Chicago To St Louis Road Trip: The 10 Best Stops

road trip: 10 best stops

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Embark on an unforgettable Chicago to St. Louis road trip and discover the beauty of the Midwest like never before. This scenic journey offers a perfect blend of urban excitement and natural wonders, making it a must-do adventure for any road tripper.

Spanning approximately 300 miles, the route from Chicago to St. Louis provides travelers with multiple options, including taking I-55 S or I-55 S and I-70 W. Depending on the chosen route and traffic conditions, the journey typically takes around 5-6 hours. It’s advisable to check for any potential traffic delays before hitting the road to ensure a smooth travel experience.

Along the way, road trippers can make several top stops to enhance their journey. From exploring the historic Route 66 attractions to visiting charming towns like Springfield, Illinois, and indulging in delicious local cuisine, there is no shortage of exciting experiences to enjoy. Nature enthusiasts can also take a detour to Shawnee National Forest for a peaceful retreat amidst stunning landscapes.

Whether you’re a history buff, foodie, or nature lover, the Chicago to St. Louis road trip offers something for everyone. So pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to create lasting memories on this epic Midwest adventure.

Starved Rock State Park

Essential Information

– Route Options: I-55 S from Chicago to I-80 W, then I-39 S to IL-71 W
– Opening Hours: 7:00 am – 9:00 pm daily
– Fee: $10 per vehicle for Illinois residents, $15 for non-residents
– Visit Duration: Half-day to full-day
– Ideal For: Nature lovers, hikers, families

Why is it a must stop

Starved Rock State Park is a must-stop on your road trip from Chicago to St. Louis for its stunning natural beauty and outdoor activities. The park boasts 18 canyons with cascading waterfalls, perfect for hiking and exploring. Visitors can enjoy scenic overlooks, birdwatching, and picnicking amidst the lush greenery. For the more adventurous, rock climbing and fishing are popular activities. The park’s rich history, including Native American folklore and French exploration, adds an educational element to your road trip experience. Don’t miss the opportunity to unwind in nature and create lasting memories at Starved Rock State Park.

Springfield, Illinois

Essential Information

– Route Options: Easily accessible from Chicago to St. Louis via I-55.
– Opening Hours: Varies by attraction, typically 9am to 5pm.
– Fee: Admission fees may apply for certain attractions.
– Visit Duration: 1-2 days.
– Ideal For: History buffs, road trip enthusiasts, families.

Why is it a must stop

Springfield, Illinois, is a must-stop on your road trip for its rich historical significance and diverse attractions. Start your journey at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, where you can delve into the life and legacy of the iconic president. Explore the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln served as a legislator and delivered his famous “House Divided” speech.

For a taste of nostalgia, visit Cozy Dog Drive In, the birthplace of the corn dog, and indulge in this classic American treat. Take a stroll through the historic downtown area, lined with charming shops and eateries. Don’t miss the Illinois State Capitol, a stunning architectural masterpiece that offers guided tours.

Nature lovers can unwind at Washington Park Botanical Garden, a serene oasis showcasing a variety of plant species. History buffs will appreciate a visit to the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, where you can tour the preserved residence of the Lincoln family.

In conclusion, Springfield, Illinois, offers a blend of history, culture, and charm that makes it a must-stop destination on your road trip. Whether you’re interested in presidential history, culinary delights, or scenic gardens, this vibrant city has something for every traveler.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Essential Information

– Route Options: Easily accessible from Chicago to St. Louis via I-55.
– Opening Hours: Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
– Fee: Admission fee for adults is $15, children under 15 enter for free.
– Visit Duration: Plan for at least 2-3 hours to explore the museum.
– Ideal For: History enthusiasts, families, and road trippers.

Why is it a must stop

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is a captivating destination for those traveling between Chicago and St. Louis. Dive into the rich history of one of America’s most iconic presidents through engaging exhibits and interactive displays. Discover artifacts from Lincoln’s life, including his famous top hat and the Gettysburg Address.

