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Since we had plenty of time to cruise Route 66 on our way home, we backtracked to Gardner to get our trading card we missed the day before. At this point, we cheated and took the interstate back to Pontiac to make better time.

We then headed over to the Route 66 Association of Illinois Hall of Fame Museum and Livingston County War Museum. This is one of our favorite places in Pontiac and has the largest Route 66 shield in the U.S. We walked around and checked out all the murals, 3D sidewalk mural, and art cars found along the way to the Pontiac Oakland Automobile Museum and the International Walldog Mural and Sign Museum. The best thing about all the museums is that they are both free and educational. We have been to Pontiac on several occasions and there is always something new in each of the museums to look forward to.

At the Hall of Fame, they recently unveiled a new preservation project display at the entrance. I was glad to see some of the places I have volunteered at being showcased. I made a special point to go to the Pontiac car museum to see the recently installed handmade scale model of the Odell Gas Station by artist Willem Bor of the Netherlands. His models are so true to life that a picture of the real place and the model side by side are nearly identical 360 degrees.

We now headed to Chenoa. I was hoping to see the vintage Pharmacy located downtown, but it was closed – maybe next time. Next on our checklist was Lexington, which has a red neon sign with the town name pointing the way from the highway. We also slowly made our way along Memory Lane, an original alignment of 66 with vintage advertising billboards and Burma Shave signs.

After that, we slipped into Towanda and the last stop on the Red Carpet Corridor tour. Be sure to check out their walking Route 66 Geographical Journey and Dead Man’s Curve. We now had completed our collection of trading cards, but there was still more of 66 to go. As you can tell, there are people, places, and things to see in even the sleepiest little town and stories to hear along the main street of America.

While heading back to home, we made one more stop on Route 66 in the small town of Atlanta. This town has a muffler man named the Bunyon Giant, a smiley face water tower, the Palms Grill Cafe, J. H. Hawes Elevator museum, murals, and so much more all within a few blocks. This is a must stop for a weary traveler to slow down and take a break. If you are ever in Mclean, get a bite at The Dixie truck stop and then head downtown to the Arcadium Video Arcade Museum where everything is playable and be prepared to drop some quarters.

On our way home, we made a quick stop in Lincoln at The Mill, which is a former restaurant being restored to reopen as a museum and visitor center. I tried to get a picture of it with my Polaroid, but unfortunately the shot did not develop. We continued to pass many other familiar places, but did not stop until we reached home. Each and every time I travel Route 66, I discover something I have not seen before. It’s amazing how the Mother Road is forever changing, yet still the same.

Thank you for coming along on our journey and I hope you enjoyed the ride. Until next time, be sure to take the scenic route, slow down, and enjoy the view out your windshield.

Click here to see our full adventure along Illinois’ scenic byways.

–Josh Friedrich, Illinois Mile Marker

Thanks to our partners for making this trip possible, including the Peoria Area CVB, St. Charles CVB, Pontiac CVB, Geneva Motel Inn and BEST WESTERN Pontiac Inn. Want to follow in Mile Marker Josh Friedrich’s footsteps? Travel the below map!


View Illinois Mile Markers: Scenic Byways Itinerary in a larger map

Meet the Mile Marker:

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Josh Friedrich

Scenic Byways
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Josh is a self confessed Route 66 addict. He loves it all: cruising the two lane road, vintage gas stations, classic roadside eateries, cool signs, interesting architecture, quirky attractions, and unique people.

His family likes traveling the roads less traveled with something different around every bend. Josh is big into photography and likes taking old Polaroid shots of Route 66 attractions. Look forward to following his adventures along Route 66 and all over the classic roads in Illinois!

Galena, Illinois was at one time the center of attention for not only the state, but The United States.

When General Ulysses S. Grant returned to town after winning The Civil War, the eyes of the nation were upon him. The grateful townsfolk presented the victorious general with a gift of a stately home overlooking the city, and soon the calls for Grant to run for president began.

The town was not wholly unknown before then. As the nation’s top producer of lead, and a major river port, it was vitally important to the country’s expansion. Though sitting a few miles from The Mississippi, upstream on The Galena River, by the mid 1800s there was no busier port between St. Louis and St. Paul as steamboats hauled massive loads of galena, the lead ore that gave the town its name.

