Scenic drive from Mpls to Chicago?
July 29, 2008 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Recommend a scenic travel route from Minneapolis to Chicago.

I'm driving to Chicago from Minneapolis (via my parent's near Baldwin, WI) and I have an entire day to drive, so I'd like to avoid I-94 (as I've driven it way too many times). I want to see more of the state I grew up in.

I was thinking about Hwy 61 part of the way, maybe Hwy 14, perhaps through Richland Center and Dodgeville. I don't really want to go through Madison or Milwaukee, but I'll probably hop on I-94 once I get to Illinois.

Obviously, the point of taking the scenic route, is to see interesting countryside or points of interest. So, please suggest any good ones! Also, recommendations of good eateries along the way are welcome.
posted by BradNelson to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Get to LaCrosse any way you choose. Take 35 south along the river to Prairie du Chien. Cross over into Iowa and take 52 south along the west side of the river. Cross over into Illinois and take 20 east through Galena. Pick up I-90 in Rockford; there ain't nothin much to see past that point anyway. (Google says this will take about 10 hours, but you did say you had a whole day.)

OR, take the train. It's full of awesome.
posted by desjardins at 4:21 PM on July 29, 2008

OR, follow the Wisconsin River east from Prairie du Chien. You can cut southeast before Madison, but I don't have any specific suggestions.
posted by desjardins at 4:25 PM on July 29, 2008

I-90, should you take it, runs just past Baraboo, WI and Devil's Lake State Park. Devil's Lake is truly lovely and not to be missed, especially if you'd like to get out of the car and go on a little picnic hike (or climb).
posted by adiabat at 4:38 PM on July 29, 2008

61 is a very nice drive, it's what I always take when driving to Madison (for the same reason of avoiding 94).

Or how about driving east to Green Bay and up to Door County, and then down the coast through Sheboygan, Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and then into Illinois.
posted by emoeby at 4:43 PM on July 29, 2008

Yes, definitely go through La Crosse. The river drive is quite nice, with some excellent views of Lake Pepin. Between Minneapolis and La Crosse, I've often taken 61 along the river on the Minnesota side as well, and I'd highly recommend it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:45 PM on July 29, 2008

I'll 2nd des. Lots of cool river stuff to see along that route. Also, it's the closest thing to mountain driving that you can do in Iowa. You could even stop at the River Museum/Aquarium warning, obnoxous noises in Dubuque.

As an alternative, there is the Great River Road, that's pretty scenic but it goes through the middle of every town on the way.

If you're looking for the scenic route, then you probably don't need to be told to stay off of the Interstates.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:07 PM on July 29, 2008

And if your route takes you through Pepin, WI, stop for lunch at The Harbor View Cafe down on the waterfront. Foodies drive down there from the Twin Cities just for a meal.
posted by exphysicist345 at 7:00 PM on July 29, 2008

Milwaukee art museum is pretty cool. So is the Manitowoc Great Lakes Maritime Museum. As is Penninsula state park, and the train museum in Green Bay. You could also potentially catch some Packer's training camp in Green Bay.

This would be recommending 41 and 43 -- Routes along Michigan's lakeshore. Much easier to drive long distance on this side of the lake instead of the Michigan side since there are much less smaller lakes adjacent to Lake Michigan on this side.
posted by garlic at 3:27 PM on July 30, 2008

I love driving Rte. 14 -- lots of beautiful rolling farmland.
posted by me3dia at 9:50 AM on August 1, 2008

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