Imagine hundreds of vintage cars rusting in the blazing hot Breaking Bad sun of the New Mexico desert and that'll give you an idea of the Lewis Antique Auto & Toy Museum. As you approach it on old Route 66, you'll realize pretty quickly that this is not your typical car museum.
With his grizzled countenance, piercing eyes and cowboy hat, owner Archie Lewis looks like the long-lost brother of Willie Nelson. He's been collecting cars and toys for decades and doesn't seem like he'll ever stop. But this is no junkyard. Lewis makes it clear that he doesn't sell spare parts, so the vehicles are more or less intact. (Well, sometimes very less. A few look like they were towed here directly from the scene of an accident decades ago.)
Pride of place goes to the cars protected from the elements and stored in the massive warehouse. Here you'll find antique toys, plus rows of original-condition and semi-restored Ford Model Ts, Model As, Thunderbirds, and more.
It's a bit musty and dusty, but a true walk down memory lane. It's the opposite of seeing all the cars in pristine showroom condition. Plus, with over 1,000 toys on display, odds are you'll find a favorite toy from your childhood.
Outside, it's not just cars. There are also school buses, tractors, trucks, fire trucks, and more. A large collection of diminutive Crosleys look more like bumper cars from an amusement park than something you'd take on the open road.
The museum is a great place to stop if you're into automotive archaeology or photography. You'll get some incredible photos under the same cobalt blue skies and crisp clouds where Breaking Bad was filmed. In fact, Esquire magazine admired the place so much they did a photo shoot in the car lot a few years ago as part of a cross-country road trip.
The Lewis Museum should definitely be a part of any Route 66 itinerary.
Location: 905 US 66 East, Moriarty, NM 87035. Right off I-40 at exit 197, about 40 miles east of Albuquerque.
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but best to call ahead to confirm someone is there.
Phone: (505) 832-6131
Michael Milne is the author of the Roadster Guide to America's Classic Car Museums & Attractions.