Roads to Roam

Downstate Illinois is crossed by so many scenic byways, and each route is full of unique stories and attractions to visit. Route 66, the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail and the Great River Road all travel north and south through our territory, while the Historic National Road travels east and west. No matter which road you take, you'll find something that will make you say, "I didn't know that was in Illinois!"

The stretch of Route 66 that cuts through Downstate Illinois has a few notable stops that will make you whip out your camera. On the alignment of the Mother Road that connected Pontoon Beach and Granite City sits the Luna Café, where there fantastic neon sign is an Instagram celebrity. Once you get to Granite City, make sure to make a stop at O'Brien Tire & Auto to take a selfie in front of their huge Route 66 branded tire! The last stop is on a once-temporary alignment of Route 66 in Venice, which is home to the very large Salute to Steel sculpture! For more information, visit

The next closes stop along Route 66 is the iconic Chain of Rocks Bridge. While it's not open to drive across, it is an awesome pedestrian bridge to take in wonderful views of the Mississippi River. 

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in Downstate Illinois

PC: @jenniifer7

Two of our great road trip routes intermingle with one another — the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail and the Great River Road. Also known as "Illinois' First Road," the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail dates back to 11,000 BC. Kaskaskia was the first state capital in 1818 and is home to "The Liberty Bell of the West." A notable stop along the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail is Fort de Chartres, which was built in 1720, and is home to the oldest building in the state! As previously mentioned, the Great River Road overlaps the KC Trail through Downstate Illinois – also known as Route 3. For one of the best views in Downstate Illinois, be sure to check out Fort Kaskaskia, where there is a great overlook to view the confluence of the Kaskaskia and Mississippi Rivers. 

The most scenic drive of the KC Trail is along Bluff Road, which is especially beautiful in the Fall.

Marshall is home to the National Historic Road Welcome Center in Harlan Hall, along with 25 beautiful murals scattered throughout town. 

Running from east to west through Downstate Illinois is the Historic National Road — also known as "The Road That Built The Nation." After exploring the town of Marshall, the next town west is Casey, which is home to several HUGE things, including many Guinness World Record holders (we'll have more on that in just a couple of pages). Greenup is a fantastic stop for history buffs with several museums and a beautiful covered bridge to snap a few pictures of. Further west lies Vandalia, where the National Road Interpretive Center is located. Greenville is not far down the National Road from Vandalia and has several worthy spots to visit including the American Farm Heritage Museum, Rolling Lawns Farm's "The Milk House," and Marcoot Jersey Creamery. For some of the best food (especially dessert) along the National Road, look no further than Madison County. The pie at Blue Springs Café is famous for being "foot-hi," then you have the barks, clusters and truffles at The Chocolate Affair in Highland.

No matter what kind of trip you're looking for, the road is waiting in Downstate Illinois! For more road trip ideas, click here! 

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