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Kingman: A Strategic Stop along Route 66 in Arizona

April 26, 2021 /
kingman arizona route 66

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

The welcome sign for Kingman, which declares it as the heart of Route 66, is not completely accurate, neither geographically (the central point is at Adrian in Texas) nor in terms of the attractions, which should not be underestimated, but they are not as iconic as many others that can be found along the Mother Road.

Despite this, stopping at Kingman is a good idea, both because of its strategic location along Route 66 (it’s very close to the border with California) and because it houses one of the most well-kept museums of the history of the most famous road in the USA.

Little Curiosity

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard got married in the Methodist church in Kingman before starting their honeymoon in Oatman.

Directions to Kingman (AZ)

directions to kingman az

As I have mentioned, Kingman is located along Route 66 in Arizona and is often included as a stop in classic West Coast road trips. It is an interesting base for those who want to visit the Grand Canyon or are on their way to Los Angeles or the Joshua Tree National Park area. The nearest major cities are Williams (about 1 hour and 45 minutes away), Las Vegas (about 2 hours away) and Flagstaff (about 2 hours and 10 minutes away).

Things to Do in Kingman

Historic Route 66 Museum

Historic Route 66 Museum kingman

This is definitely the main reason to visit Kingman. If you only have time to visit one attraction, I suggest you stop at the Powerhouse Visitor Center which houses what I believe is one of the most comprehensive museums of Route 66. The museum is on the second floor of the building and inside it houses – in addition to the inevitable historical information – many period photos, murals, and scale models with life-size mannequins that are able to make visitors immerse themselves in the atmosphere of that time period.

The price to enter the museum is only $4 per person, but when we visited it, a nice gentleman at the entrance, once he knew we were from Italy (he could tell that we did not have a local accent) did not charge us for the tickets. In addition to the exhibition,  there is a small cinema in a section of the museum where you can see a documentary that lasts about an hour that recounts the history of Route 66. Before reaching the exit of the museum, there is the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum, an exhibition dedicated to a quite unusual type of electric car.

Mohave Museum of History and Arts

what to do in KingmanThe museum aims to preserve and pass on the history of this region of the state, starting from the Native Americans until the arrival of the first Europeans and continuing with the economic and industrial development of the area, through documents, maps, photographs of the time and strange memorabilia, will be able to give you a good idea of all the historical passages that made this area to become what it is today. Tickets are $4 per person. Outside there are murals, old miners’ tools and a railway wagon dating back to the 1920s.

The Bonelli House (430 East Spring Street, less than 5 minutes by car), which also belongs to the museum, is a historic home of the city. It was originally built in 1915 with local volcanic stone. Now it has been completely renovated and houses period objects and accessories belonging to the family who built and lived in the house.

Desert Diamond Distillery

what to see in kingmanFor those who love visiting distilleries, this might be the place for you! This craft distillery close to Kingman Airport produces vodka and four different types of rum. In addition to visiting the shop, there are two types of activities:

  • Vodka and rum tasting ($10 per person)
  • Behind-the-Scenes Tour ($5 per person). Discover what goes into the production of vodka and rum in this craft distillery.

The owners are very kind and willing to give you information, answer your questions, and guide you during your purchase (for yourself or for your friends who stayed at home).

Metcalfe Park and Locomotive Park

Kingman Arizona things to doOnce you exit the Route 66 museum in the Powerhouse Visitor Center, you may want to stroll outdoors (time permitting and if Arizona‘s weather is agreeable) and take a walk in parks near the Powerhouse Visitor Center and the Mohave Museum. Metcalfe Park also has an outdoor seating area, which is ideal if you packed a lunch and want to eat outdoors, while Locomotive Park, as you might guess from the name, is known to for its huge old steam locomotive and a small memorial dedicated to fallen soldiers from Kingman who died during the Vietnam and Korean War.

