Road Trips

The Back Roads Were Made for Road Trips

Whether by automobile, motorcycle, or bicycle, you’ll rediscover rural America in Henry County, Illinois. Experience our rich agricultural vista that stretches for miles. Roads are more than just pavement; they connect you with local people and the stories they tell about a simpler way of life. Whether you were born to be wild or just want to see wild flowers, we’ve got the genuine country experiences you’ll enjoy.

Looking for adventure?

You’ve heard of Route 66, but have you checked out U.S. Route 6? We like to say it has half the digits, twice the kicks. Once known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway, it is the second-longest continuous highway in the United States, and it runs straight through the land of rural splendor. It all adds up to a good excuse for a road trip. In Annawan, refresh yourself at Mick’s Place, have a sweet scoop of homemade ice cream at Paxton’s Corner Coop, and pick up a rural treasure at Mimi’s Treasures. Make time and room for a piece of pie like Grandma made (or wished she could) at the Purple Onion. In Atkinson, Lisa’s Place is the place to have some pastry or satisfy your curiosity by ordering their specialty, “The Nest.” No, we won’t tell you what that is — it’s a surprise. Just off Route 6, see the small town charm at the Old Mill Gardens. Before you leave Atkinson, have a bite at the Barn and some liquid refreshments at The Corner Tap. Next stop on Route 6 is Geneseo, where you’ll pass (but don’t pass up!) C&S Antique Mall. Stretch your legs and check out the beautiful landscaping at Geneseo City Park. Are you a true nature’s child? From Route 6, take 84 North into the recreational paradise known as Colona.

Get your motor running.

Did you know that Illinois Routes 81 and 82 are the only two county highways in northwest Illinois that stop and start in the same county? If you’re looking for a day of rural Americana, this is it. To access 81, start in Lynn Center, moving through Andover and Cambridge, then arriving in Kewanee. While you’re on this route, you’ll want to check out the historic Henry County Courthouse in Cambridge. Did you know that Henry County was named for Patrick Henry? It is — we take our patriotism seriously here in the heartland. Spend the night at the Timber Campground and wake up to hit the too-many-to-mention attractions of all kinds in Kewanee.

For another nice little road trip, take Route 82 through Henry County. You’ll pass through Geneseo, Cambridge and Nekoma. Geneseo‘s historic art and shopping district is home to abundant arts and crafts and lots of cultural and outdoor attractions. Plus, check online to see if any of Geneseo’s many community events will be taking place during your road trip. Consider timing your road trip to coincide with one of them.

It’s just a short, picturesque jog to get from Geneseo to Bishop Hill, most of it on Route 82. Bishop Hill is a major cultural and historic site that highlights its legacy as a Swedish utopian community dating back to 1846. Museums, specialty shops, and restaurants are all within walking distance, so you can ditch your wheels for a bit and enjoy the small town on foot. From Bishop Hill to Atkinson is another short hop, allowing you to hit all the Bishop Hill attractions, then all the Atkinson attractions. These include Lisa’s Place, The Barn, The Corner Tap, and Old Mill Gardens.

Head out on that highway.

County Highway 5 is a great route to tie in Hennepin Canal to Bishop Hill, but bikers beware: it has narrow shoulders and gravel. Its path runs through Atkinson and Galva, intersecting U.S. Route 6, Interstate 80, County Highway 14, Illinois State Route 81 near Cambridge, and County Highway 4 near Kewanee.

Looking for adventure?

The Adventure Cyclist Association – Northern Tier Bike Trail meanders through Orion, Cambridge and Kewanee.  Attractions: Cerno’s Bar & Grill and PL Damron’s Bakery Café.

Biking enthusiasts who wish to take the train from Chicago, Quincy, Macomb, Galesburg, or elsewhere will want to know that Amtrak charges $10 to bring your bike, and reservations are required. Here are a few of the possibilities:

  • Chicago No. 381: Depart 7:35 a.m., arrive in Kewanee at 9:44 a.m. Return to Chicago on the No. 382 at 7:27 p.m., arriving home at 9:58 p.m.
  • Quincy No. 380: Depart 6:12 a.m., arrive in Macomb at 7 a.m., Galesburg at 7:38 a.m. and Kewanee at 8:09 a.m. Return on the No. 383 in Kewanee, arriving in Galesburg at 8:42 p.m., Macomb at 11:04 p.m. and Quincy at 12:03 a.m.

The Hennepin Canal/American Discovery Trail runs through Colona, Geneseo, Atkinson and Annawan. Running nearby is U.S. Highway Route 6. Although it’s a popular roadway for bicyclists, be aware of the small shoulders, gravel, and heavy traffic. Attractions to look for are Geneseo’s historic State Street, and in Annawan, don’t miss Paxton’s Corner Coop and Mick’s Place.

Some favorite destinations for bicyclists include Ryan’s Round Barn and the many attractions of Bishop Hill. By the way, if you need biking equipment or service while you’re here, check out B & B Lawn Equipment & Cycle in Geneseo.

Get ready for whatever comes your way.

Bishop Hill is a popular destination for motorcyclists to have Sunday breakfast and then venture off to other destinations.

For very pretty countryside year-round, consider Highway 150 from Orion to Woodhull.

The back roads are beckoning you to Henry County, Illinois. If you want to learn more about what there is to do in Henry County, visit visithenrycounty.com to search our calendar of events and decide which back roads you want to take first.