This Rural Road Trip Will Lead You To Some Of The Best Countryside Hidden Gems In Illinois
Ready to hit the road? We’ve got a very special
road trip in Illinois for you, taking you to some of our favorite hidden gems and attractions across the state. This countryside road trip has a little bit of everything: hiking trails, history, shopping, and of course, some good food. Gas up the car and load up your crew, because this is one road trip that the entire family will love. Don’t worry, this trip won’t turn into a week-long excursion (but you can extend it if you’d like), it’s a quick and easy day trip that’ll have you back home before bedtime.
From point to point, you're looking at a drive that's less than two hours. You'll want to give yourself plenty of time to explore all of the attractions, so it should add up to a full day of adventure! Feel free to use this
to guide your way or add your own stops to make the road trip one of a kind.
1. Pomona Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge Road, Natural Bridge Rd, Pomona Township, IL 62975, USA
Pomona Natural Bridge
is a great trail the entire family will enjoy. There’s plenty of parking at the trailhead, and it’s just a short walk (0.3 miles) to the bridge (though the trail can get pretty steep at times, so make sure you’ve got your good hiking shoes on). The bridge itself is a natural sandstone bridge that spans about 90 feet across and 30 feet high and is the result of millions of years of erosion. The Shallow Shawnee Cave is just a bit further along the trail, so if you’ve got the time you can check that out too!
2. Ponoma Winery
Pomona Winery, 2865 Hickory Ridge Rd, Pomona, IL 62975, USA
Ponoma Winery is along the Shawnee Hill Wine Trail, and one of the most unique things about this winery is that they specialize in wines made from locally grown fruits other than grapes. If you’ve never tried their delicious apple wines, you’re in for a real treat. Take a tour, sample some selections, and then buy a few bottles to take home to break out for your next special occasion. Be sure to check the
for hours of operation before you head over.
3. Dixie Barbecue
Dixie Barbecue, 205 W Broad St, Jonesboro, IL 62952, USA
A good road trip always includes good BBQ, and
is home to some of the best. Don’t let the unassuming exterior fool you, inside those walls, delicious pit BBQ is happening. This local eatery has been a neighborhood favorite since 1948, and the iconic Hog Burger is just one of the many tasty items you’ll find on the menu.
4. Ozark Hills Nature Preserve
Ozark Hills Nature Preserve, Jonesboro, IL 62952, USA
Time to walk off the BBQ sweats! The Ozark Hills Nature Preserve is a 222-acre nature preserve ideal for nature loves. From the unusual plant species like red buckeye and azaleas to the white oak and sugar maple forests, this tranquil space is one of the most beautiful hidden gems in Illinois. In the spring time expect your walk to be illuminated by hundreds of colorful wildflowers which often attract other beauties like butterflies, hummingbirds, and more.
5. Annabelle Market
Annabelle Market, 300 S Main St, Anna, IL 62906, USA
You can’t take a countryside road trip and not stop off an at antique store or two. Annabelle Market features 9,000-square feet of shopping, so be sure to clear out your trunk ahead of time so you’ll have plenty of room to store all of your new treasures!
6. Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center
Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center, 8885 IL-37, Cypress, IL 62923, USA
We end our country road trip down at the Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center, a nature center and natural history museum. The 7,000-square-foot facility offers several interpretive exhibits so you can learn all about the natural and cultural history of the Cache River Wetlands and then you can take to the trails to see it firsthand. There are nearly 20 miles of hiking trails to explore here, taking you through beautiful cypress-tupelo swamps, sandstone bluffs, and floodplain forests. You might even be inspired to rent a canoe and see the preserve from an entirely different perspective!
Ready for more? Here are
9 road trips in Illinois that won’t break the bank.
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