Fun photo ops and the best darn pie you’ve ever tasted at the Palms Grill Cafe make Atlanta, IL an excellent Route 66 destination or even a quick I-55 detour…
The Route 66 town of Atlanta, IL has a population of less than 1,700, about 480,000 or so fewer people than Atlanta, GA, but don’t let this little town’s population fool you. It’s a top-notch tourist destination all the same. With friendly folks and a classic diner with pie so good you’ll come back for seconds, Atlanta, IL should be a stop for anyone traveling Route 66 or even just heading down I-55.
We first stopped in Atlanta on a solo Route 66 trip several years back, and we’ve been sharing this little oasis with everyone ever since. Anchored by the Palms Grill Cafe, Atlanta is a small town packed full of charm.
Palms Grill Cafe:
It’s not uncommon to stop by the Palms Cafe and see the town’s library treasurer Bill Thomas welcoming you with a smile and handshake. It’s just that kind of place- a diner with a tradition of serving its community and hungry travelers from near and far.
First opening its doors in the 1930s, the Palms Grill Cafe welcomed Route 66 motorists during the heyday of the Mother Road and served as a community meeting spot and even a Greyhound station until eventually closing its doors in the 1960s. Thanks to the vision of several Atlanta folks, it reopened in 2009 and has been drawing people back to Atlanta ever since.
The neon sign again welcomes travelers into what feels like a time capsule of a diner. From the vintage cash register to the classic diner-style tablewares, the ambiance of the Palms Grill Cafe is pure nostalgic perfection.
The food doesn’t disappoint either. While their menu is packed with delicious diner comfort foods, we, like most people who’ve visited, have to take a minute to rave about their pies. From coconut creme to good ol’ apple, we’ve tried almost all of them at some point. Please don’t ask us to pick a favorite.
For larger groups, they have an inviting back room with photos of Atlanta over the years, so if you’re barreling down Route 66 with 20 buddies on Harleys, they can accommodate. (Just be friendly and call ahead.)
Other notable spots in Atlanta:
After overindulging at the Palms, walk it off around town with plenty of other little Route 66 gems.
First on your list should be the gigantic muffler man holding a hot dog across the street from the Palms.
Muffler men like this used to dot the American roadside, mostly used as signage for muffler shops. Atlanta’s Paul Bunyan giant was eventually outfitted with a hot dog and used to attract customers to a hot dog joint in Cicero before finding a home in Atlanta.
Next door to the giant you’ll find the wonderfully eclectic Gunnar Mast Trading Post. A popular Route 66 stop for several years, the place is packed full of everything under the sun. Browse, shop, and enjoy one of the funkier places along the Mother Road…
After taking all your cheesy photos and visiting the trading post, hop back across the street for the Atlanta Route 66 Arcade Museum, a stunning collection of vintage video game machines.
When you’ve run out of quarters, walk next door to the Atlanta Museum before walking over to take a peek inside the town’s beautifully restored public library. Then head back downtown for a little shopping at the Arch Street Artisans and a stroll through Memories, a treasure chest of antiques and classic cars.
While that “other” Atlanta down south gets a lot of press, we’re just as happy spending a long lunch hour in the quaint Atlanta of Illinois. Great food, fun photo ops, and friendly people… It’s what a trip down Route 66 is all about.
110 SW Arch St
Atlanta, IL 61723