Get Your Kicks: Oak Park Area's Route 66 Legacy & Roadside Attractions

From the days of AM radio and bench seats in cars, Route 66 from Chicago to California is an icon of American culture.  Established before the current interstate system, it was the king for cross country travel and Berwyn, like most towns along its route, had its own sights to see for anybody who might pass through.  The oldest original site of the White Castle chain, Berwyn’s Toys and Trains, and Top and Trim auto repair are all along the route.  

Visiting here today still offers that feeling of mid-century Americana.  The old Route 66 area also includes The World’s Largest Laundromat, the Swan Service Station, the former Philips Gas Station, the old “Spindle Site”, and Richard’s Restaurant and Lounge.  There are also four Historic Route 66 Scenic Byway Wayside Exhibits which establish Berwyn as one of the first eastern suburban communities along Route 66.  

Route 66 was officially decommissioned by the federal government in 1985, but Berwyn has kept the idea alive by adding modern offerings to the legacy.  Many new restaurants like Paizan’s Pizzeria and Bar, Cigar’s and Stripes BBQ Lounge, Michael Anthony’s Pizzeria and Bar, and Novi’s Beef are great places to go if you want that local flair.  And the annual Berwyn Route 66 Car show also takes place along the strip and has grown into one of  Chicago Magazine’s “5 Best Things To Do”.

OLDEST WHITE CASTLE ON ROUTE 66

Opened on January 14, 1939, Berwyn is home to the oldest White Castle still operating on Historic Route 66. Here you could get a 5 cent slider to eat at the counter or take some along on the open highway. White Castle was the first food chain in the nation to standardize buns, burgers, and buildings. Spotless buildings, interiors, and uniforms reassured customers that the food was clean and pure in an era when people feared poor meat packing sanitation.

BERWYN’S TOYS & TRAINS

Berwyn’s Toys & Trains, a family-owned, toy and model train store, has been one of Berwyn’s treasured assets for over twenty years. The business stocks over 20,000 toy brands, including vintage toys, as well as an amazing selection of model trains. The store features a toy train landscape with interactive buttons that can be enjoyed by children and adults. From the street, the building’s classic aluminum storefront has helped support Route 66’s architectural heritage.

OGDEN TOP & TRIM

Ogden Top & Trim is a third generation business founded by Frank Nesladek in 1919. It has continued to serve the automotive and marine enthusiast for nearly a century. The range of cars that have won major awards with their interiors has shown them to be one of the winningest and diversely capable upholstery shops in the nation.

THE WORLD'S LARGEST LAUNDROMAT 
6246 Cermak Rd. Berwyn

Covers 13,500 sq. ft. (1.254 m2). It has 301 machines it was pronounced the The World’s Largest Laundromat by the Coin Laundry Association in 1983.

FORMER PHILLIPS GAS STATION 
6801 16th St, Berwyn

This old Phillips 66 station is now the J & S Foreign Car, Inc. - Bosch Car Service. The building with its steep gabled roofs has the "cottage style" favored in the 1930s to blend gas stations into their urban surroundings.

PAISANS PIZZERIA & BAR

Delight your tastebuds at Paisans Pizzeria & Bar, winner of Berwyn’s Best Pizza & Chicago’s Best Crazy Creative Burger. Their menu features a variety of eats from pizza to burgers to salads and more. If locale and food offerings aren’t enough, come out for the amazing decor. Owner Pete Fejzuloski has created a kitschy, Route 66 feel, complete with custom motorcycles and a dragster on display!

CIGARS & STRIPES BBQ LOUNGE

A Route 66-themed mural is painted on the west side of the Cigars & Stripes building. Owner Ronnie Lottz is an artist and created the mural. Stop into his place and partake in the space’s Rt 66 kitsch, craft brews, excellent BBQ and selection of cigars. As a neighborhood staple for nearly 20 years, they provide more than just another tavern experience. They enthusiastically share their passion for art, quality entertainment, delicious bbq and great beer—they are also the winner of Berwyn’s Best Burger & Chicago’s Best on Ogden Ave.

MICHAEL ANTHONY’S PIZZERIA & BAR

For nearly 30 years, Michael Anthony’s Pizzeria & Bar, located on historic Route 66, has provided an inviting atmosphere, filled with good food and good friends. Whether you stop in for dinner or just a couple of drinks while you watch the game, Michael Anthony’s is always serving up excellent service and outstanding experiences. Michael Anthony’s pizza is still made from the family recipes, but they are always finding ways to keep their entire menu fresh!

BERWYN ROUTE 66 CAR SHOW 

Held annually on the last Saturday of August, visitors can soak up the classic car culture of Historic Route 66 with a stroll through over 500+ vintage and custom cars, trucks and motorcycles. Live music, fantastic hometown eats, automobile flamethrowing and a cacklefest of dragsters will thrill spectators!

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