Route 66 news: 2016 Illinois events calendar and trip advice


Hello again, fellow roadies!  Most of you think the ‘official’ Route 66 related events begin every year in May.  Those of you who are hipper than that already started looking for things to do/see along the route in April.  Good for you!  But the truth is, you can travel this iconic American road trip at any time, during any season, and find things and people to see, places to visit, and yes, great things to eat (!) along the route all year long – even in Chicago in winter.  You might not be able to leave the top down on the convertible during the winter, but honestly:  how many of us these days travel the entire route in a classic ragtop, let alone without sunscreen?  Right:  most of us just see it and travel it however we can, even if that means taking a tour bus.

It isn’t the vehicles we use on historic Route 66 that matter; that’s the frosting.  It’s the road trip itself, what we experience, and whom we meet along the way – that’s the cake.  Our job here on the CuriousTraveler66 blog is to give you ideas and keep you informed of what’s along the way between the eastern terminus in downtown Chicago and the south end of Joliet (before you hit the sticks), sometimes even downstate, and what may have changed recently.  Therefore, the full 2016 events calendar (well, as complete as we can make it at this point in the year) is at the end of this post.  Bookmark this page for further reference, but know that we’ll be updating the calendar later on as we get additions, deletions and corrections.  Of course, all information is subject to change, so stay tuned right here in case something does change.

picnic 1 - classic Rt.66 rides - a bike, a 'Vette & a ragtop Mustang - blog (MRTraska) Continue reading

Route 66 this weekend:  Berwyn Car Show and CineFest


Hello again, fellow roadies!  This weekend, route roadies in Chicago are blessed with a full two days’ worth of worthy events (that’s in addition to everything else going on in the immediate area, like the special exhibits at the Art Institute and the usual tours at the top of the Sears Tower, etc.).  First up today is the annual Berwyn Route 66 Car Show, a don’t-miss, no-admission event in Illinois as it is second in size only to the Mother Road Festival in downstate Springfield.  Flashy vehicles, food and fun, and did we mention it’s FREE?  Yessir!  Be there, or be square.  Berwyn is the second suburb you encounter outside Chicago when traveling Route 66, one whose civic leaders very consciously promote Route 66 – and Berwyn’s history on the route – all year long.  It’s also home to the Berwyn Route 66 Museum, which is one of the co-sponsors of the car show.

Then there’s the first annual CineFest in the Douglas Park area of Chicago, a weekend-long celebration of feature-length movies and TV series filmed in Chicago (many of which have been at least partially produced at fest sponsor Cinestage Chicago).  And perhaps the best part of that festival is that the beverages of choice will be brewskis supplied by next-door neighbor Lagunitas-Chicago brewery, Chicago’s largest craft beer producer.  Cinestage Chicago occupies the historic former Ryerson Steel campus, which is located between Western Avenue on the easternmost end and Washtenaw Avenue on the west, Route 66/Ogden Avenue on the north and the railroad viaduct that runs on an angle roughly between 17th to 18th Streets and parallel to Ogden.  In fact, Lagunitas itself is in a former Ryerson warehouse that the brewery rents from Cinestage under a 99-year lease.  So you have history all around you at both of these events this weekend.

In fact, our suggestion is that you attend the car show today and CineFest tomorrow – work them both in, if you can, then dine somewhere on the route afterwards.

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Route 66 weekend events, June 5-7:  car & bike show, cruise-in, more


Happy weekend, fellow roadies!  Summer’s here, and it’s time for car shows and cruisin’ down our favorite iconic American highway.  Wow, it feels good to be shaking the dust of winter off your wheels, doesn’t it?  Tear down that ragtop, tune up the vehicle, turn up the road music (we like classic Beach Boys, Springsteen, ZZ Top and Pat Metheny, but you may differ), and let’s take off!  Rain or shine, you’ll be doing fine at these events in the [extended] metro area:

McLean County Historical Museum, Bloomington, IL (photo courtesy of Google street view)

McLean County Historical Museum, Bloomington, IL  (photo courtesy of Google street view)


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Route 66 news: new events calendar update, and photos!


Hello again, fellow roadies!  Have you shaken off the dust of winter yet?  It’s Memorial Day weekend, when the Route 66 cruising season here in Illinois begins in earnest, and we have an updated events calendar for you below.  Bring out those convertibles and dust off those bikes, because it’s time to hit the road! Even if you only warm up locally to start.  Which can be fun.  Just remember to buckle up wherever you go, because the Smokies will be out in force this weekend on all the major highways across the nation, making sure you use your seat belts and handing out stiff fines if you don’t.  Better safe than sorry, right?   Right.

picnic 1 - classic Rt.66 rides - a bike, a 'Vette & a ragtop Mustang - blog (MRTraska)

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Route 66 news update:  Car show and event dates for spring and summer 2015


Hello again, fellow roadies!  Spring is finally here in Chicago, albeit grudgingly, which means a roadie’s attention turns to thoughts of road trips.  We have a partial list here for you of Route 66 events in Illinois (no, we didn’t just stick to our own neck of the woods in the NE corner of the state; we’re more broadminded than that.  Besides, a road trip requires putting on some mileage, right?).

We’ll have more details on these events and shows as we come nearer to their individual dates.  Please note:  the annual Berwyn Route 66 Car Show, which usually occurs on the first Saturday after Labor Day in September, will instead be happening two weeks early in late August.  We don’t know the reason for the change in date, but we imagine there was some kind of conflict with something else.  It can’t be because of the weather:  August is usually way too hot up here, whereas September has typically been just about perfect.  Oh, well …

Anyway, with the road shot below from our Funks Grove trip last summer on the day of the Route 66 Association of Illinois annual picnic at the Sugar Grove Nature Center to inspire you, please mark the following events on your Route 66 calendars; you won’t be sorry!

Route 66 southbound in Funks Grove  (photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

Route 66 southbound in Funks Grove (photo copyright 2014 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

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Route 66 events (brrrr!):  Warm thoughts of the 2014 Berwyn Route 66 Car Show


Hi there, fellow roadies!  How ya doin’ with that polar vortex??  Have you been buried under layers of silk, wool and down this month?  Wearing two pairs of gloves and three pairs of socks, indoors?  Drinking hot cocoa and trying to think warmer thoughts??  Well, we can’t warm you up as fast as an XXX-rated movie might, but we can certainly turn your attention away from the freezer outside to things that should bring a smile.  With the annual Chicago Auto Show ongoing at McCormick Place through Feb. 22, it’s an opportune time to look back at last autumn’s annual Berwyn (IL) Route 66 Car Show … and dream.

Suddenly those cars with the flame-throwing exhaust systems actually look appealing, eh?  Yeah, we thought they might.  But hang on to your mittens anyway (they actually work better for keeping your hands warm).

2014 Berwyn Car Show 3 - nitro fuel demo - blog (MRTraska) Continue reading

Route 66 weekend wrap-up: Chicago Auto Show coming soon & more


Greetings, fellow roadies!  Have you got Seasonal Affective Disorder or cabin fever yet?  Mother Nature has been jerking us around this winter, at least in Chicagoland – teasing us with unseasonal above-freezing days that melt what little snow we’ve had so far (not enough long-lasting snow cover:  very bad for farmers and for your precious perennials), then slapping us upside our parkas with single-digit temps and subzero wind chills and giving us an intermittent reality check (yeah, the super-cold is the way real winter used to be up here; y’all are spoiled these days).  Makes you want distraction, preferably with something warm … or at least something that reminds you of warmth.  Well, thank heavens Mardi Gras season officially began back on January 7 and Chinese New Year is just around the corner; I don’t know about you, but thinking about great food always makes me feel warmer.

Oh, but there’s an excellent distraction coming up soon, especially for those of you who are automotively minded:  the annual Chicago Auto Show is coming back to McCormick Place!  And it’s warm and sexy inside!!  Now some of you may be asking yourselves:  Hey, wait – what does McCormick Place have to do with Route 66?  Fret not, there is a legitimate connection:  the massive convention center is located at the eastern end of Cermak Road/22nd Street, right where Lake Shore Drive meets the start of Interstate 55.  The final alignment of U.S. Route 66 in Illinois during the early 1970s had the eastern terminus set back to Jackson Boulevard and Lake Shore Drive, then the route went south to I-55 where the interstate and Route 66 mostly ran together on the same superhighway between Chicago and Joliet for a few years, before Route 66 was finally decommissioned in Illinois during the 1970s.  This last iteration of the route took it right past McCormick Place.

So: do we really need more reason than that to come stare at muscle cars, sports cars and high-tech prototypes?  Naaaah – like you should even ask.

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