Currently set to Index
Currently set to Follow

Seligman: The Historic Town on Route 66 that Inspired Disney-Pixar’s Cars

April 26, 2021 /
seligman ariziona route 66

Warning: Due to COVID 19 some information in this article (e.g. operating hours) may not be up-to-date.

Anyone who wants to have an unforgettable experience as they travel on Route 66 knows that the trip is anything but a cakewalk if you consider the length of the journey from Chicago to Santa Monica, the difficulty in following the historic route of the road that has been replaced by highways, the large number of attractions that are virtually unknown or forgotten by everyone… it’s not easy at all! For this reason, even the most avid road trip enthusiasts, knowing that it is impossible to travel on the entire Mother Road, often decide to travel only part of it during a classic tour of the West Coast, especially if it’s their first road trip. Usually, people drive on the section of Route 66 in Arizona!

In the rugged and inhospitable desert of the Grand Canyon State, some popular tourist towns fully devoted to the legend of Route 66 are still surprisingly “oases of the 1950s”. In addition to Winslow, Holbrook, Flagstaff, Williams, Kingman and Oatman, the tiny Seligman is also worth mentioning. This town is not only interesting for those who are fascinated by the history of Mother Road (we’ll see how important this town was), but also for fans of the Disney-Pixar movie Cars (my son is the biggest fan of Cars!).

Where is Seligman?

where is seligman

As you may have guessed by now, Seligman is located on the historic Route 66, an old road that is still active and was renamed Arizona State Highway 66 not so long ago. This road runs parallel to the “new” I-40, which connects Flagstaff and Kingman more quickly. Here are the directions to Seligman:

From the east (Williams)

From Williams, drive 40 miles on I-40 and take Exit 123 for Seligman – Peach Springs. Seligman is on Route 66 just a couple of miles after the exit. The directions given here are also recommended for anyone coming from the Grand Canyon (north), Flagstaff (east), or Phoenix/Sedona (south).

From the west (Kingman)

If you come from Kingman you have two options:

  • Drive along the entire Arizona State Highway 66 (87 miles). This is recommended for anyone who wants to spend as much time as possible on Route 66, including visiting the Hackberry General Store, Headicus Giganticus and Peach Springs (among other things).
  • Take the I-40 E and take Exit 121. In this case, you will have to drive 73 miles on Route 66 to reach Seligman.

These directions are also recommended for those coming from Las Vegas (north), Lake Havasu City (south) or Needles in California (west).

Seligman, the Cars Town in Arizona

seligman cars town

Although I’m a great fan of Toy Story and other Disney-Pixar movies, before my son became obsessed with Lightning McQueen, Cruz Ramirez & co., I had never been into the animated film Cars. So once, when my son asked me to (re)watch the movie, I started watching it with him and since then, I was hooked!

Looking beyond the pleasant story, I found out that Radiator Springs – the setting where most of the film takes place – is right on Route 66, as you can tell from many clues that Mother Road fans will not have missed (buildings, billboards, signs, landscapes, even if not all of them are in Arizona).

As we’ll see shortly, some parts of the Cars story are connected to this tiny town, but those who thought Seligman was Radiator Springs seem to be off by a few miles. In fact, the most careful observers have identified Peach Springs (37 miles west of Seligman) as the model of the town where Cars takes place.

Things to Do in Seligman


All the tourist attractions can be found in the Seligman Commercial Historic District. You won’t have a hard time finding them, because they are all located along a 1-mile stretch of Main Street, right on Route 66. Here’s where I suggest you stop, going from east to west:

Symbol of Route 66

shield route 66 seligman

Just before entering Seligman, precisely at this point, you will find one of the many Route 66 shields printed on the asphalt. As you can see from the map in the link, the symbol is located on Route 66 parallel to I-40, a few yards before the point where the two roads meet and enter Seligman. If you’re coming from the east, you will be on the interstate instead of Route 66. To reach the symbol and take a picture, just pull over on the side of the road and walk towards the symbol.

Delgadillo Snow Cap

seligman arizona things to do

In order not to miss anything, I suggest that you walk slowly along the road that cuts through Seligman and make your first stop when you see the big ice cream sign of the Delgadillo Snow Cap (301 AZ-66), a colorful and rundown drive-in, where – the sign “Sorry we are open” – is evidence of the strange irony that characterizes this place.

Built in 1953 by the late entrepreneur Juan Delgadillo with leftover material from the train station, the Delgadillo Snow Cap proudly displays a 1936 Chevrolet with eyes, like the characters of Cars, and clumsily adorned with patriotic and Christmas decorations. If you go to the back of the place, you’ll find a courtyard full of vintage cars with eyes, as well as many other funny historical artifacts, including a phone booth with a toilet attached to it.

seligman attractions

On the other side of the road is the Aztec Motel. In and of itself it is not of interest, but the facade of the historic building bears the inscription “Mother Road 66” and is embellished with garden decorations that are not exactly typical of the desert. Since it is an elegant feature not typically found on Route 66, I’d say it deserves a photo!

