Nothing conjures the rebellious spirit of the American Dream like Route 66—the historic highway that cuts across the continent like an artery for those seeking opportunity, freedom and fortune on the West Coast. John Steinbeck called it “The Mother Road.” Today the route doesn’t exist as such (it’s been replaced by more modern highways), but its position in the popular consciousness thanks to the Bobby Trout classic “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” western films and travel guides still captures the American imagination.
It’s hard to imagine a more liberating excursion than renting a car, stocking your iPhone with playlists and podcasts and heading west. For East Coasters, the trip covers the United Stares as they’ve never seen it before.
Chapter One: The Fruited Plain
The rolling hills and lush greenery of Eastern Oklahoma mark a final oasis before turning your focus west toward the plains and deserts of the Southwest. The Sooner State contains more miles of Route 66 than any other state—and these Select Registry properties make dreamy overnights on the journey.
Shiloh Morning Inn: Ardmore, Oklahoma
Nestled in the rolling hills of Ardmore, OK, Shiloh Morning Inn sits 10 miles from any city center…all the better for guests seeking a tranquil, pond-side escape. The lodge is outfitted with every modern convenience to make seclusion as comfortable as possible. Enjoy nearby nature walks, catch-and-release fishing and delicious room service in perfect natural solitude.
Select Room: Of all the cottages on site, the Villa’s second-floor balcony is not to be missed. This sumptuous two-story cottage features a downstairs living room, dining area with wet bar, and an outdoor screened room with private hot tub.
Books for Reading Pondside:
- Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness. With language as colorful as a Canyonlands sunset and a perspective as pointed as a prickly pear, Cactus Ed captures the heat, mystery, and surprising bounty of desert life. Available here at Amazon.
- The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Desert, Sea, Stone, and Sky. In this invigorating mix of natural history and adventure, artist-naturalist Ellen Meloy uses turquoise—the color and the gem—to probe deeper into our profound human attachment to landscape. Available here at Amazon.
The Drive: 90 minutes. Dive into the archives of A Prairie Home Companion, a Pandora bluegrass station or some other icon of Americana to enjoy on the brief trip.
Montford Inn: Norman, Oklahoma
The owner-operators of Montford Inn are descendants of the Chickasaw Nation—in particular, Montford T. Johnson. Johnson built a ranching empire in nineteenth century Oklahoma, and his legacy lives on at the inn—and in an upcoming film. This property’s walkable location puts nearby attractions within reach in a peaceful suburban setting. Start your day with a complimentary breakfast and don’t miss the Sam Noble Museum of natural history or the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art…proud temples to the visual and ecological identity of Oklahoma.
Norman is a young and vibrant college town through-and-through, and the University is a draw for visiting luminaries from around the world.
Select Room: The Chickasaw Rancher room is one of the inn’s most requested accommodations. It’s filled with artifacts from local native American communities—it’s filled with light and doubles as a history lesson!
The Drive: 8 hours. You’ll pass through Clinton, OK, where Elvis Presley loved to stay at a Best Western Trade Winds Hotel. With all due respect to the King, we expect road trippers will find our portfolio of boutique inns a bit more agreeable.
Between Norman and Santa Fe is where the rubber meets the road. Plan a day of listening, reading and sightseeing along historic Route 66. You’ll notice the greenery of the heartland melt away into severe rock formations, canyons and deserts.
Podcasts for the road:
- S-Town, by the creators of Serial, explores the dark underbelly of a small town in the rural South. Its Southern Gothic subject matter unfold over 8 gripping hours, developing from murder mystery to treasure hunt to underdog tale. Available here on iTunes.
- You Must Remember This is Karina Longworth’s meticulously researched Classic Hollywood podcast. Seasons explore the Hollywood Blacklist (during the escalation of the Cold War), the feud between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, and many loves of Howard Hughes. Available here on iTunes.
- Invisibilia is about the invisible forces that control human behavior—ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions—and it’s one of NPR’s finest podcasts. It weaves scientific research and narrative storytelling to shed light on what makes us tick. Available here on iTunes.
