As it cuts through the southern part of Central Illinois, I-70 parallels the Historic National Road (now US-40) that opened the state to settlement in the 1800s. Get a taste of history, theater and outdoor rec as you travel through this area.

By Gary Thompson
February 06, 2020

What to Do

The I-70 corridor in central Illinois includes Marshall, where a restored log cabin houses the Marshall Visitors Center.

Just south of Marshall, Lincoln Trail State Park offers boating, camping, fishing and hiking on 1,023 acres. The area is named after the trail Abraham Lincoln's family followed from Indiana to Illinois in 1831.

In Greenup, the Jackson Truss Covered Bridge (a vintage-look replica) spans the Embarras River. Other area attractions include Cameo Vineyards and Greenup Depot.

Effingham, near the junction of I-70 and I-57, straddled two major rail lines for decades. Today, the historic passenger line City of New Orleans still passes through town daily. Peek at a 1963 Chevy Corvette Z06 and other rare cars at My Garage Museum, and snap a photo in front of a 1910 gas station that was restored on-site.

My Garage Museum
| Credit: Ed Baumgarten

Catch a big-time musical like Mamma Mia! at The Little Theatre On The Square in Sullivan, which has been bringing Broadway to Central Illinois for 60 years.

The Little Theatre on the Square
| Credit: Courtesy of The Little Theatre on the Square

Vandalia, on the Kaskaskia River, served as capital of Illinois from 1820 to 1839. Lincoln began his political career at the Vandalia State House, the oldest Illinois capitol building still standing (There have been six.) Guided or self-guided tours are available.

Vandalia State House
| Credit: Paul Nordmann

Watch flames shoot out from the giant Kaskaskia Dragon. Just insert a token (sold at local businesses) to watch the metal monster unleash its fury.

Kaskasia Dragon
| Credit: Paul Nordmann

Where to Eat

Even with GPS, it’s hard to find the Moonshine Store near Martinsville, but a Moonburger is worth the effort. The grill closes at 12:30 p.m. sharp.

Moonshine Store
| Credit: Jason Lindsey

Fill up on craft beer and a Flaming Goat Burger, Drunkin Pig sandwich or Effin’ Tasty Steak Bites at Gabby Goat American Pub and Grill in Effingham.

Enjoy the signature flowerpot bread at the Gallatin Street Grille in Vandalia. Save room for salted caramel cream pie.

Sample Embarras Blush (named for the nearby river) or National Road Red at Cameo Vineyards in Greenup. They crush 35 tons of Illinois grapes yearly.

Cameo Vineyards
| Credit: Courtesy of Cameo Vineyards

Where to Stay

For an outdoor-oriented stay, rent a close-to-water cabin at Anthony Acres Resort in Effingham, where the focus is on relaxation on Lake Sara.