5 Beautiful Scenic Drives to Cruise Beyond Chicago

The days are finally starting to warm up, and you might be itching for a way to get outside while still complying with the social distancing rules. If you stay inside your home for the next couple of weeks, you might be missing the new growth and blooms that are finally popping out around the state. Since you likely have nothing else going on, here are some beautiful scenic drives to take around Illinois to help you pass the time.

scenic drives
Photo Credit: Enjoy Illinois

Grandview Drive, Peoria Heights, IL

Grandview Drive is a little under 3 hours away on I-55 South to I-80 West, but it is well worth the journey. Teddy Roosevelt once said it was” the world’s most beautiful drive” in 1910, and the landscape has remained remarkably similar since he uttered that sentence. Grandview Drive is only 2.5 miles long, but you get great visibility of the Illinois River Valley.

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scenic drives
Photo Credit: Morton Arboretum

The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL

The Morton Arboretum is a quick 25-mile trip outside of the city on 290 W. Currently, the Arboretum is still open to both cars and pedestrians, but that is subject to change if people are not following social distancing rules. If you’re looking for places to take a scenic drive near the city, the Arboretum is the perfect place for a quick getaway.

Photo Credit: Enjoy Illinois

Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway, Peoria, IL

From I-55 South to I-80 West, you can take the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway. It starts in Ottawa and ends in Havana, passing through more than 100 nature destinations along the Illinois River. You can choose to either stay in your car and drive the whole way, or stop and go hiking, fishing, canoeing, or biking. You can check out the wildlife or wetlands along the drive as well.

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scenic drives
Photo Credit: Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive

Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive, Canton, IL

Three hours on I-80W, and you’ll be on Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive in Fulton County. With over 100 miles of scenic routes to follow, you’ll be able to get your nature fix. The Drive goes through 17 villages and other historic sites.

scenic drives chicago

Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway

The historic Route 66 passes through many major cities, and Chicago was where it originally started! Get your kicks on Route 66 by taking I-57 S to I-72 W. Once there, you’ll be able to enjoy a scenic drive and see some of the historic landmarks and markers from the golden days. In normal times, you’ll also be able to stop along the road at the various museums, but for now, you can make do with downloading the maps and brochures on the Illinois Route 66 site, allowing you to customize your driving experience.

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Just because everything is closed in Chicago doesn’t mean you can’t go anywhere. Get out of the house and go for a drive to forget about the pandemic for a few hours! Just remember to practice social distancing if you get out of the car.

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