On our visit, we found a much different place, no longer a mining community or a center of politics, this is a town rich in history that has renewed itself as a year round destination with great options for dining, shopping, boating, hiking, fishing, and skiing at nearby Chestnut Mountain Resort.

By taking a tour on the Galena Trolley, we got a complete overview of the history, lore and politics of this architecturally rich city. We began at The Belvedere, an 1857 mansion erected by Joseph Russell Jones, a cheerleader of sorts for President Grant. Our hilarious, yet informative guide, Johnny, informed us that The Belvedere is now famous for housing some of Liberace’s estate items and the drapes from Gone With the Wind.

From there the trolley climbed the hill up to Grant’s home and throughout the neighborhood where many of his colleagues lived. All in all, nine of the Union’s generals in The Civil War hailed from Galena.

Back down along the river, we covered the length of the historic Main Street and it’s easy to see why this has been named a National Register Historic District. The buildings have been wonderfully preserved and most serve as shops and restaurants, making Galena not only a delight for history buffs, but foodies and shoppers alike.

Click here to see our full adventure down The Great River Road

–David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com, Illinois Mile Markers

Thanks to our partners for making this trip possible, including the Quad Cities CVB, Galena/Jo Daviess County CVB, Quincy Area CVB and Nauvoo Tourism Office. Want to follow in Mile Markers David & Veronica’s footsteps? Travel the below map!


View Illinois Mile Markers: Great River Road Itinerary in a larger map

Meet the Mile Markers:

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David & Veronica

Empty Nesters
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David and Veronica are experiencing the collision of Baby Boomer and Empty Nester. When their youngest headed off to college, they decided to grab life by the horns, sell the nest, hit the road and become GypsyNesters!

They've been full-time travelers and have been breaking the empty nest rules since 2008. Frequent visitors of Illinois, they are looking forward to exploring the Great River Road this spring!

In 1910, President Teddy Roosevelt visited Peoria and meandered along the city’s Grandview Drive. After taking in the breathtaking views of the Illinois River Valley on the 2.5 mile stretch, Roosevelt called it the “World’s Most Beautiful Drive.”

More than 100 years later, the drive remains one of Illinois’ best. You can take in the same views of vistas and bluffs along the Illinois River and see historic neighborhood homes. As the only linear park on the National Historic Register, Grandview Drive lives up to its title with awe-inspiring panoramic sights. On a clear day, see more than thirty miles of panoramic views of Woodford, Tazewell and Marshall Counties.

Peoria’s beautiful riverfront on the banks of the great Illinois River

Peoria’s beautiful riverfront on the banks of the great Illinois River

Experience the scenic stretch by car and foot! Grandview Park is run by the Peoria Park District and features hiking trail access, picnic benches and designated overlooks. Spend time witnessing the majesty of the valley, soaking in the colors of the season and see for yourself why Teddy Roosevelt adored the route.

Grandview Drive is located on Illinois River Road, a designated National Scenic Byway. The route meanders along the banks of the Illinois River and offers remarkable outdoor adventures, quaint destinations and an abundance of history for travelers to discover. Find out more by visiting the Illinois River Road website.

–The Illinois Office of Tourism

Saturday was looking up as the rain had cleared off and the sun was shining! We hopped back on the Lincoln Highway and went in search of food and decided upon the Egg Harbor Cafe in Geneva. We thought it was a local eatery, but found out it was a chain. The place was busy, which is always a good sign. We were seated and served promptly. The decor was all about chickens and we had a nice selection of fresh fruit, bacon, eggs, and some the best French toast I’ve had. All I can say is yum, seconds please!

After breakfast, we enjoyed the scenic drive on the LH and even drove a brief section where the Lincoln Highway and Route 66 are on the same path in Plainfield. Our first stop of the day was the Joliet Historical Museum on Route 66 and the beginning of the annual Red Carpet Corridor Festival. The 90 mile long event takes place in 13 communities along the shoulders of the mother road. This year, we were striving to collect a trading card from each town highlighting a piece of their history and community.  I highly recommend the Joliet Museum to delve into road culture, astronauts, interesting photo ops, and a great gift shop.  While traveling, look out for 33 Illinois Route 66 Wayside Exhibits located in 19 towns. They are informative displays about the local history. Be sure to have some paper and pencil handy to make a cool rubbing at some of the stations.