Visitors can explore the museum’s various galleries, each offering a unique perspective on Lincoln’s presidency and the Civil War era. From the stunning replica of the White House to the immersive Civil War experience, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see rare documents and manuscripts, such as the Emancipation Proclamation, up close. The museum also hosts special events and educational programs, making it an ideal stop for families looking to learn more about American history.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about one of the most influential figures in American history, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is a must-visit attraction on your road trip itinerary.

Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum

Essential Information

– Route Options: Accessible from Chicago to St. Louis on historic Route 66.
– Opening Hours: Open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
– Fee: Admission fee of $10 for adults, $5 for children.
– Visit Duration: Recommended visit duration is 1-2 hours.
– Ideal For: Road trip enthusiasts, history buffs, and families.

Why is it a must stop

The Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum is a must-stop destination for travelers exploring the iconic Route 66 between Chicago and St. Louis. This historical gem offers a glimpse into the rich heritage of America’s Mother Road, showcasing a collection of artifacts, memorabilia, and interactive exhibits that bring the nostalgia of the golden age of road trips to life.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the fascinating history of Route 66, learning about the evolution of transportation and roadside culture in the United States. Explore vintage cars, classic signage, and quirky roadside attractions that have become synonymous with the allure of the open road.

The museum also pays tribute to the diverse communities and individuals who have contributed to the legacy of Route 66, highlighting the stories of travelers, entrepreneurs, and visionaries who shaped the highway’s identity. From historic photographs to personal anecdotes, the exhibits offer a comprehensive overview of the road’s impact on American culture and society.

For those seeking a nostalgic journey through time, the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum is a treasure trove of Americana that captures the spirit of adventure and exploration that defines the classic road trip experience. Whether you’re a seasoned road warrior or a first-time traveler, this iconic stop along Route 66 promises a memorable and educational experience that celebrates the enduring legacy of America’s most famous highway.

Meramec Caverns

Essential Information

– Route Options: Take I-55 S from Chicago to St. Louis, then follow signs to Meramec Caverns.
– Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily.
– Fee: $25 for adults, $12 for children.
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours.
– Ideal for: Families, nature lovers, history enthusiasts.

Why is it a must stop

Meramec Caverns is a must-stop on your road trip for its captivating underground wonders and rich history. Explore the vast chambers adorned with stunning limestone formations, including the famous “Wine Table” and “Stage Curtain.” Embark on a guided tour led by knowledgeable guides who share fascinating stories about the cave’s formation and its use as a hideout for infamous outlaws like Jesse James.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Meramec Caverns offers scenic nature trails perfect for a leisurely stroll amidst the lush greenery. Don’t miss the opportunity to cruise along the Meramec River on a guided riverboat tour, where you can admire the picturesque surroundings and spot local wildlife.

History buffs will appreciate the caverns’ role during the Civil War, as a source of saltpeter for gunpowder production. Dive into the past with a visit to the Jesse James Wax Museum, showcasing life-sized figures depicting the notorious outlaw’s exploits.

Whether you’re seeking natural beauty, adventure, or a glimpse into the past, Meramec Caverns promises a memorable stop on your road trip from Chicago to St. Louis.

St. Louis Gateway Arch

Essential Information

– Route Options: I-55 S from Chicago to St. Louis
– Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
– Fee: $16 for tram ride to the top
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Families, history buffs, architecture enthusiasts

Why is it a must stop

The St. Louis Gateway Arch is a must-stop on your road trip for its iconic stature and historical significance. As the tallest man-made monument in the United States, the Arch offers visitors a chance to ride to the top in a unique tram experience, providing stunning panoramic views of the city and the Mississippi River. History buffs will appreciate the Museum of Westward Expansion located beneath the Arch, showcasing the pioneering spirit of America’s westward expansion. Families can enjoy picnicking in the nearby park or taking a relaxing riverboat cruise. For architecture enthusiasts, the sleek, stainless steel structure designed by Eero Saarinen is a marvel to behold up close. Don’t miss the opportunity to capture memorable photos of this symbol of America’s westward expansion on your road trip adventure.

