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  1. Default Advice required for summer 2016 road trip from and back to Chicago

    I've booked flights to Chicago for late June next year. We have 16 nights and I have a very vague idea of what we should do.

    I would like 3 or 4 nights in Chicago as we've never been. What do people think? How long to see the key sites?

    I was then thinking of driving to Denver via Mount Rushmore and then driving back to Chicago via St Louis.

    Apart from Mount Rushmore I am happy to vary any part of the plan.

    I would expect to do overnight stays en route to Mount Rushmore and would like ideas of where to stay. We like to stay in good places and quality is more important to us than cost.

    Any assistance and ideas would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Welcome to RTA!

    First question: do you have good paper maps or a road atlas, yet? If not, that should be your first order of business. You can order a road atlas from the RTA store (just scroll down for the link) and it should be there within a few weeks. The paper map will help you plan more than any electronic mapping program, as so many things of interest are listed.

    Another place to look for what interests you, is the RTA Map Center. Regular contributors have posted their favorite places. Once again, scroll down and find Road Trip Attractions. Otherwise, we'll just throw out ideas and probably half of them won't be your idea of fun because we all have our own tastes.

    Having lived in the Chicago suburbs, I can tell you that there's a LOT to see and do in Chicago. With 3 or 4 days, you might want to pick and choose. Brookfield Zoo, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry, Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum, Lakeshore Drive -- it will depend on what interests YOU.

    As far as overnight stays, we recommend anywhere from 400-600 miles per day driving, less if you want to stop and see something for a couple of hours along the way.

    Mount Rushmore isn't the only thing to see in the Black Hills of South Dakota, btw. There's always Custer State Park's Wildlife Loop and Needles Scenic Drive, Badlands National Park is about an hour away, Wind Cave and Jewel Cave aren't far from Rushmore, and Devil's Tower National Monument (think CLOSE ENCOUNTERS movie) is about an hour to the northwest.


    Donna

  3. Default Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Welcome to RTA!

    First question: do you have good paper maps or a road atlas, yet? If not, that should be your first order of business. You can order a road atlas from the RTA store (just scroll down for the link) and it should be there within a few weeks. The paper map will help you plan more than any electronic mapping program, as so many things of interest are listed.

    Another place to look for what interests you, is the RTA Map Center. Regular contributors have posted their favorite places. Once again, scroll down and find Road Trip Attractions. Otherwise, we'll just throw out ideas and probably half of them won't be your idea of fun because we all have our own tastes.

    Having lived in the Chicago suburbs, I can tell you that there's a LOT to see and do in Chicago. With 3 or 4 days, you might want to pick and choose. Brookfield Zoo, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science and Industry, Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum, Lakeshore Drive -- it will depend on what interests YOU.

    As far as overnight stays, we recommend anywhere from 400-600 miles per day driving, less if you want to stop and see something for a couple of hours along the way.

    Mount Rushmore isn't the only thing to see in the Black Hills of South Dakota, btw. There's always Custer State Park's Wildlife Loop and Needles Scenic Drive, Badlands National Park is about an hour away, Wind Cave and Jewel Cave aren't far from Rushmore, and Devil's Tower National Monument (think CLOSE ENCOUNTERS movie) is about an hour to the northwest.


    Donna
    Thanks Donna.

    That's really helpful. From your advice I think we'll start with 4 days in Chicago. I also think we'll plan on 2 or 3 days around the Black Hills so we can do Badlands etc.

    Has anyone got any thoughts on Denver and St Louis and also where are good places to stay.

    Thanks

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    St Louis is another place with a lot of things to see and do. Those that come to mind immediately are the Arch (though the museum under it is under construction, and you *must* have advance reservations to take the tram up to the top of the Arch during the construction period), and the old Courthouse. There's Grant's Farm, and the Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tours (don't laugh, but you'll get "carded" when you go to that site; you didn't say if you were traveling with kids, as they cannot go on the tour). If you happen to be a music buff and love old ragtime music, Scott Joplin's house may interest you. (It's on my bucket list of St Louis things that I have left to see.)

    On the way between Kansas City and St Louis, along I-70, there's Graham Cave State Park. If you're a bit warm along the trip, the cave is a nice way to cool off. Also down near Hermann, there are several wineries with nice tours. Kids are not kept from going on the tour, only doing the tastings. (Some of the wineries have grape juice for kids to taste.)

    If you DO have kids along on the trip, between Denver and STL is Burlington CO. Stop at the Kit Carson Park there, as it has an old-fashioned carousel.

    As for where to stay, there are many great places to stay in the cities as well as along the interstate highways at the exits. In STL, look at your map. Stay in O'Fallon, St Peters, St Charles, or on the Illinois City in Granite City. Stay far, far away from Ferguson and Berkeley and away from the area around the Arch.


    Donna

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

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    You haven't really told us anything about your interests but you do seem more focused on City life when there are so many natural wonders, one example being Rocky mountain NP near Denver. From the Black hills you could continue to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons which are both amazing places and Yellowstone is quite unique. Have you looked at a good map and studied what is along the way and nearby ? It will help you a lot with your planning and we will be here to answer any questions.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default If it matches your interests.

    While in Denver go visit the R.E.I. flagship store downtown. Get someone to take you through the store and explain how and why they converted an old transport depot into this modern store.

    Lifey

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