4 Days | 320 Miles | in 4-5 Days
In the "Middle of Everything," where the Mississippi River converges with beautiful landscapes and charming riverfront towns lies the Great River Road. This historic route is a dream trip for eco-friendly travelers with charging stations strategically positioned along the route help provide a convenient and reliable charging network for electric vehicle (EV) drivers as they navigate this beloved, historic road. Plus, this byway's harmonious blend of vibrant communities and picturesque scenic backdrops will create an electrifying journey like no other.
Discover the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Illinois and keep your carbon footprint in check with this low-impact road trip itinerary.
Your first day will start in Galena, one of the most romantic small towns in the nation. Start the day off at Galena City Hall, where you’ll find plenty of charging stations to top your vehicle off. From there, head to Galena Trolley Tour to witness beautiful views and discover fascinating insights into this charming town. Plus, the trolley tour includes admission to the US Grant Home, Belvedere Mansion and the Dowling House – to maximize the fun for the history buffs among you.
Next, explore Galena’s Main Street, which boasts 19th century history and a half mile of more than 125 independently owned shops and restaurants. From candy to ice cream to spas and wine tastings, there’s something for everyone in the heart of Galena’s shopping district. Be sure to visit the River Bend Gallery where professional artist, Geoffrey Mikol, displays stunning photographs that brilliantly capture the natural surroundings of Galena.
Of course, all that walking is going to enhance your appetite. Enjoy a real taste of Galena at one of its many amazing downtown restaurants such as the Log Cabin Steakhouse, which is known for its Porterhouse, New York Strip, and Prime Rib. Or, perhaps, if you’re in the mood for a rustic Italian dish with a new world flare, check out Fried Green Tomatoes.
Once you’ve had your fill, head out of downtown and rent an electric bike at Nuts Outdoors. Ride through the scenic country backroads of the award-winning Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery. The vineyard is teeming with exciting opportunities for every interest. Either try your swing at one of its championship golf courses or kick it on the veranda and enjoy a glass of wine - the options are endless.
From there, minutes from downtown lies the Galena River Trail. Take a scenic walk along the Galena River and its scenic rock trails, which are perfect for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and more.
If in the mood for a drink, make your way to Galena Brewing Company – a local grassroots craft brewery. Grab an ale from one of their six brew styles or a seasonal special while indulging in some delicious finger foods and appetizers. Or, make a reservation at Vinny Vanucchi’s for made-from-scratch, authentic Italian dishes that feature recipes handed down from five generations.
Before turning in, why not take in a show? At the P.T. Murphy Magic Show you can enjoy the mysteriousness of an ancient art as it unfolds right before your very eyes.
Of course, it’s good to know that while you’re recharging, so is your vehicle. That’s why a great option to rest up for the night is the historic Jail Hill Inn, which has charging stations available for those traveling by battery. Or, if you want to stay in the countryside for the night, head to Chestnut Mountain Resort, just minutes from downtown, which resides on a wooded palisade and overlooks the Majestic Mississippi River. And yes, they have charging stations available there too, so you can be fully charged up to head to your next stop tomorrow.
It’s time to say goodbye to one of the most romantic towns in Illinois and start your journey down the Great River Road. Just make sure to stop by Victory Café for coffee and breakfast while your car can stay charged at the Galena Brewing Company, which is right next door. Your journey continues in Moline, which is about 90 miles or 1.5 hours from Galena.
Between Galena and Moline, Savanna is a worthy pitstop. We wouldn’t recommend missing out on a visit to the Mississippi Palisades State Park. This beautiful scenic park offers 2,500 acres of hiking, rock climbing, and camping. Plus, its steep cliffs and unique rock formations make it a great place to park, even just for some snaps of the view.
As you make your way down, cruising alongside the river, you’ll drive through Fulton and an authentic Dutch windmill known as the De Immigrant Windmill. Manufactured in the Netherlands, the windmill sits right on the banks of the river and is a must-stop for road trippers. Stop by the Windmill Cultural Center, tour its collection of 22 miniature European windmills, and grab fresh stone-ground flour that you can only purchase in Fulton.
Before hitting Moline, you’ll discover that Route 66 is not the only historic road that boasts larger-than-life statues. Oddities and roadside attractions can be found along the Great River Road including the Will B. Rolling statue in Port Byron. This 30-foot man riding an old-timey bicycle can be spotted from the road as you drive into Moline.
So many attractions, restaurants, and more have made Moline a beloved town of Rock Island County. Drive into the Sexton Ford Dealership where you can let your EV charge up. In the meantime, take a five-minute stroll into Moline Centre. From there, the opportunities are endless. There’s an array of antique shops, delicious restaurants, and more.
