The Rooted Home on the downtown square in Farmersville is located in the renovated Opera House. In addition to selling home decor, gifts and trendy apparel, The Rooted Home hosts open air Small Town Dreamers Markets spring-fall on the square.
Beal’s M&M Museum in Waggoner, IL. Photo by Tara Simmons. Read the full story on Beal’s M&M Museum online at (November 2023).

by Cheryl Eichar Jett

If you live in the Buzz coverage area, you’re not far from the legendary Route 66. For that matter, if you live anywhere in Illinois, you’re not far from the iconic Mother Road! In any case, you’re located in just the right spot to enjoy a day- or weekend-trip along some of the 300-plus miles of the famous highway that stretches from Chicago to St. Louis. Between those two major cities, there are many miles on several different alignments that are still drivable that boast charming small towns, great restaurants, museums, attractions, historic sites, shopping, and photo ops!

This January, I have on my “recommended list” some newer businesses. You can check all of these out now –  online – from your easy chair, and be ready to hit the road on a mild, late-winter day! These are ordered from north to south on Illinois Route 66 – you might just want to stop at all of them! Happy New Year!

New (or Revived) Attractions:

Lexington House on 66 (airbnb) – Lexington, IL

Go back to the 60’s on Route 66! This Groovy house with its park like backyard, is just feet away from historic Route 66 in Lexington, Ill. Take the bikes at the house for a ride down the Oldest portion of Route 66 or just relax and enjoy the restaurants, bars and shopping in downtown Lexington. This nostalgic home that sleeps 8 will transport you back in time. Lexington House is located in a quiet neighborhood less than 5 minutes from downtown with excellent restaurants, bars and shopping.

American Giants Museum (muffler men museum) – Atlanta, IL

Experience the largest collection of Muffler Men in one place on Route 66! The new American Giants Museum presents the story of International Fiberglass which produced hundreds of animals and human advertising figures in the 1960s. See for yourself how they were made and check out the dozens of original advertising figures on display. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget! Many new displays arriving in the spring! NOTE: Closed for the Winter – Opening Again Spring 2024. Grand Opening Event – Memorial Day Weekend 2024!

Elkhart Station (featuring IL makers, creators & artisans) – Elkhart, IL

Far different than modern interstate travel, Route 66 allowed travelers to appreciate what each local stop had to offer. Elkhart Station, located on the historic mother road, celebrates this rich history by introducing you to your local farmers, makers and artisans by specializing in Illinois products because it creates a healthy and vibrant community. Featuring Illinois Makers, Creators & Artisans, located in the heart of Downtown Elkhart on Historic Route 66! 23 Miles North of Springfield and 4 Miles South of Lincoln. This is another fantastic project from Conn’s Hospitality Group (Obed & Isaac’s and the Inn at 835 in Springfield).

Shea’s Gas Station Museum (iconic signage recreated for photo ops) – Springfield, IL

The story of Shea’s Gas Station Museum begins with Bill Shea’s passion for preserving the rich history of roadside Americana. Bill, a lifelong automobile enthusiast, started collecting vintage gas station artifacts and classic cars in the 1960s. As his collection grew, so did his dream of creating a museum that would allow visitors to experience the charm and nostalgia of a bygone era.

Shea’s Gas Station Museum officially opened its doors in 2002, housed in a building that dates back to the 1930s. The museum features a carefully curated assortment of antique gas pumps, oil cans, signage, and a remarkable array of classic cars that span several decades. Each exhibit is thoughtfully arranged to evoke the feel of a mid-20th-century gas station, transporting visitors to a simpler time.

After the passing of Bill Shea in July of 2023, many of the items in the collection were auctioned off. The Mahan’s Filling Station, a centerpiece of the original Museum, was moved in 2016 to ‘Fulgenzi’s Pizza and Pasta’, just a few blocks away where it remains today. Other original pieces can be found at ‘Route 66 Motorheads Bar & Grill’. The City of Springfield contracted with Ace Sign Co. to recreate the iconic signage seen in the windows, the building letters, and to craft a life-size cutout of Bill Shea so his legacy and contributions to the preservation of history will never be forgotten.

house for a ride down the Oldest portion of Route 66 or just relax and enjoy the restaurants, bars and shopping in downtown Lex

Rooted Home (home décor, home design & apparel) – Farmersville, IL

Cassie Rovey, owner of The Rooted Home, grew up in Farmersville, IL, as “small towners” and feel blessed to be rooted and raising their family there too. The Roveys bought Farmersville’s old Opera House and started a business. After renovations, the building is now The Rooted Home. Cassie’s love for home décor, home styling, and of course apparel, is exactly what The Rooted Home is. Helping others love the space they are in is one of the biggest goals. As an advocate for small businesses, The Rooted Home is the founding sponsor of the Small Town Dreamers Market. From Spring through the Fall months, you can shop small with local businesses once a month on the square in Farmersville. Not only does this allow small businesses opportunity for growth, but it encourages others to come see the charm our town has to offer. Stop in and visit or shop online!

Beal’s M&M Museum (everything M&Ms) – Waggoner, IL

Steve and Patty Beal opened their M&M Museum along the 1940-77 alignment of Illinois Route 66 in Waggoner last summer (we didn’t know that was coming when we did the 2023 Resolutions last January!). Housed in a barn-red building at 355 S. Buchanan Street, their decades-long collection of plenty of M&M memorabilia is on display, including figurines, promotional items, life-size mascots, slot machines, clock, and parked outside, an M&M van! Souvenir merchandise is available for purchase. Call (217) 494-3320 for open hours this spring.

Shea’s Gas Station Museum in Springfield. Photo courtesy Ace Sign Company.
Lexington House in Lexington, IL. Courtesy Lexington House.
Elkhart Station in Elkhart, IL. Courtesy Elkhart Station.
Giants Museum in Atlanta, IL. Photo by Cheryl Eichar Jett.