Get Your Kicks in Pontiac
If the nostalgia of historic Route 66 calls your name, plan your next weekend getaway in Pontiac. The town of just under 12,000 sits about 100 miles south of Chicago off Interstate 55. Feeling adventurous? Skip the interstate, and travel to Pontiac along old Route 66 – the Mother Road.
Pontiac’s Free Museums
Make the Pontiac Visitors Bureau your first stop. You can pick up maps, brochures and a VIP button to receive discounts from local shops. Then explore Pontiac’s four fabulous museums, all of which have free admission.
[infobox alignment=”right” title=”Places to Eat”]Appletree Cafe
Chillin’ & Grillin’
Elliot’s Corner Junction
Joe’s StationHouse Pizzeria
Old Log Cabin Restaurant
Pontiac Family Kitchen[/infobox]
The name of both the town and the automobile brand pay homage to a great Native American chief named Pontiac. In 2011, a car collector from Oklahoma decided the town served as the perfect place to open an auto museum dedicated to the history of Pontiac and Oakland, another defunct General Motors brand. Antique and classic cars, dealer signs, more than 2,000 oil cans, original design drawings and thousands of dealer artifacts fill the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum.
Browse thousands of pieces of memorabilia from the glory days of the Mother Road at the Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum, and hear stories about life in America from the days when it served as the nation’s most important highway.
At the Livingston County War Museum, you’ll find uniforms, weapons, films and artifacts about several wars, including Iraq and Afghanistan, Operation Desert Storm, the Korean War, Vietnam War and both World Wars. Take time to chat with the museum’s staff, made up of military veterans who share their firsthand experiences and answer questions.
Pontiac’s International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museum opened in 2010, paying tribute to “walldogs,” artists who painted signs before electronic mass media.
Look for Lincoln Here, Too
[infobox alignment=”right” title=”Must Sees”]Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum
Humiston Woods Nature Center
Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum
Livingston County War Museum
International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museum
Historic Downtown Pontiac
Livingston County Courthouse
Three Swinging Pedestrian Bridges
Abraham Lincoln Statue
Murals on Main Street[/infobox]
In its early days, Pontiac’s Carpenter Gothic-style Strevell House hosted Abraham Lincoln when he worked as a lawyer traveling the judicial circuit. Today, nine historic markers around Pontiac explain Lincoln’s various connections to the city through Looking for Lincoln Story Trail Exhibits.
Be sure to check out the cool architecture of the 1875 Livingston County Courthouse and the downtown shopping district, as well as the Murals on Main Street. Learn about Pontiac’s colorful past by taking a walking tour of the town’s 24 outdoor murals.
While in Pontiac, park the car and walk over three swinging pedestrian bridges crossing the Vermilion River. Constructed in 1898, 1926 and 1978, the three suspension bridges are among the many things you can only see in Pontiac.
Take the Scenic Route
You’ve never seen a red carpet quite like this. Each May, 13 towns along Route 66 roll out the proverbial red carpet to welcome thousands of visitors for 90 miles of fun. Slated for May 3-4, 2014, the annual Illinois Route 66 Red Carpet Corridor Festival encourages families to savor life in the slow lane. Each town sponsors events over the two days, including festivals, antique and craft sales, car shows, live entertainment, historic sites, mom-and-pop shops, and tons of food. Participating communities include Joliet, Elwood, Wilmington, Braidwood, Godley, Braceville, Gardner, Dwight, Odell, Pontiac, Chenoa, Lexington and Towanda.