Make a stop at Whitey’s Ice Cream for a quick snack. With dozens of outstanding flavors to choose from, there’s something for everyone.
As you navigate downtown Moline, you’ll notice the streets lined with adorable and kitschy shops that make the town so delightfully eccentric and fun. A five-minute walk from Whitey’s is Dot’s Pots, where you’ll find handcrafted pottery of various shapes and sizes and can witness their creation in gas and electric kilns.
Visiting Moline is not complete without a stop at the John Deere Pavilion and John Deere Store. A quick four-minute walk from downtown lands you at this one-of-a-kind retail center that stocks all things John Deere including clothing, toys, novelties, etc., while providing an engaging experience for the whole family. Plus, you can explore technology exhibits that showcase how technology helps shape society while caring for the land.
From there, take advantage of their Channel Cat Water Taxi, a leisurely way to enjoy the Mississippi River while offering several landing opportunities for your convenience.
Take the John Deere Commons exit and grab lunch at Lagomarcino’s where you can also satisfy your sweet tooth with their out-of-this-world hot fudge sundaes. Or, if you're looking for a quick bite you can try Quad Cities-style pizza.
A mile up the road lies the Deere-Wiman House & Butterworth Center. Continue your educational tour of the John Deere legacy and take a tour inside and outside these two beautiful mansions that were once home to four generations of the Deere family.
By now, a drink might be in order. Delicious microbrews, including stouts and IPAs are served up at the Bent River Brewing Company. The turn-of-the-century building in downtown offers a bevy of different beverages for even the most discerning beer snob in your company. Or if you want to get a taste of Oktoberfest any time of the year, The Bier Stube is an authentic German bar with an outstanding selection of over 37 draft beer lines and a 2,500 ft. Bier Garden.
Afterwards, the late afternoon serves as the prime time to catch a Celebration River Cruise. One of Moline’s beloved attractions, the “Celebration Belle” is a perfect way for visitors to catch picturesque views of the mighty Mississippi River as you cruise its various waterways. Afterward, head up to Ben Butterworth Parkway, which is a three-minute walk from the river cruise and offers 50 acres of family park fun including fishing piers, a playground, picnic shelters, and flower gardens.
Dinner time is approaching! Moline has a plethora of dining options that cater to the tastebuds of even the most discerning foodies. Head up the road to Fifth Avenue Syndicate in the Axis Hotel. This bistro & bar honors the cocktail culture of the 20s and the chef-inspired menu is simply sumptuous. They’re known for their Meatloaf en Croute, which is a bacon and beef blend wrapped inside a puff pastry.
What about dinner and a show? Drop the car off at the City of Rock Island Parking Ramp where you’ll find plenty of charging stations and take a three-minute walk towards the historic, Vaudevillian Dinner Playhouse, Circa ’21, to enjoy a full-course dinner and watch one of their many musical productions.
When it’s time to retire for the evening, both you and the car can recharge at the Hyatt Place East Moline, which is located on the riverfront. You’ll wake up to stunning views of the banks of the Mississippi River.
Before you restart your journey, make a pit stop at Milltown Coffee, which proudly serves locally roasted beans and makes its own latte syrup using real ingredients. A perfect start to another exciting day on the road. Traveling from Moline to Quincy is roughly 2.5 hours, so make sure your vehicle is fully recharged.
Quincy is a history and architecture lover’s dream. The community is enriched with four National Historic Register Districts that are teeming with antebellum buildings.
First things first, drop the car off at Villa Kathrine Park, which is a four-acre common located on Gardner Expressway and has complimentary charging stations. Built in 1900, the Villa Kathrine is a Moroccan-style home that overlooks the river and is the subject of its own mysterious and intriguing lost treasure story. Plus, it’s the perfect place to start your day because it also houses the Quincy Tourist Information Center where you can rent tandem and Trek Lime Lite Bikes and see Quincy by bicycle. This is truly the best way to experience the rich architecture and history of this beloved town.
A half a mile north of 3rd Street is where you’ll find the Quincy Museum – the perfect first stop on your bike tour. This museum stands as a captivating testament to the past of Quincy, housing multiple, rotating floor exhibits and featuring 14-karat gold woodwork. It’s also kitty-corner from the Quincy Art Center, which presents multi-faceted exhibits and shows should you desire to take in a little artwork, too.
Hungry yet? Quincy has a wealth of restaurants and diners that are as vibrant and intriguing as the town’s rich and colorful history and architecture. The Park Bench offers a delicious assortment of American favorites including burgers, sandwiches, and more. Tiramisu is also a local favorite, specializing in thin-crust pizza, pasta and more in their warm, wood-paneled trattoria.
After lunch, perhaps some fresh air is in order. Head to Washington Park in the downtown district and take a leisurely stroll through the commons. The park is known to host weekly farmer’s markets and free blues concerts as well.
