Vague road trip question
June 14, 2014 6:57 PM   Subscribe

I want to take a road trip this summer but have no idea where. I'm willing to drive within about a 10 hour radius of Champaign, IL. Specifications inside.

I asked this question last year about more local tourism- I'm now broadening the range and looking for a great destination or set of destinations where I can take an actual vacation, rather than just a day/weekend trip.

I go to Chicago regularly and Indy semi-regularly, so I don't want to go there. I like natural wonders, all kinds of museums, local festivals, weird stuff that I can explore, and active stuff (for example, I loved the suggestion of the wild cave tours in yet another road-trip related AskMe). Any ideas?
posted by quiet coyote to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Have you been to Missouri? Jesse James, Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder's Rocky Ridge Farm, St. Louis and Kansas City.
posted by brujita at 7:14 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

St. Louis. We've got the City Museum, which hits "museums", "weird stuff I can explore", and "active stuff". There's also Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in the US, which is also home to the Art Museum, the Science Center, the History Museum and the Zoo, all free. Whole bunch of other stuff here too, of course, but those are the ones off the top of my head that hit your points.

Also consider Southern Illinois. Giant City State Park is pretty great for natural wonders, exploring and active stuff.
posted by brentajones at 7:24 PM on June 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Drive as much of the Great River Road as you can.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:43 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's just about the edge of your 1-hour boundary, but you can hunt for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas and hunt for diamonds, explore the trails.

Then I'd head over to Hot Springs and check out some music and food and, of course, the hot springs.

There are also waterfalls in the Ouachita National Forest.

Of course, Arkansas is home to lots of crystal digging places. If you don't find a diamond, you can get some neat looking paper weights.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:53 PM on June 14, 2014

Crater of Diamonds State Park is something.
Diamonds are found there most every day.

In total, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at Arkansas’s diamond site since the first diamonds found in 1906 by John Huddleston, the farmer who at that time owned the land, long before the site became an Arkansas state park in 1972. The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed here in 1924 during an early mining operation. Named the Uncle Sam, this white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats. Notable diamonds found by park visitors since the state park was established at the site include the Amarillo Starlight, a 16.37-carat white diamond discovered in 1975 which ranks as the largest diamond ever found by a park visitor. The second largest find by a park visitor is the Star of Shreveport, an 8.82-carat white gem unearthed in 1981. In 2011, a visitor from Colorado found an 8.66-carat white diamond she named the Illusion Diamond, which is the third-largest gem registered here since the Crater of Diamonds State Park was established.

For more information, contact Crater of Diamonds State Park at 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958. Phone: 870-285-3113 or visit

(you get to keep any diamonds that you find)
posted by QueerAngel28 at 11:29 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nauvoo! Home of the mormons!
posted by jennybento at 11:44 PM on June 14, 2014

House On The Rock?
posted by malhaley at 3:42 AM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about Minneapolis-St Paul? Lots and lots of interesting museums and quirky-weird local stuff. The drive would be nice, too: you drive through a beautiful part of WI and then you have the La Croix region between MN and WI which is breathtaking.

You could also stop at the House on the Rock on the way.
posted by lunasol at 6:42 AM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I suspect there are a lot of interesting options between Champaign, IL, and Asheville, NC, you could explore. I would do the city version: Indianapolis, Louisville, Knoxville, Asheville, but I'm a food and drink person. However, there are lots of diverse destinations in between the two.

Or just drive straight to Asheville.
posted by juliplease at 9:08 AM on June 15, 2014

You might need a palate cleanser after the House on the Rock (which was fun but profoundly weird). I heartily recommend the B.B. King Blues Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, MS, about 8 hours south of you, via Memphis. It's one of the more charming and engaging museums I've been to - a fun mix of exhibits on blues history and music theory, and the life of B.B. King, who is quite the showman.

We spent a week in MS eating our way across the Delta a few years ago, and the B.B. King Museum was one of the highlights of our trip.
posted by deliriouscool at 9:48 AM on June 15, 2014

Lake Michigan road trip (helpful previous) to Sleeping Bear. Off that route you could find things like: night clubs, camping, casinos, hiking on the North Country Trail, powwows, museums or festivals for things like strawberries, mint, asparagus, wine, pickles, cherries, fudge, buttermilk, blues, lilacs, jazz or sand sculptures.
posted by mibo at 1:22 PM on June 15, 2014

Washington Island, Door County, WI

Lots of museums (examples 1, 2), festivals and nature stuff (examples 1, 2) on the way. Rent a bike or kayak when you get to the island. Avoid driving through Chicago by taking I-39 through Rockford.
posted by desjardins at 3:06 PM on June 15, 2014

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