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Places Welcoming You

Drive 202.5 miles • 4 hours, 43 minutes

From the city with the second-tallest building in North America to small towns with friendly festivals, this trip unveils the wild side of Illinois. The River Road Scenic Byway follows the Illinois River through the heart of the Prairie State, offering interesting stops around each bend of the river.




1. Chicago

Starting Point • Entertainment, Quirky

Start your tour of the City of Big Shoulders by heading up the second-tallest building in North America, Willis Tower (New Yorks’s Freedom Tower takes the prize for tallest). Brave souls can venture out on the Ledge at the Sky Deck. Only a glass balcony will separate you from the streets, 1,300 feet below. On a clear day, you’ll see four states and get a bird’s eye view of the city. Chart your course for the rest of your Chicago adventures.


2. Ottawa

83.4 miles, 1 hour, 42 minutes • Entertainment, Food, Outdoor Recreation

Where the Illinois and Fox Rivers converge, you’ll find Ottawa, a small town with a rich history. Whether you enjoy beer or wine, this town has a spirited festival to suite your taste. Beer lovers should visit in spring, when the Midwest Morel Fest provides the unique opportunity to sample a variety of home brews. Wine lovers should visit in summer during the 2 Rivers Wine Fest. Notes of live jazz music will fill the air as you sample a selection of Illinois wines.



3. Peoria

74.3 miles, 1 hour, 50 minutes • History, Nature, Outdoor Recreation,

A drive down the River Road Scenic Byway is not complete until you spend some time on the river. Stop in Peoria and glide back in time on the Spirit of Peoria riverboat. Sightseeing cruises are offered, as well unique moonlight tours and overnight cruises. As you stand on the deck taking in the scenery, you’ll hear the sound of the paddle wheel splashing in the river. Disembark the boat and check out the scenic and historic sites of this Midwestern town.


4. Havana

44.8 miles, 1 hour, 10 minutes • History, Nature, Outdoor Recreation

Motor down to Havana, where you will find the Central Illinois Dragway. This recently renovated drag strip is home to weekly races and special events. Your heart will rev as you watch the hot rods explode down the strip. Slow down your pace by strolling along the Illinois River. Native Americans settled this area over 1,000 years ago, and you can learn about their history at the Dickson Mounds Museum.