Discover Oklahoma: Get your kicks on Route 66, and fill your passport along the way
Route 66 has always had a charm, some might even say a mystique, surrounding it.
I remember reading once that by the time it opened in 1926, it already was considered somewhat of a celebrity. So, it is that history I also find so fascinating. One can walk through the some of the Route 66 museums in the state — the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City and the Route 66 Interpretive Center in Chandler — and I enjoy the fact you are walking through history. And Route 66 is the centerpiece, the main artery through which that history can come alive.
Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell has said the revitalization of Route 66 in Oklahoma is one of the state’s greatest strengths as a state from a tourism perspective. Most people know Oklahoma has more driveable miles of the Mother Road than any other state.
A few years back, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Wallace, the famed author of so many books on Route 66, and he said something that has stuck with me. “Route 66 is endless. It’s timeless. It’s a work in progress. It is unfinished,” Wallace said. “So, that means, there are manmade and natural sites on the road that have been there for many, many years. But, there is always something new.”
So, for your next trip along the Mother Road, how about completing an Official Oklahoma Route 66 Passport? It is free and can be ordered by going to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation website, TravelOK.com.
The passport highlights 66 destinations along the Mother Road in our state. As you travel, just bring your passport to each of the book’s 66 stops, and the people there will stamp the appropriate page for you.
To make things easier, the book is divided into three sections, Eastern, Central and Western. When you complete a section, then just take the passport into one of the five Oklahoma Tourism Information Centers, managed by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. A staff member will sign the completed page for that region, and after that, you will get a prize — a portion of a fun Route 66 magnet. The next phase would be to return once each section is finished to get the other magnet pieces.
Completing all three sections, you would then bring your passport back to a Tourism Information Center. A staff member will authenticate or check to make sure it’s been properly completed, stamp your book and then hand over to you a free collectible Route 66 coin. And I don’t know about you, but I love collecting items such as that!
Now, some of the 66 stops are offering special deals to folks who come in with their passports to be stamped. Those specific destinations and stops also can be found on TravelOK.com. Remember, some of the stops may be closed temporarily or their hours may have changed because of COVID-19 pandemic. Go to TravelOK.com for a list of those closings and location changes.
You are strongly encouraged to call ahead. And finally, a list of where you can get your passport verified is on TravelOK.com, too.
Dino Lalli is the producer, co-host and one of the reporters for the weekly television travel show "Discover Oklahoma."