Pontiac Illinois Livingston County Court House

Pontiac, Illinois: Tip on Route 66

Aktualisiert am: 25/03/2024

Pontiac was another stop on our road trip along the legendary Route 66 through Illinois. At first glance a quiet American small town, you can get the full Route 66 atmosphere in Pontiac. The local Route 66 Museum tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the famous road.

But even better are the conversations with the local people: everyone has their own personal Route 66 story and tells it with pride. And this despite the fact that Route 66 has long since been replaced as an official highway by modern interstate highways. Find out what you can experience in the small town of Pontiac in Illinois here!

Pontiac: Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum

The Route 66 Museum is the must-see attraction in Pontiac on a Route 66 road trip in Illinois. So many memorabilia, photos and exhibits about life on Route 66 have been collected here that you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a time machine. I could have browsed here for hours!

Welcome to my travel blog!

Hey, I’m Tatiana, a German-Brazilian living in Berlin & the author behind The Happy Jetlagger. I’ve been writing about my travels since 2014. In addition to my job as a flight attendant, this blog is my passion project!

fridge route

Walldogs: Street art artists from the very beginning

Special highlight: The inner courtyard of the Route 66 Museum is home to impressive murals! These are reminiscent of the Walldogs, the artists who creatively painted stores, billboards and walls with advertising messages before the advent of mass media. Today, Pontiac is trying to revive this tradition, and the most beautiful Route 66 murals can be found all over the city.

pontiac illinois walldog mural

Looking for more inspiration? You can find even more travel reports from the land of opportunity on my USA blog.

The most beautiful (and absolutely instagrammable) mural is at the back of the Route 66 Museum! The ornate Route 66 emblem is legendary!

➜ C omplete route for a Route 66 road trip through Illinois

pontiac illinois route mural walldog

Bob Waldmire: My hero of Route 66

Even before digital nomads and vanlife existed, Bob Waldmire (1945-2009) was drawn to faraway places: he spent half his life driving up and down Route 66 in his converted van, writing stories, drawing and illustrating. His yellow VW van, which now stands in the middle of the museum, was even the inspiration for Fillmore in the Pixar film “Cars”! Bob Waldmire drove through the USA in this van, always along Route 66. His artistic Route 66 maps are still relevant today and are definitely a great souvenir to buy in the museum store.

pontiac illinois bob waldmire maps
pontiac illinois bob waldmire postcards

An even greater souvenir, however, is the attitude to life that makes Bob Waldmire so fascinating: the passion for a life according to his own ideas, away from the mainstream, in complete freedom, really impressed me.

bob waldmire route

When he wasn’t traveling, he lived in a converted school bus that was usually parked somewhere in his hometown of Springfield. The school bus stands in the courtyard of the Route 66 Museum, fully furnished just as Bob Waldmire lived in it: A cozy smorgasbord of mementos and souvenirs from several decades on Route 66.

school bus bob waldmire
bob waldmire van pontiac illinois route

Fun Fact: Bob Waldmire was the son of Ed Waldmire Jr., founder of the legendary Cozy Dog Drive-In in Springfield, Illinois! In addition to the famous Cozy Dogs, Bob Waldmire’s works can also be purchased here.

Advertising / *affiliate links

Museum of the Gilding Arts & Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum

Although Pontiac is named after a Native American chief and not the famous US car brand, there are still plenty of Pontiac classic cars to see in the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum next door.

Not far away is the Museum of the Gilding Arts – at the end of the 19th century the production and finishing of gold leaf was very popular, here in the museum you can learn more about this technique. Neither museum is an absolute must – but if you’re ever in Pontiac, you can take a look inside.

Pontiac Illinois Museum of the Gilding Arts
Pontiac Illinois Museum of the Gilding Arts

Admission to all three museums (Route 66, Gilding Arts and Automobile Museum) is free, but donations are welcome.

Food & Drink in Pontiac

Italian cuisine in huge portions is served at Bernardi’s, probably the best Italian restaurant in the city. The dishes were okay, but the ambience was much more interesting.

Coffee shop, which is also a meeting place in the town: At The Cup and The Scone, you can make friends right away.

All locations are within walking distance in the small Pontiac, so simply park your rental car and explore the city on foot!


Travel hacks

Pontiac website

Bob Waldmire Shop


All articles about Route 66 in Illinois

Disclosure: Enjoy Illinois invited me on this research trip.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *