Do an Illinois state park crawl on U.S. Highway 6 through Central Illinois this Memorial Day. A favorite pastime in Chicago is a bar crawl where a group of people stop in for a drink or three at a series of bars in a certain neighborhood. Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park, the Loop, Lincoln Square, Old Town are all areas in Chicago with a high concentration of bars making a bar crawl a fun way to spend a Saturday with a group of people.
This Memorial Day instead of bar crawl, go state park hopping along U.S. Highway 6 between Utica and Joliet. Take I-55 south out of Chicago to I-80 and go West along I-80 to exit number 81 and drive south on Illinois State Route 178. This road drives past the entrances of both Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park.
Buffalo Rock State Park, Illini State Park, Gebhard Woods State Park, William G. Stratton State Park, Heidecke State Fish and Wildlife Area, Goose Lake Prairie State Park are all found within 5 miles of this highway along this 70-mile corridor along the Illinois River. As a dessert to the state park crawl, there is Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie just a few miles south off of I-55 if more outdoor activity is needed.
Spend a day or two in these parks and then drive back north on Illinois 178 and pick up U.S. Highway 6 and drive back towards Chicago. Instead of driving straight back on I-80 stop at some of the Illinois state parks on the way home. The high concentration of parks along this stretch makes for a perfect state park crawl.
For the real adventurous travelers this segment can be crossed by bike on the I&M Canal State Trail. Leave the car at one of the state parks along the way and then do a state park crawl on a bike.
Each park has a unique feature or activity and is worth a stop. Whether it is the deep woods and waterfalls of Matthiessen, the canyons and bald eagles at Starved Rock, the scenic overlook at Buffalo Rock, or the Kayakmorris boat and bike rental at William G. Stratton there is an adventure for you and your family this Memorial Day with an Illinois state park crawl.
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