What Is The Byway?
Every community along the Illinois River has a story to share with visitors.
For some, it's a tale is built around historical landmarks, a museum, or an intriguing nature preserve. For others, it might be filled with quaint shops and other attractions.
The Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway, formed in 2005, weaves narratives like these together into a cohesive experience, implementing a regional promotion program for a nearly 300-mile stretch that includes both sides of the river. This collaboration of communities – from Ottawa in the north to Havana in the south – positions communities to be explored in depth. From historical and educational waypoints to picturesque natural and recreational attractions along the way, the Illinois River Road is a journey that as a whole, is greater than the sum of its parts.
Byway travelers look to avoid the main thoroughfares and get off the beaten path by traveling local roads and exploring unique communities along the way. Locally-owned and operated shops, restaurants, lodging facilities and area attractions are a byway traveler’s delight.
From motorcyclists taking in scenic summertime views and couples enjoying a peaceful weekend getaway, to birdwatchers coming to glimpse Bald Eagles along the river, or families just enjoying an experiential weekend in the Illinois River Valley – these visitors are looking for places to shop, eat and stay as well as other things to do that are unique or authentic to the Illinois River Road region.
You can learn more about how the Illinois River Road was formed and the efforts that have been made to promote it here.