Last Updated: 1st May, 2021
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Illinois is increasingly becoming a more popular state for tourism, and this is bolstered by the great road trip activities available here. You’ll find some strange things along the road – albino squirrels, knick knacks along famed Route 66 and even the world’s largest bottle of ketchup.
Find quirky attractions off the beaten path – keep reading!
Fly right into Chicago O’Hare International Airport and pick up a car at this large hub. The Windy City has a lot to offer to begin your road trip – shopping, parks, museums, music, golf, and a slew of professional sports teams to cheer on.
From Chicago, head west towards the Mississippi River and you will be rewarded with a scenic drive.
Great River Road is a National Scenic Byway that takes you down the Mississippi River. Small towns along the way include Galena, Fulton, Moline, Quincy, Alton, and Chester and each have their own assortment of weird attractions and shops.
Though you can stop anywhere along the way that interests you, we recommend stopping in Alton – known as the most haunted town in America. See the creepy Historic Museum of Torture Devices, then if you dare, stop at one of many notoriously haunted houses like McPike Mansion.
Shake off the scare, and continue driving south. Through Collinsville, you’ll see the world’s largest ketchup bottle, which is really a water tower.
From here, head south towards Shawnee National Forest. This area contains another lovely drive along the Ohio River Scenic Byway.
Starting right at the Indiana border, the road winds along the Ohio River until it hits Cairo. The journey is four hours, but it will certainly take you longer as you stop to explore the breathtaking scenery and land formations. See unique formations like Camel Rock or Cave-In Rock, an enormous limestone cavern. The road is rich with history from the civil war and Native American culture.
If you’re into seeing something strange, stop in Olney, hometown of families of albino squirrels – so popular they even get the right-of-way on streets
Head north on I-57, then onto I-39 and you will arrive at Starved Rock State Park, an iconic attraction in Illinois with cavernous rocks, towering trees and amazing waterfalls. The roads wind through the park and there are many hiking trails where you can stop and take in the splendor.
Illinois has no shortage of quirky sites and winding, exciting scenic roadways, so get in your car and see all the state has to offer on a road trip.