Chapter Two: Santa Fe, Cultural Oasis
Four Kachinas Inn and El Farolito Bed and Breakfast Inn are sister properties in close proximity to one another, both situated in the heart of Santa Fe. Their interiors are filled with handcrafted local furniture and owners Walt and Wayne’s private art collection—which has been published in magazines. Don’t try to buy a piece off the walls…the innkeepers’ portfolio is not for sale! Staff are deeply knowledgeable about the local art scene (where paintings are regularly sold at market for seven and eight-figure sums) and often direct guests to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, LewAllen Galleries, Nedra Matteucci Galleries, and the Museum of International Folk Art.
At El Farolito Inn, each room is equipped with wood-burning fireplaces (a luxe perk in the cooler months), refrigerators and coffee makers.
Select Room: At El Farolito, Casita Garcia opens into a shady private courtyard. Whether you have a Southwestern siesta in mind or more reading to finish, the outdoor space is unbeatable. Pour yourself an afternoon cocktail and bask in the warm, dry breeze.
Select Room: Room #4 at Four Kachinas Inn is a spacious second-floor hideaway with four walls of windows and a view of the mountains.
Dining in Santa Fe:
Off the top of his head, Walt names 70 farm-to-table restaurants and 15 James Beard Award-winners with a claim to Santa Fe. Here are some highlights from the city’s robust culinary scene:
“Geronimo is top of the heap with the best elk tenderloin in town,” says Walt. You don’t want to miss the craft cocktails at the Hotel St. Francis bar—certainly not the basil-infused lemon drop. At La Boca, 9-time James Beard semifinalist James Campbell Caruso prepares show-stopping grilled artichoke. (There’s no shortage of Mediterranean and Iberian tapas in Santa Fe, as locals trace their roots all the way back to Spain.)
For more Southwestern-style fare, head to the Shed for margaritas. When foodies experience their salt foam topping, they’ll never go back to traditional salted rims.
The Drive: 6 hours. Protected lands lie on both sides of this leg: To your left, Bluewater State Park and Mt. Sedgwick. Along the way is the Petrified Forest National Park with its red-capped teepees and large deposits of petrified wood.
A Select Registry Playlist for the Road
From the rolling hills of Oklahoma to the red rocks of Sedona, let this mix of contemporary hits and throwback favorites fuel your road trip.
Chapter Three: The Tranquil Sublime of Sedona
At the end of a long journey, the natural wonders of Sedona provide something like spiritual rejuvenation. With countless ways to explore the unique, imposing landscape, travelers can choose mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding and other modes of transportation to experience it firsthand.
For Posh Adventurers: Casa Sedona Inn
Casa Sedona’s executive chef prepares a delectable breakfast each morning which draws guests from neighboring properties and locals alike—it’s open to the public. In a setting where guests are constantly on the go from geological exploration to sunset viewing, Casa Sedona’s boutique hotel amenities provide a luxurious place to hang your hat. It’s the perfect site for a romantic getaway, a solo spiritual retreat or as a final destination on your Route 66 road trip.
Select Room: Guests in the Moondance room experience panoramic red rock views and a two-person spa tub. Moonlight floods through the picture window and an observation terrace is just outside the door.
For Bon Vivants: Canyon Villa Bed and Breakfast Inn
Canyon Villa Bed and Breakfast Inn has a front-row seat to some of Sedona’s most awe-inspiring red rock formations. Its beautifully landscaped outdoor pool allows guests to bask in the Southwestern sunlight and gorgeous scenery all around. Rooms invite guests to blend indoor and outdoor living with private terraces and breathtaking views.
Select Room: Innkeepers describe The Strawberry Cactus Room as “light and pleasing as a solarium.” Guests enjoy a private outdoor patio for sipping wine with views of Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, and Lee Mountain.
Whatever path bought you here / There is a reason why you came,
Though you may not know it now. / So, please open your ears and listen.
Listen to the message that Sedona has for you.