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  1. Default DC to Chicago post-Xmas

    I am planning a trip from the DC area (specifically northern VA) to the Chicago area (specifically Evanston, which is north of Chicago) after Christmas, weather permitting. I am solo driving and will have 2 young teens (not drivers) with me. We will be spending a few days there before driving back.

    I would love some recommendations for the drive. Mapquest is suggesting 270/70 to 76/Pa Tpk to 80W to 90W. Looks pretty straightforward on the map, but would love to hear about other experiences. Is this a good route, or should I consider others? I'm thinking of spreading it over 2 days, maybe do about 2/3 the first day and the rest the next. Suggestions for a location to overnight? Suggestions for good places to take rest stops? I don't really plan to do any sightseeing, and want to get there in a reasonably efficient manner, but don't want to take a route that has me in blindingly fast truck traffic the whole time either. For the overnight, I am hoping for a not-too-pricey but not-a-complete-dump motel; kids would be happy if it had a pool but we don't need room service or minibar or any such amenities. If it was summer we'd be camping but obviously the weather isn't suitable now. I did this about 25 years ago and stayed in South Bend but maybe that's too far for the first day, I am not sure and honestly do not remember it well.

    I'd be happy to hear any and all feedback! Thank you!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    That is the easiest and fastest way, but there are considerable tolls. Do not take I-90 through Chicago - get off the toll road at Burns Harbor (Exit 21) and take I-80 to I-294. Get off at Dempster St (US-14) and take that east to the 1st light (Potter Rd), turn left, take that to the end and turn right on Golf Rd (IL-58). This will take you into downtown Evanston.

    My mapping program suggests an overnight stop in western OH or eastern IN. South Bend is pushing it a bit. I don't have up to date info, but I show a couple chain hotels at OH exit 13 (Econolodge, Ramada Inn) and a few at IN exit 144 (Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, Super 8) on my 2007 mapping program.

    If you have an EZ-Pass, bring it. It's good on all the toll roads you will be traveling. If you don't have one, I'd recommend you get one.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Time and Money

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    As glc points out, I-70/I-76/I-80 through Pennsylvania and the Midwest are pretty much all Turnpikes. They are also the major artery between the northeast and Chicago. If you are willing to spend a little time rather than pay the cost of the toll roads there are alternatives. The most straightforward one has you adding about 10% (70 miles or so) to your distance but saving nearly all the tolls. That would have you use I-68 west from Hancock, MD to Morgantown, WV and then use I-79 to jog north to I-70 west at Washington, PA. If you wanted an all Interstate route, you would then continue on I-70 to Indianapolis using I-270 around Columbus to the south and I-465 to the northeast around Indianapolis and finish up with I-65 up to the Chicago area. Or, if you don't mind some driving on 4 lane divided (but not limited access) and a few short stretches on two lane highways, you can strike out more directly from Columbus on US-33 north and use OH-117/OH-309 to connect from Huntsville through Lima to US-30 at Delphos and take that the rest of the way to Chicago. If you use the all Interstate route through Indianapolis, then a reasonable place to spend the night would be in the Dayton, OH/Richmond, IN area, whereas if you used the 'Columbus cutoff' then Lima, OH should offer a choice of lodgings.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Washington DC Suburbs


    Chicago is very doable from Northern Virginia in one or two days, as the others mentioned, the route you've picked is the best way to get there. I used to drive from Northern Virginia to Chicago weekly and no way I chose was better. I would recommend, however, rather than going down to the beltway and going out 270 just heading up 15 from Leesburg to Frederick. It's a scenic trip and takes just about the same amount of time...not to mention avoids all of the beltway construction that's happening right now.

    The thing you need to remember around Pittsburg is they're re-building all of the way stations on the Turnpike right now, so some that show up are currently closed. When I did the trip all the time I usually stopped at the first one in Ohio...skipping all of the ones in Pennsylvania because the older ones have gotten quite a bit run down. The new ones are VERY nice. It's been awhile since I've made the trip to Chicago, but once you get into Indiana places to stop get a bit limited. I'd recommend stopping around Toledo if you want to do an overnight.

    Depending on when you leave, you also have to remember that nothing opens on the Turnpike (or even Breezewood, PA) until after 9:00 AM. The last time I drove through that section was in October on my way to Toronto. I left my house in Sterling at 4:00 AM, assuming I could find food on the road. The first food I found wasn't until nearly Pittsburgh...three hours later. Also, don't rely on radio stations. There is not much radio selection from the time you leave Maryland until you get close to Pittsburgh. At some points along the drive, my radio tuner couldn't find a single station.

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