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a scenic route from Chicago to Madison?

Madison, Wisconsin
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a scenic route from Chicago to Madison?

My wife and I will be driving interstates to visit our daughter in Madison (WI). On the last day we have a lot of time and figure maybe to leave the Interstate at/near Chicago and take a more scenic and slower drive from the Chicago area to Madison. Can anyone suggest a scenic route for that stretch of our drive? Thanks!

Milwaukee
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1. Re: a scenic route from Chicago to Madison?

You could look into driving Hwy 12, which was the main route, pre interstate. I hesitate to recommend this route because I don't know enough about the stretch thru Illinois to the Wisconsin line. I do not believe it is limited access, so I am thinking, but not sure, that you would run into lots of stop and go traffic and congestion. You might get more input about that on the Chicago forum, if no one on the Wisconsin forum can help.

From the Wisconsin line to Madison, Hwy 12 is freeway for part of the way and would provide a scenic, but relatively easy route.

Another option is to take the Tollway, I-90 to Beloit, Wis and head west from there. You could take Hwy 213 north to Madison and that would be a nice, scenic route. The town of Evansville is a historic town on that route.

If you are willing to take a little further detour you could take Hwy 81 west out of Beloit to Monroe, which some call the cheese capital of the world, then take Hwy 69 north to Madison. That would be a very nice route and you would go thru New Glarus, which is another nice tourist area.

Edited: 03 July 2011, 21:16
New York City, New...
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2. Re: a scenic route from Chicago to Madison?

I used to live in Chicago and drive out to Rockford. Have you been to the midwest? Chicago is pretty much suburbia until you get out of Cook County. Since you're coming from Philadelphia, and if you want to see the the real flat Illinois, you could head out I80 past Joliet and then head north toward Rockford. What you'll see is pretty much flat farmland. For those of us from the midwest it doesn't feel scenic. But I always remember what a business colleague from northern New Jersey said when she arrived in Lafayette Indiana after driving up from Indianapolis. She was totally struck by the wide open countryside and how big the sky was. That's what you'll see in Illinois West of Chicago.

Alternatively, you take i90 west to Route 47 and take it north to Woodstock where you can pick up Route 14 north. If you want to, Woodstock has nice town square with good restaurants, but check the Chicago area forum to confirm as it's been a while since I've been there. Take Rt. 14 northwest toward Janesville. It joins Route 11.

You can either stay on 14 north toward Madison. Or if you have a lot of time, you can take 11 further west and either head north at Brodhead or go all the way over to Monroe. From either place take the County roads north toward New Glarus, which would be another place to stop. It's a town that was founded by the Swiss and has some attractions. BTW the countryside once you're west of I90 changes and becomes quite scenic.

Once you're in New Glarus you can head north through Paoli and the other small towns to Madison. Take a look at Google Maps and you'll be able to see what I'm suggesting. If you do take in the flats lands west of Chicago, you can pick up the rest of the route either in Janesville or head west on 81 from Beloit. And if you're running late you could take the interstate north to Janesville and just do the scenic bits south of Madison.

Pam

Chicago
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3. Re: a scenic route from Chicago to Madison?

You've received some very good alternatives for places to see around Madison. The most direct route is Hwy 12 as mentioned in the first reply. If you pick up 12 in Des Plaines, IL, you'll have about 3 hrs of driving. With road construction on both I-94 around Milwaukee and I-90 west of Chicago to Rockford, you might actually save time this way.

WI
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4. Re: a scenic route from Chicago to Madison?

a route through scenic New Glarus, Mount Horeb and Monroe is great and well worth it, it's a favorite area for us we recently discovered.

Huntley, IL
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5. Re: a scenic route from Chicago to Madison?

Love New Glaris and Mount Horab and Monroe. They are all charming towns with a lot of personality. I highly recommend gong to these 3 towns.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: a scenic route from Chicago to Madison?

You can include Mt. Horeb in the routes I suggested by just adding it on after New Glarus. The town is a few miles west of Madison. If you run out of time on the way up, you could do a little side trip out to the Troll Way from Madison. It used to be the home of the Mustard Museum, but be aware that the Mustard Museum is now in Middleton, WI, which is the town immediately west of Madison.

Pam

7. Re: a scenic route from Chicago to Madison?

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