Kingman Railroad Museum

kingman az what to doThis museum is located inside Kingman’s train station. For me, the most pleasant surprise of this small museum was the room dedicated to a rather large model railway in which part of the same city is also reproduced and on which several model trains travel. I recommend that you take a picture in front of the two murals drawn above the large tanks that stand at the entrance of the museum depicting a locomotive and the classic welcome to the city of Kingman.

Things to Do near Kingman

Since the city is located along Route 66, the interesting things to see do not end within the city limits. Rather, if you explore the surroundings of Kingman, in most cases, you will find some hidden gems. Let’s go and see what awaits us.

Hualapai Mountain Park

things to do near KingmanIf you want to stretch your legs and go exploring in nature, you can visit Hualapai Mountain Park (which also has a campsite) where you will have the opportunity to go on some trails through the woods and view the valley and the surrounding desert. To access the park you have to pay an entrance fee of about $7. In my opinion, if you have time and you want to get some fresh air instead of staying in air-conditioned buildings, this is a place that you should definitely take into consideration.

Cool Springs Station – Sitgreaves Pass – Oatman

things to do around kingmanBloody 66 is the gruesome nickname of the stretch of Route 66 from Kingman to the renowned ghost town called  Oatman (now it is more alive than ever, like the nearby Chloride), where you start to make the ascent up the mountain. This is because of the many accidents that have occurred in the past due to the various sharp bends and the road that becomes narrower as you approach the Sitegreaves Pass, from which you can still admire the beautiful views (rather, the passenger will be able to admire them, since it is better for the driver to concentrate as much as possible on the road).

Before the road starts to climb up the mountain, don’t miss the opportunity to take a picture in front of the old Cool Springs Station, a gas station that has been completely restored after years of neglect. These vintage attractions are one of the main reasons why Route 66 still has so much charm and continues to attract visitors from all over the world.

Giganticus Headicus at Antares Visitor Center

kingman az tourist attractionsIn Antares (about 20 minutes north of Kingman), in the charming Antares Visitor Center, you will find one of the typical tourist attractions of Route 66. We are talking about the Giganticus Headicus, a sculpture of a huge green head built in relatively recent times by an artist named Gregg Arnold using a variety of materials. It is located next to a souvenir shop that was previously a gas station (where, in addition to the typical Route 66 souvenirs, you will find reproductions of the Giganticus Headicus itself). It is definitely worth stopping here to take a picture.

Where to Eat in Kingman

We want to mention two restaurants that embody the typical atmosphere of Mother Road:

  • Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner (105 E Andy Devine Ave): This brightly colored diner is recommended for those who want to grab a bite and step back in time to the 50s.
  • Dambar & Steak House (1960 E Andy Devine Ave): A very famous restaurant in Kingman. If you want to eat a good steak in a traditional American steakhouse, then you are in the right place.

Where to Stay in Kingman

where to stay in Kingman
Photo by Birgit

Among the accommodations available at Kingman I would like to point out two hotels that belong to large hotel chains (for those who want to play safe), and a motel that is an establishment of Route 66.

The two hotels in the first category are the modern La Quinta Inn & Suites Kingman, which has spacious rooms and an indoor swimming pool, and Best Western Plus King’s Inn and Suites, a well-kept hotel in a convenient location near the Mother Road with a large outdoor swimming pool and a smaller indoor one. Both offer free parking.

If, on the other hand, you want to sleep in a quaint place, then all you have to do is go to the El Trovatore Motel. A big tower with a colorful neon sign will let you know you’ve come to the right place. This motel is definitely characterized by its exterior murals that depict the map of Route 66 and some of the famous people and stories that have made this road legendary.

Accommodations of Kingman

If you are not planning to stay in Kingman and would like to get a general idea of what other options you may find nearby on the Mother Road, I invite you to read our article by clicking on the link below.

The best accommodations along Route 66

Filippo Nardelli
Filippo Nardelli

I have a degree in History of North America and have always been fascinated by the United States.

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