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See Legendary Roadside Attractions in Illinois
Learn about local history and legends by visiting some of the roadside attractions around Illinois. Taking a road trip through Southern Illinois or northern Illinois is one of the best ways to see some of the country’s most interesting roadside attractions and make a quick pit stop for a photo or two.
From King Tut’s tomb to the Route 66 murals, you can learn about the area’s rich history and enjoy some local landmarks. Southern Illinois is home to roadside attractions like the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle. Ion Chicago, you can head to Roosevelt Road to see the multi-track train routes that run from Metra’s Rock Island District to Burlington Santa Fe. Don’t miss the chance to see the Superman Statue in the city of Metropolis along the way.
Caterpillar Visitors Center
Open Monday through Saturday, the Caterpillar Visitors Center is located in central Illinois in downtown East Peoria. Found along Interstate 74 and the Illinois River, the center features self-guided tours. Make your travel plans for central IL and the surrounding Peoria area, and use the Caterpillar Visitors Center as your hub for information on local must-sees.
Visitors of the Caterpillar Visitors Center explore exhibits like Yellow Blood Bleeds Gold, Cat 797F Mining Truck, and the Caterpillar Heritage Gallery. Souvenirs are found at the onsite Cat Merchandise Center. While the Caterpillar Visitors Center is closed on Sundays, you'll find a wide range of tour dates and times throughout the rest of the week.
Chester Bridge over the Mississippi River
The Chester Bridge spans 2,826 feet over the Mississippi River and connects Illinois Route 150 with Missouri's Route 51. The bridge first opened in 1942 as a toll bridge - with the tolls removed in 1989. The bridge averages more than 5,500 passengers daily. Visitors of the bridge will recognize it from the beginning of the 1967 film, In the Heat of the Night.
While in Chester, be sure to visit Elzie C. Segar Memorial Park and have your picture taken with the bronze statue of Popeye, the famous cartoon character. Make yourself at home at the Best Western in Popeye's home town of Chester, in Southern Illinois.
Chicago Water Tower
The Lake Michigan shoreline in northern Illinois, is home to the Windy City of Chicago. Whether flying into Chicago O'Hare International Airport or Chicago Midway International Airport, arrive in Chicago ready to enjoy a theater production, eat delicious food, shop and see the city landmarks. Make your way to downtown's Michigan Avenue, to view the historical Chicago Water Tower.
This 154-foot limestone tower, built in 1869, housed a 138-foot standpipe for holding water used for firefighting. It worked in conjunction with the Chicago Avenue Pumping Station, to pump fresh water from Lake Michigan for the city's use.
This beautiful city landmark resembling a castle, is one of a few historical buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. In 1969, it was designated the first American Water Landmark. While on the Magnificent Mile in the city's Near North Side community, stop by the visitor information center in the tower to learn more about its rich history. While there, spend a few minutes browsing the photographs in the City Gallery, housed in the tower.
Known as Illinois' other Magnificent Mile, Galena Downtown is set in northern Illinois in – you guessed it – Galena. Also known as Galena Main Street and Old Galena Historic District, this picturesque strip features boutiques, restaurants, galleries, and historic sites.
Historic structures include Dowling House, Galena Post Office, Galena Public Library, and the Old Blacksmith Shop. For a downtown Galena museum, try the Old Market House State Historic Site, Galena History Museum, and Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site.
Moser Tower & Millennium Carillon
An icon of the city, the Moser Tower and Millennium Carillon is located in Naperville in the western region of the Chicago metropolitan area. Construction began in 1998 by Naperville residents; the Moser Tower features a time capsule and views of Naperville.
Open to the public on weekends from May to November, the Moser Tower is light occasionally for Halloween, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Veterans Day. Tours are available, as well as Carilloneur bell recitals – held Saturdays at noon and 7 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m.
Featuring chivalry, rivalry, and revelry, the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in the Chicago metropolitan area is better known as the Chicago Castle or Schaumburg Castle. The castle is located in Schaumburg, just northwest from downtown Chicago. It's an easy drive west from Glenview.
The Chicago Castle serves guests a four-course meal while presenting themed shows like falcon and horse shows, plus the anticipated jousting competition. Schaumburg Castle is located at the intersection of Roselle Road and Interstate 90.
Train-Watching on Roosevelt Road
You're likely to see upwards of 500 freight trains passing through Chicago and nearby suburbs on any given day. Because of this, and a rich history tied, in many ways, to the freight and passenger car industry, is often referred to as the "railroad capital."
Make your way into the Chicago area, and prepare for a day of train-watching. Some call it trainspotting, but no matter – you'll find a full days worth on Roosevelt Road. Easily accessed from nearby Hillside, Roosevelt Road stretches east to west as a straight shot into downtown Chicago, and is one of the premier roadside attractions in the state.
Enjoy a stroll along the Roosevelt Road Bridge, which has plenty of sidewalk room – this yields some of the most exceptional views of both the downtown Chicago skyline, and the many trains which move, seemingly, non-stop.
Formerly Sears Tower, Willis Tower stands at an impressive 1,451 feet – offering incredible views of the Chicagoland area. From 1973 to 1998, it was the tallest building in the world – and at 108 stories, it remains the tallest building in America. Located on the Chicago Loop in downtown Chitown, Willis Tower was the headquarters for Sears, Roebuck & Co. from 1973 until 1992.
Today, visitors enjoy a quick, 60-second ride to the 103rd floor for an incredible view of the city from the 1,353-foot-high Skydeck. Each year, more than one million tourists visit the Skydeck. Test your fear of heights in one of the glass-bottom skyboxes – allowing visitors to look through the floor to the city below.
World's Largest Railsplitter Covered Wagon
The World's Largest Railsplitter Covered Wagon, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is located along Route 66 at the Best Western Lincoln Inn in Lincoln. Travelers in central Illinois can't miss this "#1 Roadside Attraction in America", named by Reader's Digest magazine. The wagon measures 40 feet long, 12 feet wide and 24 feet tall. A 12 foot -statue of Abraham Lincoln sits on the seat, reading a book.
The town was named in 1853 when Abraham Lincoln helped plat the town, before he became President of the United States. Additional note-worthy area Lincoln attractions include, the Heritage in Flight Museum, the Lincoln College Museum and the Lincoln Speedway.