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10 Beautiful Scenic Drives to Take in Illinois


When people think of Illinois, they often think of the big city of Chicago. However, there is so much more to see in this state. From the rolling hills of the countryside to the beautiful lakes and rivers, there is something for everyone in Illinois. If you are looking for a way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, then take a drive on one of these ten scenic routes. You'll be able to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the state and maybe even find a new favorite place to visit.

10. Great River Road

The Great River Road is a National Scenic Byway that runs along the Mississippi River. It stretches for (3,330 km) from Minnesota down to the Gulf of Mexico. In Illinois, the road runs through the cities of Rock Island, Moline, and Grafton. Along the way, you'll see some of the most beautiful scenery along the river. You can also stop at one of the many parks or museums located along the route.

9. Wabash River Wines

Wabash River Wines is a gorgeous drive through Southern Illinois wine country. The route takes you along the Wabash River, through the Shawnee National Forest, and past several vineyards and wineries. This is an excellent drive for a sunny day, as there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view. It is 503-mile-long, so it is a bit of a commitment, but it is worth it. The scenic drive is open year-round and is a great way to experience all that Illinois offers.

8. Ocean to Ocean Drive

This scenic drive will take you from the shores of Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. You'll pass through some of Illinois' most beautiful scenery, including rolling hills, farmland, and forests. The drive is about four hours long, but you can easily make it a day trip by stopping at some of the many attractions. The drive is breathtaking in the fall when the leaves are changing color.

7. Knox County Scenic Drive

The Knox County Scenic Drive is a 19-mile route that takes you through some of the most beautiful countrysides in Illinois. The drive starts in Galesburg and takes you through rolling hills and farmland before ending in Maquon. You'll pass by several small towns and villages, each with its unique charm. The drive is best enjoyed in the spring or fall when the leaves change color, but it can be beautiful in any season.

6. Shawnee Hills Wine Trail

Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is a beautiful drive that takes you through the Shawnee National Forest. The drive starts in Makonda, IL, and ends in Murphysboro, IL. According to the Shawnee Wine Trail website, the drive is 40 miles long and takes about 2 hours to complete. The best time to take this drive is when the leaves are changing color in the fall. However, the drive is beautiful in any season and is a great way to see the Shawnee National Forest.

5. Illinois River Road

The Illinois River Road is a 35-mile long scenic drive that takes you along the Illinois River. The road offers beautiful views of the river and the surrounding countryside. There are also several exciting stops, including the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, and the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Remember, this is a long drive, so make sure to take your time and enjoy the scenery and carry a map with you just in case.

4. Spoon River Valley

Spoon River Valley is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in Illinois. This drive will take you through the Spoon River Valley, full of bluffs, rolling hills, and beautiful scenery. You'll also pass by some of the state's most beautiful rivers, including the Spoon River and the Illinois River, and the river starts at Lake Michigan and ends at the Mississippi River. The route has over 100mile of scenic routes that you can enjoy while visiting all the historic sites and 17 villages.

3. Historic Route 66

Historic Route 66 is one of the most iconic roads in America. And while it no longer exists as an official highway, you can still follow the "Mother Road" path by driving along Route 66 in Illinois. according to Wikipedia, the 3940 km road takes you through small towns and big cities, past towering cornfields and rolling hills. You'll see some of the best that Illinois offers, including the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.

2. Historic National Roa

The National Road was one of the first federally-funded highways in the United States, and it runs through some of the most beautiful scenery in Illinois. The road goes through small towns and rural areas, so it's the perfect place to take a leisurely drive. You'll see farmland, forests, and plenty of historical landmarks. It is also a great road to take if you're a bicycle enthusiast, as plenty of bike trails run alongside it. The road is 620 miles long, so it's an excellent option for a day trip or a more extended road trip.

1. Ohio River Scenic Byway

The Ohio River Scenic Byway is a 188-mile drive along the Ohio River from Golconda, Illinois, to New Haven, Illinois. According to their official website, the byway offers beautiful views of the river and the surrounding bluffs and opportunities to stop and explore the many small towns along the way. The byway is open to vehicles of all sizes and is suitable for driving any time of year. The scenic byway is also a popular route for bicycling and hiking.


There are many beautiful scenic drives to take in Illinois. No matter what time of year it is, there's sure to be a scenic drive that's perfect for you. They offer a great way to see the best of what Illinois offers, from the small towns and rural areas to the big cities and historical landmarks. You're sure to create some great memories by taking one of these scenic drives.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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