Further down the road we stopped in Elwood, which has a great children’s park. We then rocketed to Wilmington and an awesome photo op the Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad Drive In. We met a nice couple from the UK traveling 66 and we each took a group picture for each other. We would cross paths on 66 with them many times while getting our kicks on Route 66.

Next up was Braidwood and the colorful Polk-a-Dot Drive In where we enjoyed classic road food complete with a tabletop jukebox. I suggest the chili cheese fries. The kids loved riding the red sports car and seeing the many statues outside the building. There is also a unique zoo in Braidwood across the road that shouldn’t be missed.

With our bellies full, we made a quick stop at the K Mine Museum of Godley. We dropped in at Braceville’s town hall for our trading card and a brief history on a gas station. As we continued on our trip, we arrived in Gardner and their two cell jail built in 1906 along with the Riviera’s Restaurant sign and 1920’s dining car. Both are unique pieces of history and great places for a snapshot. Unfortunately, the volunteers had already left and we couldn’t get our trading card. We now set our sights on Dwight’s restored Ambler-Becker Texaco Gas Station. In addition to the vintage gas pumps, there is also an Electronic Vehicle charging station on the premises. After that we cruised over to Odell’s Visitor Center in a restored 1932 Standard Gas Station. There is even a vintage, compact travel trailer that is open to explore.

It was now late afternoon and he headed to Pontiac and the Best Western Hotel to check in. We relaxed a bit and then headed over to Mario’s Pizza a local family owned business. The service was good, the decor was Route 66/automotive themed, and they have a game room. We loved their mozzarella filled breadsticks. The pizza was thin crust and baked perfectly with little to no grease.

Stuffed full once again, we went to see a music review At The Hop by the Vermillion Players and attend an ice cream social. We all had a great time, especially the kids. I met Ellie Alexander the Pontiac Tourism Director, she did a splendid job with all our reservations for the night. We headed back to the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed the indoor pool. The kids were ready to show off their recently learned swimming skills. Our stay was wonderful.

Keep checking back to read about our third and final day cruising Illinois’ scenic byways.

Click here to see our full adventure along Illinois’ scenic byways.

–Josh Friedrich, Illinois Mile Marker

Thanks to our partners for making this trip possible, including the Peoria Area CVB, St. Charles CVB, Pontiac CVB, Geneva Motel Inn and BEST WESTERN Pontiac Inn. Want to follow in Mile Marker Josh Friedrich’s footsteps? Travel the below map!


View Illinois Mile Markers: Scenic Byways Itinerary in a larger map

Meet the Mile Marker:

arrow

Josh Friedrich

Scenic Byways
close
info:
Josh is a self confessed Route 66 addict. He loves it all: cruising the two lane road, vintage gas stations, classic roadside eateries, cool signs, interesting architecture, quirky attractions, and unique people.

His family likes traveling the roads less traveled with something different around every bend. Josh is big into photography and likes taking old Polaroid shots of Route 66 attractions. Look forward to following his adventures along Route 66 and all over the classic roads in Illinois!

Illinois is home to many amazing destinations, attractions and events- but did you know it is also home to Superman?

Metropolis, Illinois honors its favorite superhero during the annual Superman Celebration, taking place June 11-14. Weekend festivities include contests, music, food, comic book & art shows, and a carnival.  Visitors are encouraged to come dressed in the hero’s signature red and blue!

36 Flood waters will not stop Superman

Visitors and locals honor Superman in Metropolis during its annual Superman Celebration

While in Metropolis and enjoying festival fun, stop by the Super Museum. The famed attraction houses the mythical caped hero and is filled with a $2.5 billion collection spanning 60 years. It is the perfect place to admire all things Superman!

thenicwilliams- super museum

The Super Museum houses a $2.5 billion collection of memorabilia! Photo: Instagramer (at) thenicwilliams

Metropolis is nestled in the heart of the state’s Trails to Adventure region, which makes up the southern tip of the state. It’s the perfect blend of small town charm and breathtaking natural scenery, nestled along the spectacular banks of the Ohio River.

While in town for the Superman Celebration, check out loads of other family-friendly attractions and destinations. Metropolis is home to Fort Massac State Park, the first state park in Illinois. Visit the park to catch unbeatable views of the Ohio River valley and to step back in time at an 1802 fort replica.

When planning your Superman Celebration weekend, be sure to check out  EnjoyIllinois.com for more information on great restaurants, hotels and attractions.

–The Illinois Office of Tourism