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What to know before you hit the road. 

Karen Ruffini
June 17, 2017

Cross-country road trips typically bring to mind coast-to-coast travels — but there’s more than just one way to travel the country. Interstate 55 is a major south-north route that takes you from Louisiana as far north as Illinois, while crossing through some of the country's biggest cities. Of course, there's more to see along the way than just major metropolises. These are the can't-miss roadside attractions you'll see while driving the entirety of Interstate 55.  

Where to Find Interstate 55

Commonly mistaken for Highway 55, Interstate 55 is a cross-country highway that traverses 964 miles from LaPlace, Louisiana to Chicago, Illinois.

Where to Stop

When you start your road trip on Interstate 55, you'll spend about 66 miles driving north through Louisiana — and of that mileage, some 20 miles will be spent crossing the Manchac Swamp Bridge (the third-longest viaduct in the world).

As you head into Mississippi, you’ll be a near the town of Oxford, home to Rowan Oak. A tour of this home, which belonged to the famed American writer William Faulkner, costs just $5. It gives visitors a glimpse into the life and history of the exceptional Nobel Prize winner.

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While driving through Missouri, park your car and get out in Springfield. Nicknamed the “Land of Lincoln," you’ll be able to visit the final resting place of the 16th president at his eponymous tomb. A 117-foot high granite obelisk pays homage to President Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as the three of their four sons that are buried there. The interior of the memorial contains excerpts from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address, as well as 16 pilasters that are meant to honor Lincoln and the 15 presidents that preceded him. 

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Once you reach Illinois, you’ll likely end up spending most of your time in Chicago. But if you're interested in checking out the state's natural beauty beforehand, stop in Lisle and pass a few hours at the Morton Arboretum.

With nearly 2,000 acres of rolling hills and thick foliage, this public garden was established by the founder of the Morton Salt Company, Joy Morton. His vision for this botanical garden, as well as the Sterling Morton Library (which holds nearly 30,000 volumes of work dedicated mainly to botany and horticulture) is an attraction you won't want to drive by.

Good to Know

Along this thousand-mile long journey, which loosely traces the Mississippi River, you'll find a fluctuating road that switches between a busy thoroughfare and a quiet, rural freeway. Expect traffic to swell and dissipate during your drive.  

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