The 10 Best Backroads In Illinois For A Long Scenic Drive
By Elizabeth Crozier|Updated on August 18, 2023(Originally published August 04, 2017)
An Illinois transplant who grew up and went to school in Indiana for 22 years, Elizabeth holds a BFA in creative writing and has enjoyed traveling across the country and parts of Europe. She has visited half of the states, as well as parts of Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean, and regularly travels home to the Hoosier State to see friends and family. With more than five years of writing experience, Elizabeth’s articles have been featured on several websites, and her poetry and short stories have been published in multiple literary journals.
If you live in a highly trafficked area, you might forget how meditative it is to drive on the open road. As a state of mostly small towns, Illinois has plenty of scenic roads you can take to get away from it all and have space to look around instead of just staring at the bumper in front of you. Enjoy the scenery and take a long, lovely drive down one of these 10 amazing roads and see the best parts of the state. Let’s take a tour of some of the best backroads near Chicago.
There are always more places to explore in our great state of Illinois, so this list of the best back roads near Chicago will never be complete. Have you ever been up and down these roads? Share your experiences and photos with us! And let us know if there are any we missed.
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Chris Muras|August 18, 2023
What are the best backroads near me in Illinois?
Illinois has plenty of scenic highways and charming backroads to explore. There is bound to be one near you too. Here are a few of the best backroads in Illinois for your next peaceful drive:
Dawson Lake Scenic Drive: Some of the best scenic drives in Illinois are short and sweet. Such is the case with this 3.3-mile loop around Dawson Lake. It is a popular lake for fishing, boating, and hiking, with plenty of wildlife to catch unaware. The drive is a gentle trek with fantastic views of the 158-acre lake.
U.S. Route 50: Often called "The Loneliest Road in America," the four-hour stretch of this 3,000-mile transcontinental highway that travels from St. Louis to Allison Township, Illinois is mostly small towns and farmland. Be sure you make a pitstop in Olney, known for its unusual population of white squirrels.
Fall colors road trip: This 77-mile drive will take you to see some of the most beautiful fall colors in Illinois. We'll start out at the Long Hollow Scenic Overlook in Elizabeth on a section of the Great River Road. Our final destination is Lowden State Park. Between those two points, you'll be treated to amazing views of fall foliage along the Mississippi River.
Shawnee Hills Wine Trail: The Shawnee National Forest is a beautiful 289,000-acre area comprised of lakes, forests, and rolling hills between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. There are nearly a dozen wineries tucked away in this stunning stretch of land, so a wine country drive is one of the best backroads drives you can take if you enjoy a full-bodied spring, summer, or fall tour.