Illinois Road Trips

By Theresa L. Goodrich

Illinois is a land of prairies, rolling hills, farmland, and industry. Founded in 1818, the “Land of Lincoln” has been home to four US presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and Abraham Lincoln. Eighty percent of Illinois is farmland, but with Chicago in the northeast corner, the population exceeds twelve and a half million people.

Portions of four of the country’s most famous scenic highways run through the state, making Illinois a road-tripper’s dream. Route 66 begins its storied adventure in downtown Chicago, and the National Road has been bringing travelers all the way from Maryland to the Mississippi River since the early nineteenth century.

Speaking of the Mississippi, an explorer can get a taste of that thoroughfare—also the state’s western border—with a drive along the Great River Road. And for additional spectacular riverside motoring, the Ohio River Scenic Byway is a winding trail of history and scenic views.

I’ll introduce you to these historic routes and point out several of the best places to stop along the way. We’ll visit one of the most important archaeological sites in North America, see plenty of “World’s Biggest” attractions, and stand where Lewis and Clark began their journey.

From the booming metropolis of Chicago to the small city of Metropolis, from land that feeds the world to innovation that changed it, you’ll get a taste of the state’s complexity, variety, and good ol’ Midwestern heart.

Illinois Road Trip Map

Illinois Road Trips

  1. Route 66
  2. Historic National Road
  3. Ohio River Scenic Byway
  4. Great River Road

llinois Websites

Links to Illinois destinations. Please note links are subject to change.

Route 66

Historic National Road

Ohio River Scenic Byway

Great River Road