Best Northern Illinois Road Trips

America is a country partially built on the great tradition of road trips. Before everyone started flying everywhere, the country’s intricate road networks, which still crisscross the nation, were the lifeblood of many a small town and city. For many, they still are. If you’re thinking about your next road trip in northern Illinois, we have some great tips for you on where to go! We’ll look at three routes --- the Great River Road, Historic Route 66, and the Illinois Lincoln Highway.

Great River Road
This 570-mile stretch runs from East Dubuque in the north, down to Cairo in the south, following the Mississippi River all the way, and passing through some 18 different counties. Winter time is especially good if you’re a birdwatcher. The skies will be littered with eagles and other spectacular birds of prey. The northern part of the route is filled with great charming riverside spots and lovely towns full of their own unique character. Stop in Galena to see the characteristic old buildings housing the artisanal shops and small restaurants. You can get more history in Nauvoo too, the town named by Mormon church founder, Joseph Smith. The town is a treasure trove of heritage. Finally, there’s Quincy, whose Washington Park hosts great events like the Dogwood Festival.
Historic Route 66
Starting in the incredible city of Chicago, this iconic route heads west, with 300 miles of road in Illinois alone. Over its long history it has become a literary and cultural icon, at first symbolizing escape, especially from events like the Dust Bowl. Nowadays, though, it’s about adventure and renewal. Why not enjoy the Illinois end of the route, enjoying highlights like Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant and Bakery. Located right at the beginning of the route in downtown Chicago, it’ll give you the perfect sendoff with sumptuous breakfast and lunch fare before your journey starts. Automobile enthusiasts also shouldn’t miss the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum --- a temple to automotive heritage. Route 66 is history in your backyard. Don’t miss out!

Illinois Lincoln Highway
This 179-mile National Scenic Byway is steeped in heritage, and runs across much of the north of the state. It is now mostly paralleled by I-80 and I-88. It is part of a much larger system, of course, running east to west coast to coast. Many sights and towns on the route are well worth a visit, such as Dixon, IL, the childhood home of none other than former President, Ronald Reagan. If that’s not for you, then stop in beautiful Joliet to take in the views of the Des Plaines River and the rugged limestone exteriors that still clad this former steel town. Travel the road and visit the unique communities along the way. There’s all the warmth and hospitality in the world waiting for you.


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