Enjoy state parks, memorable meals and history on a drive along the Illinois River Road.

The Illinois River Road runs 150 miles from Ottawa, Illinois, to Havana, passing near Starved Rock State Park and traveling through Peoria. Here are a few highlights of the trip; for more information and maps, see illinoisriverroad.org.

What to do

Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge

The largest of three National Wildlife Refuges within the Illinois River National Wildlife and Fish Refuges Complex (the others are the Emiquon and Meredosia), Chautauqua attracts more than 100,000 fall birds. 

Washington Square Park
Washington Square Park
| Credit: Jason Lindsey

Ottawa attractions

At the northern gateway to the Illinois River Road, see murals depicting local history, check out a spectacular lift-style railroad bridge, and wander through Washington Square Park, where statues of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas recall their first senatorial debate, held at the park in 1858. Active adventures await nearby at Buffalo Rock State Park, Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park and the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Read more about Ottawa.

Peoria Heights

North of Peoria, detour from the Illinois River Road byway to pretty Grand View Drive. Restaurants and shops include Leaves 'n Beans and I Know You Like a Book.

Peoria Riverfront

You'll find plenty of places to eat, plus festivals, a marina and the Peoria Riverfront Museum

Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park
| Credit: Ginger Crichton

Starved Rock State Park

Views of the Illinois River unfold from bluffs in Starved Rock State Park. Hikes hit all of the highlights.