City Museum

Essential Information

– Route options: Easily accessible from Chicago to St. Louis via I-55 S.
– Opening hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily.
– Fee: $14.00 for general admission.
– Visit duration: 2-3 hours.
– Ideal for: Families, solo travelers, and groups.

Why is it a must stop

City Museum is a captivating attraction that offers a unique blend of art, architecture, and interactive experiences, making it a must-stop on your road trip itinerary. As you explore this eclectic museum, you’ll encounter a variety of activities that cater to all ages and interests.

One of the main draws of City Museum is its impressive collection of architectural wonders, including a rooftop Ferris wheel that provides panoramic views of the city. Visitors can also navigate through intricate tunnels and climb through suspended bridges, adding an element of adventure to their museum visit.

For those seeking a creative outlet, the museum features art installations and exhibits that showcase the talents of local artists. From intricate sculptures to vibrant murals, there’s no shortage of visual inspiration to be found within City Museum’s walls.

Additionally, the museum offers hands-on experiences such as a giant ball pit, slides, and climbing structures, ensuring that visitors can actively engage with the exhibits. Whether you’re looking to unleash your inner child or simply appreciate the artistry on display, City Museum has something for everyone.

Overall, City Museum stands out as a one-of-a-kind destination that seamlessly combines art, architecture, and interactive fun, making it a memorable stop on your road trip from Chicago to St. Louis.

Forest Park

Essential Information

– Route Options: Easily accessible from Chicago to St. Louis road trip route.
– Opening Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset.
– Fee: Free entry.
– Visit Duration: Recommended stay of 2-3 hours.
– Ideal For: Families, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

Why is it a must stop

Forest Park is a must-stop on your road trip for its diverse range of activities that cater to all types of travelers. Start your visit by exploring the extensive network of hiking and biking trails that wind through the lush forest, offering scenic views and opportunities to spot local wildlife.

For those interested in history, the park features several historical sites and interpretive displays that provide insight into the area’s past. Take a leisurely stroll through the park’s botanical gardens, showcasing a variety of native flora and fauna.

If you’re traveling with family, be sure to check out the picnic areas and playgrounds scattered throughout the park, perfect for a relaxing break or letting the kids burn off some energy. Don’t miss the chance to visit the nature center, where you can learn more about the park’s ecosystem and participate in educational programs.

For a more adventurous experience, consider renting a kayak or canoe to explore the park’s waterways, or try your hand at fishing in the designated areas. With its tranquil atmosphere and abundance of recreational opportunities, Forest Park is a destination that promises a memorable stop on your road trip itinerary.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

Essential Information

– Route Options: Take I-55 S from Chicago to St. Louis
– Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily
– Fee: Free admission, tours available for a fee
– Visit Duration: 1-2 hours
– Ideal for: Beer enthusiasts, history buffs, road trippers

Why is it a must stop

Anheuser-Busch Brewery is a must-stop on your road trip for a unique blend of history and beer culture. Explore the iconic brewery that has been crafting quality brews for over 165 years. Take a guided tour to learn about the brewing process, from the finest ingredients to the state-of-the-art facilities. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample a variety of freshly brewed beers, including their famous Budweiser. Stroll through the historic grounds and admire the architecture of the brewery buildings. Capture the essence of American brewing tradition and indulge in a refreshing experience at Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Essential Information

– Route Options: I-55 S from Chicago to St. Louis
– Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily
– Fee: $14 for adults, $6 for children
– Visit Duration: 2-3 hours
– Ideal for: Families, nature lovers

Why is it a must stop

The Missouri Botanical Garden is a must-stop on your road trip for its stunning displays of flora and fauna. Take a leisurely stroll through the various themed gardens, such as the Japanese Garden with its serene ponds and bridges. Don’t miss the Climatron, a geodesic dome housing tropical plants and water features. For a unique experience, visit the Butterfly House and be surrounded by colorful butterflies fluttering around you. The Garden also offers educational programs and events, making it a perfect stop for families looking to learn about nature. So, make sure to add the Missouri Botanical Garden to your road trip itinerary for a refreshing and educational break.

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