Part of the problem in seeing cool things is that they tend to be spread out, making it inefficient and costly to try and see everything. You don’t have that problem on the Great River Road. Sure, this road is long, spanning the entire Western portion of the state. But following it up (or down), you will have to make zero effort to see some of the very best sights in Illinois. Here are 10 things you should definitely see on your trip.
1. Mississippi Palisades State Park
This stunning state park offers great views of the Mississippi River. The bluffs and lushness surrounding the river will truly take your breath away.
2. Fulton Windmill
Fulton, Illinois honors its Dutch heritage, and that includes the windmill. Constructed in the Netherlands, this is an authentic windmill. There is even a windmill museum if you are hungry for more windmills.
This town was once the safe space for Joseph Smith and the Mormons, as they fought off religious persecution. There are many historic buildings here from that era, and there are historical reenactments that are very interesting to see.
4. Pomona Natural Bridge
This bridge was created over many, many years through water erosion. The result is an incredibly beautiful all-natural bridge. Just a few feet away is an intriguing small cave.
5. Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
This one you'll have to actually get out of your car for (if you aren't totally scared). It links Illinois and Missouri, and it used to carry cars. Cars now travel by the new Chain of Rocks bridge.
6. Cahokia Mounds
It's crazy to think that this was once one of the most populated places in this geographic region. A sophisticated community inhabited it, and you can still see evidence of their life.
7. John Deere Pavillion
John Deere is a big part of our state's history. The Quad Cities has a nice area where you can climb on machines and simulate operating them. It's perfect for little and big kids.
At the north part of the road is the town of Galena. This charming small town is complete with trolleys, nice shops and fine fining.
9. Lock 27 Chain of Rocks Canal
Definitely get a good view of the Mississippi River while you're on the road. Lock 27 offers a pretty great view of the river below.
There are tons of cute little towns along the Great River Road, but we suggest you check out Elsah. It's just an historic river town. The town has old buildings with quaint architecture, and there are some really cool river bluffs, too.