Named for Judge Clinton Irwin and not for former president Bill, Clinton (pop. 9,393) started life as a trading post for local Cheyenne Arapahoe people and is now in the spotlight as home of the official Oklahoma Route 66 Museum (2229 W. Gary Blvd., 580/323-7866, daily, Tues.-Sat. Dec.-Jan., $7), near the west end of town. Unlike many other “museums” along the route, this one is a true showcase and not just another souvenir stand. Funded by a variety of state and local sources, the museum opened in 1995 after undergoing a massive, million-dollar expansion and improvement. Collectors from all over the country, including Clinton’s own Gladys Cuthbert, whose husband, Jack Cuthbert, was the primary promoter of Route 66 throughout its glory years, donated signs, artifacts, and memorabilia that have been organized into a comprehensive exhibition of Mother Road history and culture not to be missed by any Route 66 aficionado. (There’s a good gift shop, too.)
Childhood home of country-western star Toby Keith, Clinton also has the nice McLain Rogers public park, with a swimming pool and water slide, at the center of town along 10th Street (old Route 66.
For food, west of town along the I-40 frontage, just north of exit 62, Jigg’s Smoke House (580/323-5641) is a tiny cabin specializing in travel-friendly beef jerky. The slightly faded Trade Winds Inn (2128 W. Gary Blvd., 580/323-2610, $50 and up), across from the Route 66 museum, played host to Elvis Presley at least four times. Elvis’s room has been “preserved” as a mini shrine, and you can stay in it (for around $100) and experience a time warp back to the mid-1960s. There’s also a Hampton Inn and many other national chains.