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It’s all sunshine and smooth roads this in the Land of Lincoln. Welcome to Illinois – where more than 138,000 miles of public roads aim to please it’s many visitors. Sure, you can take a road trip, or even an invigorating bike ride, but the best way to introduce yourself to the open road of the Prairie State is by motorcycle.
Attention motorcycle enthusiasts, many rider-friendly events occur in the towns and cities of Illinois. Head to Effingham in southern Illinois at the end of the summer and suit up for the August Adventure Ride – an event hosted by the good people at Legacy Harley-Davidson.
August brings the Budweiser Grand Nationals Weekend and the Central Illinois Friends Ride to the town of Morton – a suburb of Peoria found in central Illinois. It’s easy to find a motorcycle rally, benefit, or group ride wherever you go in the Prairie State.
Of course the best part of owning your own iron horse is actually hitting the open road. We want to provide you with a few options for Illinois rides this summer, a few taking you past state parks like Starved Rock State Park and Lowden State Park – both in northern Illinois.
Before starting your adventure through Illinois, keep these tips in mind:
Whether looking for a short ride, or an all day adventure, Best Western hotels have you covered during your many journeys through Illinois this summer.
Riding Through Central and Northern Illinois
Wind your way through the Land of Lincoln this summer on iron horseback.
This 140-mile ride starts in Peoria and takes up to six hours if you're allowing time for lunch and pit stops. The paths stick to historic highways and riverside roadways, making sure you get the best view of the Illinois countryside as ride to Starved Rock State Park, just east of the Best Western hotel in Oglesby. Take Illinois State Route 20 North through cities like Chillicothe, continuing up and around to De Pue. Keep heading east until you reach the Starved Rock State Park – the perfect place to stop for lunch.
Mount back up and pass Buffalo Rock State Park, then turn south on North 2401st Road, also known as Chicago Road and Deer Park Road, until you reach IL-178 South, and get back on North 2101st Road. Then take the IL-251 South to the IL-17 East, and coast into the town of Lacon. Find IL-26 South and ride that down until you wind up back in Peoria.
Head to Peoria in August and catch the Budweiser Grand Nationals Weekend – a celebration of motorcycles if ever there was one. Start off with the Motorcycle Parade for Charity on Saturday morning, then settle in for more fun at the Antique & Custom Bike Show and a Central Illinois Extreme stunt show.
Catch the big event – the Grand National TT Motorcycle Races – and end your day with some great live music, headlined by rock-legend Ted Nugent. Sounds like you won’t want to miss this – all found just a 15-minutes from the Best Western hotel in Morton.
The Ultra Scenic Ride on Illinois State Route 2
For a quick ride through northern Illinois, try the Rock River Run taking you from Dixon to the city of Rockford – south of South Beloit. Just over 40 miles, this route follows Illinois State Route 2 and the Rock River the entire way, granting travelers with superb views of Illinois' countryside. Travel through Prairie State towns like Byron and Oregon – the perfect pit stops for food and shopping – or pull over for a deep breath of fresh air.
Keep an eye for the Black Hawk Statue when passing the Lowden State Park, or maybe pull over for lunch at one of the park’s many picnic areas. Open throughout the year, these areas are equipped with tables, stoves, and restrooms. One more tip, keep watch for some Illinois critters on the road.
Whether traveling to or from this city, feel free to check into the Best Western hotel in Rockford. This is the ideal place to rest before a day of riding, or to stretch out after a long day on the road. No matter what you do, you’ll find a great time this summer in when motorcycle touring in Illinois.
Follow the Shore of Lake Michigan this Summer
If you’ve only got the morning or the afternoon to spare, try this quick ride from Evanston to Lake Bluff in northern Illinois. Hugging the western shore of Lake Michigan, this 22-mile ride follows North Sheridan Road all the way up to the lake.
Stop for lunch – and some summer fun – at Sunrise Park on the shore of Lake Bluff. Open daily until mid-August, Sunrise Beach welcomes swimming and sailing, as well as picnic lunches and strolls along the shore. Lifeguards are on duty from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends – although swimming is not allowed when lifeguards are not available.
Take advantage of the many beach shelters at Sunrise Park, complete with fireplaces and tables, or simply stretch the legs a bit before mounting up and heading back to Evanston.
Once you’re back in town, check out the Best Western hotel in Evanston – just 20 miles north of Chicago – where you can rest up for another day on Illinois’ many roadways. The Land of Lincoln is home to a number of great motorcycle trails, so feel free to blaze down as many as you can this summer in Illinois.