Angel Delgadillo’s Barber Shop

delgadillo seligman

A few yards past the drive-in, you will find Angel Delgadillo’s Barber Shop (22265 W, Rte 66). This is a temple of Route 66, and if you don’t believe me, then I have to tell you a story.

Juan’s brother, Angel Delgadillo (born in 1927), is not just a barber but a real pillar for Seligman and Route 66 in general. In 1987, this tireless Mother Road enthusiast (nicknamed not by chance “Guardian Angel”) founded the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. Seligman was the first town to be identified as part of “Historic Route 66”. The following year this designation was extended to the whole of Route 66, which makes us understand the importance of the work of Angel Delgadillo and his association.

Today, Angel and his wife Vilma’s shop has become a gift shop, but inside it, there are still sentimental mementos of its days as a barbershop. Around Angel’s old barber’s chair you will find countless photos, memories and memorabilia from the past. Angel himself, now in his nineties, is a gold mine of stories, memories and odd facts related to the glory days and subsequent decay of Route 66 in Arizona.

Just think that the creator of Cars, John Lasseter, said that the plot of the film was developed from the stories and testimonies of Angel, which makes us understand the importance of Seligman for fans of Lightning McQueen and his friends. As long as Angel is among us, he will fight with all his might to keep the legend of Mother Road alive.

The Rusty Bolt

seligman arizona route 66

The Rusty Bolt (115 AZ-66), with its hot pink Cadillac parked in front of it, is yet another eye-catching Seligman gift shop. While inside we find the usual assortment of Route 66 designer souvenirs stacked up on the shelves (geared towards bikers), outside we see a clumsy but nice reproduction of a saloon, a night club, and a hippies commune all combined into one, with a male and female audience of… mannequins.

Historic Seligman Sundries

historic seligman sundries

This place is without a doubt a landmark of Seligman or, if anything, the most photographed place. Make a stop at 22405 AZ-66 to admire the multicolored facade (with an airplane tail) of the Historic Seligman Sundries. You can also visit the interior of this colorful vintage-style gourmet museum-warehouse-cafeteria, known to be one of the district’s longest-running businesses.

Founded in 1904, the place was also a theater and dance hall before becoming a soda shop for patrons. Today, this place has an enviable collection of knick-knacks (hence “sundries”!), vintage cars and motorcycles, and precious historic relics to tell the story. Fans of Cars will be interested to know that in front of the entrance, among vintage cars and various scraps, you will find none other than Mater in the flesh, or rather, in engine and muffler!

Westside Lilo Cafe’s and Seligman Depot

seligman route 66 history

At the western end of Main Street you will find Seligman’s last two attractions. It’s worth it to make a quick stop.

  • Coming from Williams, on your left, you’ll find the Westside Lilo’s Cafe, a classic American rustic cafe where you can eat a good hamburger. Behind the cafe, you will also find a beautiful Cars-themed mural. Kids will love the mural!
  • On the right side, you will see the Seligman Depot, an unusual replica of a western town with a prison, stable, hotel, bank, and dentist. The property of this pseudo-ghost town is the adjacent Roadkill 66 Cafe, which serves as a saloon. How can you tell that the town is fake? From the date on the prison: “1860 Arizona Territorial Jail”. Seligman did not even exist in 1860. It was founded in 1886.

Things to Do Near Seligman

From the naturalistic point of view, the main point of interest is clearly the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The park is located 102 miles east of Seligman (about 1 hour 40 minutes). This park certainly needs no introduction, but at the link below you will find many tips for the visit. A little further away (about 143 miles away), on the Hualapai Reservation, you will find the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, famous for its Skywalk, a daunting walkway on the edge of the canyon.

The Grand Canyon Caverns, located west of Seligman, halfway between Seligman and Peach Springs, are deep caves with a t-rex and a gas station named Radiator Springs. We’ve already talked a bit about it in our in-depth guide to Route 66 in Arizona.

Finally, not far from Seligman there is also another place that many hiking enthusiasts dream of visiting. I am referring to the mysterious Havasu Falls, which can be reached on foot via a long, sunny trail and on the condition that you book expensive accommodations in Supai, in the Havasupai Reservation. The beginning of this trail is 90 miles from Seligman. On the way there, you will mainly drive on a secondary road (Indian Road 18). There is also a helicopter tour, but it is very expensive!

Where to Stay? Motels in Seligman

hotels seligman

Seligman is very small, but it boasts a handful of characteristic Route 66 style motels that can suit those who want to stay overnight in a place with an old-fashioned atmosphere and within a reasonable distance of the Grand Canyon. You can check the availability of accommodations by clicking on the link below.

Motels in Seligman

 

Bernardo Pacini
Bernardo Pacini

I am an editor and copywriter and have published some poetry. Besides traveling, my interests include literature, experimental music and good food

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.