pueblo style architectural design. Many of the old buildings sit empty and some are dilapidated beyond repair, but this is the nature of towns that endured being bypassed by an interstate freeway. This kind of atmosphere does attract artisans, so everything from hand crafted Navajo rugs and great western landscape art pantings to locally made cheese can be found in the shops in old historic downtown Tucumcari off the Route 66 Strip!

Tucumcari definitely is the perfect choice for planning an overnighter with a tour of the town the following day, because there is so much to experience off of the Route 66 Strip! Booking a room on the Route 66 Strip is the classic way to go and doing the local heritage tour is what visitors have traditionally done for many decades. Tucumcari was where the Southwest met eastern culture long ago and it was the local Southwestern cuisine that captivated so many people back then. A word of forewarning must be mentioned for those who resist the Tucumcari overnighter notion, because the old fashioned classic Mexican food in this town is so good that your belly will not be satisfied unless you stay an extra day to get a second great meal!


Author: wildwestdestinations

I worked as a chef in remote resorts and National Parks, which provided the time to explore western travel destinations. I have a BA Degree in Culinary Management with high honors and currently I am working on a Masters Degree in Adult Education. My food and travel blog writing began as a means to generate income during college and now photo journalism has become my lifestyle.

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