OK, so there are a lot of by-the-roadside things I wanted to mention, but they don’t fit as a destination or review type blog post. So I’m going to try a different idea, and talk about a day trip of interesting things — like the drive from Green Bay to Chicago (or vice versa), which isn’t all that far but makes for a good outing if you like to drive, like we do.
There are essentially two ways you can approach the drive, depending on what schedule you’re on and what your traveling preferences are. There’s the traditional, quick-and-dirty route of U.S. 41 (Route 41 for you old-time road trippers), which has the advantage of being a freeway, and all the conveniences that entails. However, be prepared to pay some tolls right around Chicago if you’re going in or out of the city on the freeways.
There’s one stop, newly renovated and more fantastically touristy than ever, that you don’t want to miss on this route, and it’s the Mars Cheese Castle near Kenosha, between Chicago and Milwaukee. It’s been welcoming visitors to Wisconsin for decades, and it’s got a shiny new exterior with all the castle-y things like crenellations and battlements (love those words!). If you want to make a whole castle theme out of it, there’s also a White Castle in Kenosha which has always treated us right.
We often take the U.S. 41 route, especially if we can time it to hit the wee small hours of morning when you don’t have to worry about traffic, cause it’s just plain faster a lot of the time. High-traffic hours are obviously an exception to this around Chicago.
But, if you’re driving during the day, and prefer lower speed limits and more scenic countryside, do what we did on our most recent trip and take the back way, through Lake County, Illinois. Not too far outside the Chicago suburbs, it suddenly turns all bucolic and pastoral and very lovely. In the right season, you’ll find roadside produce stands or homemade crafts for sale, and in any season, plenty of small towns to fuel up the car and stop for a bite to eat. There are plenty of historic sites to see around there, too.
You can hop back on the highways up around Pleasant Prairie, especially if you have kids in the car — because it’s home to the Jelly Belly Factory, which offers free factory tours, free candy, and a serious gift shop. We didn’t go this time, because we’ve been in the past, but if you haven’t, it’ll soon become a family favorite.
Which way do you like to drive? Or is there another route we missed?