3 Best Road Trips From Chicago (And Where to Stay)

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3 Best Road Trips From Chicago (And Where to Stay)

Calling all Chicagoans in search of local travel inspiration. We’re sharing itineraries for three Illinois road trip destinations within three hours of Chicago: Peoria, the Quad Cities, and Galena. Plus, we’ve rounded up the best Stoney Creek Inn and Hotels accommodations in each location for a cozy overnight stay.

While there’s no shortage of things to do in the “Windy City,” sometimes a break from the hustle and bustle of city life is just what the doctor ordered. The remedy? Adventure-filled road trips from Chicago.

Whether you’re looking to escape the city grind or cross some of the state’s charming small towns off your bucket list, we’ve got you covered with three itineraries for road trips in Illinois – no airplane ticket required.

Here’s your guide for what to do, where to eat, and the best Stoney Creek Inn and Hotels stays at three Illinois destinations, all less than three hours from Chicago.


Trade in the Windy City for the Whiskey City

Nicknamed “The Whiskey City,” this central Illinois river city’s claim to fame as an iconic distilling destination traces back to the early 1800s. Nowadays, visitors can pay homage to the whiskey legacy at “Distillery Row” downtown – plus, there are plenty of activities and attractions for the whole family, from connecting with nature in lush green spaces to dining at culinary hot spots.

What To See:

Nature lovers can roam miles of greenery at Glen Oak Park, home to the Luthy Botanical Garden and Peoria Zoo, plus playgrounds, pickleball courts, and hiking trails. There are also 220 acres of beauty to explore at Mineral Spring Park by way of a leisurely paddle boat journey across the lagoon.

Want a taste of Peoria’s culture and history? Don’t skip the Peoria Riverfront Museum, a combination planetarium, sculpture garden, and fine art collection. You’ll also find the Pettengill Morron House Museum, an emblem of the Second Empire architectural style listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Where To Eat:

You’ll need plenty of fuel before hitting local distillers like BLACK BAND Distillery – luckily, the Peoria area has a lineup of enticing eateries to choose from. Sample house-smoked barbecue bites and wash them down with craft brews at The Blue Duck Barbecue Tavern, indulge in a fine dining experience with old-world flavors at 2Chez, or opt for authentic Vietnamese cuisine from Thanh Linh

Where To Stay:

After a day spent exploring the great outdoors and uncovering Peoria’s history, hang your hat at the Stoney Creek Hotel Peoria, named “Best Hotel From Locals” in the Journal Star’s 2023 Best of the Best Awards. There’s easy access to the riverfront – the property is just one block away from the water – and both indoor and outdoor pools for cooling off.


Roam the Quad Cities Along the Mississippi River

When the banks of the Mississippi River call your name, it’s time to plan a trip centered around the Quad Cities. Comprising northwestern regions of Illinois and the southeastern regions of Iowa, the area is sought-after for its abundant natural beauty and range of riverfront activities.

What To See:

Get a lay of the land – or rather, the water – on a cruise of the fourth largest river in the world. A trip in the Celebration Belle passenger boat, which seats 750, provides a narrated tour with a local expert and casual sightseeing.

The Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, is a must-visit artistic hub in western Illinois, hosting traveling exhibitions, art classes, and special events. The nine permanent collection galleries date back to the 15th century, showcasing regional, national, and international pieces.

Appreciate a quality antique? Stop by Antique Archeology in nearby LeClaire. It’s the original store of the History Channel show “American Pickers,” filled with unique vintage finds and memorabilia.

Where To Eat:

Switch up your classic deep dish order with a Quad Cities-style pizza. The region is known for serving up slices cut in long, rectangular strips, with the toppings hiding underneath the cheese. 

Try a savory slice at an establishment like Harris Pizza, which has four Quad Cities locations, or Gunchie’s in Davenport. Then, end the evening with a sweet treat from Whitey’s Ice Cream – its motto is “The Best in the Midwest” for a reason.

Where To Stay:

Plan a cozy overnight stay in Moline – one of the four Quad Cities – for easy access to the region’s biggest attractions. Stoney Creek Hotel Quad Cities – Moline is centrally located in downtown Moline, making it easy to hit the city streets or attend a free event at nearby Bass Street Landing.


Travel Back in Time on a Trip to Galena

Bursting with small-town charm, this Illinois city is ideal for architecture and history buffs. Visitors can marvel at multiple preserved 19th-century buildings like the 1826 Dowling House, shop the quaint boutiques around downtown and nearby villages, and traverse biking and walking trails.

What To See:

Galena’s Main Street is filled with more than 125 shops selling everything from candies and kitchen essentials to specialty treats for furry friends. Spend some time getting to know the local makers on the shopping stretch, which is home to historic buildings from the 1800s and eye-catching Lake Victorian architecture.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Galena without touring the 18th U.S. president’s home and historic site. Managed by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the Ulysses S. Grant Home opened to the public in 1904 and still houses the general’s original furnishings.

Where To Eat:

Galena’s food scene has a restaurant for every type of foodie. Start your morning on the right note with a bite at the Fritz & Frites bistro, try an original lunch recipe (think: a Hawaii Five-O-Burger) from Durty Gurt’s downtown burger joint, and round out the day with dinner at the city’s longest-running food establishment: Log Cabin Steakhouse.

If time allows, squeeze in a trip to Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, your perfect introduction to the area’s vibrant wine scene with tasting experiences and tours.

Where To Stay:

Seeking a hotel that matches the city’s historic charm? Enter Stoney Creek Inn Galena, a rustic getaway with themed suites and a homey, cabin-like atmosphere. The property is just minutes away from cultural points of interest, like Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. and an array of local boutiques and eateries.