For over 20 years, Samantha Brown has traversed continents, experienced culture and tasted adventure, applying her singular brand of warmth and inclusion along the way. Known for her programs “Passport to Europe,” “Passport to Latin America,” “Great Weekends” and a myriad of other fun and informative travel series, Brown has spanned nearly every corner of the globe – showing viewers some of the best little-known spots and haunts along the way.
In her latest PBS series, “Places To Love,” Brown explores the emotional heart of travel and the people who change, challenge and strengthen a destination. The series, which has included locales such as Australia and South Korea in prior seasons, returned to the U.S. to explore one of the quintessential road trips – the Illinois stretch of Route 66. For your convenience, the episode can be watched below this story.
“I’m traveling to a destination that offers an incredible road-trip adventure. But not just any road trip, the road trip. The long and winding American icon that beckons us all,” said Brown in a teaser clip released ahead of the episode.
“It travels through eight states, starting in Chicago and ending in California,” she said. “And since I don’t have the time to go the full way, I’m focusing on the first state. Which will give me the full experience in the short time I have. It’s the place where the Mother Road journey began and, for me, begins. I’m in the state of Illinois, driving its share of the famous Route 66.”
“Samantha Brown’s Places to Love” takes viewers on a discovery of the people and attractions that deliver a decidedly refreshing and enriching travel experience.
On her trip on Illinois’ Route 66, Brown (joined by longtime stylist and friend Christina Burns) tours a number of iconic sites located along The First Hundred Miles of America’s Mother Road. The episode starts with a tour of The Old Joliet Prison, famed for its appearance in the classic film comedy “The Blues Brothers.”
Brown and Burns then stop for a bite at the retro burger haven Polk-A-Dot Drive In in Braidwood, before exploring the legacy of a classic car company at Pontiac’s own Pontiac-Oakland Auto Museum. They then visit iconic Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire’s famed Land Yacht – the inspiration for the character Filmore in Disney/Pixar’s “Cars,” and stock up on road-trip snacks at Wally’s, a super-sized convenience store/gas station on Historic Route 66.
Other featured attractions, located beyond The First Hundred Miles of the Mother Road, include the historic Sprague Super Service gas station in Normal, a trip to the Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup farm, a visit to Arcadia – America’s playable arcade museum, a fascinating stop at Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, a look back in time at a Route 66 history museum and iconic snack at the Cozy Dog Drive In.
Brown and Burns’ epic road trip concludes with a stop at the scenic and culturally significant Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site and a walk across the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. Built in 1929, the bridge connects Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri, and for decades was a useful landmark, letting road trippers know they’d concluded the first leg of Route 66.
“Samantha Brown’s Places to Love” S7 E2 - Route 66, Illinois, aired Jan. 11, on PBS stations across the country. The episode now can be viewed below or via the PBS App, available for free on all major streaming platforms.
To explore more of the latest season, which finds Samantha heading to the northernmost city in the land down under, taking a trip to the beautiful New Hampshire Seacoast and many other exciting new destinations, be sure to visit Samantha-Brown.com.
To learn more about Illinois’ Route 66 and The First Hundred Miles, be sure to visit HCDestinations.com and TheFirstHundredMiles.com, then follow Heritage Corridor Destinations on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.