At some point, you’ll need to retrieve your car. Then you can drive over and keep the museum fun going by driving up to the 1930’s Ag Museum where you can witness an impressive 42-piece John Deere implement collection, featuring antique farming equipment and much more.
Also, feel free to check out the schedule for The Quincy Community Theatre and see what shows are playing at this state-of-the-art playhouse. It’s a prime spot to experience some local entertainment and get a feel for the culture of the community.
Having explored Quincy, make a reservation at the Boodalu Steakhouse. Its amazing views of the Mississippi River coupled with its mouthwatering prime rib eye make for a deliciously enchanting evening that will put a nice cap on the end of your day in Quincy. Of course, you can always grab a drink at The Abbey afterward and extend your night a little longer.
The comfortable and charming Town & Country Inn and Suites have charging stations in the adjacent parking lot. If you’re keen to stay in the heart of the city, though, the recently renovated Atrium Hotel on Third is near Blessing Hospital where you’ll find a few charging stations as well.
It’s time to say goodbye to Quincy, but not before visiting the neighborhood bakery, Krazy Cakes Café and Bakery, for some coffee and muffins or donuts.
Once you’re fully caffeinated, it’s time to head to your next destination: Alton. Be advised that it’s a 2.5-hour drive from Quincy (roughly 114 miles).
But you’ll hardly notice the drive when you’re back on the Great River Road and traveling alongside the mighty Mississippi. The scenic views. The sound of water splashing against the riverbanks. It’s something out of a Nicholas Sparks novel.
Before heading into Alton, make a pit stop in Grafton – a unique little town where the entire village is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Drive into Pere Marquette State Park to take in over 8,000 acres of scenic beauty while your car can also get a charge. From there, make your way to the Grafton Sky Tour where you can take an enclosed gondola and soar over 300 feet to Aerie’s Resort and winery. Grab lunch at the Terrace, ride the Alpine Coaster and enjoy the views afforded to you by this unique destination that offers a mix of excitement and thrills to suit everyone. There’s so much to do you could end up spending the whole day here!
Time to head onwards to Alton. City Hall is a great place to stop first as they have charging stations available for EV drivers. It’s also three minutes away from the Riverfront Park where you can walk around, explore the park, and check out the Alton Marina. Plus, it’s only a block from downtown Alton if you’re in the mood for some serious shopping and lunching.
Head over to “Antique Row” – Alton’s historic downtown district – where you’ll discover over 40 antique and specialty shops that offer a wide array of treasures and trinkets to take home with you. Must-see stops include Mississippi Mud Pottery where you can watch natural clay materials get molded and crafted right before your very own eyes into creative, functional stoneware pottery.
On your way through town, walk by the Miles Davis Statue and pay tribute to a jazz legend before appeasing your appetite at Old Bakery Beer. Enjoy high-quality foods that can be perfectly paired with handcrafted beers – with organically grown hops and malt. Just make sure to grab a signature cookie or cupcake at Aria’s Cookies and Confections LLC at some point. The sugar rush is well worth the slight detour.
After lunch, walk a block down Broadway and step inside a world of wonder and oddity at The Soul Asylum. The robots nestled inside will watch you as you explore kitschy ghost-hunting kits and quack medicine. It’s a 1,500-foot museum that’s dedicated to the just plain weird. And what’s a road trip without a little spook?
While you’re on a museum kick, explore antiquity and culture at the Alton Museum of History and Art, which preserves the great heritage of the Alton community. Hundreds of exhibits can be found that showcase the vast and many crossroads of American history in Alton. Such as the Pioneer Room, which explores the history of the town from the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Civil War. It’s also nearby the 702-acre Gordon Moore Park where you can stop by and watch a variety of collegiate and other amateur sporting events that may be occurring. The south lot and soccer complex lot of the community park have charging stations, FYI!
When dinner time hits, grab a slice at Town Club of Alton, Inc., where they do fun, modern spins on classic pizzas. Pair it with a cold beer from their tap and you’re golden. Or try the legendary Fast Eddie’s Bon Air where they serve up great food and great entertainment for its patrons. Bon Air has been said to be the #1 volume bar in the world and, with over 4,000 half barrels of beer and thousands of cases of cans and bottles, it’s easy to believe!
Once you’re filled up, it’s time to explore Alton’s nightlife. Start off the evening at Bubby and Sissy’s where you’ll see the best drag show in town. Then head a few blocks towards the riverfront and descend upon Argosy Casino – a must-visit hotspot of Alton. Let your vehicle charge up in the parking lot while you check out three floors of gaming action and thousands of slot machines.
When it’s time to turn in, Alton has a variety of places to stay for the night. You can rest up at Best Western Premier while your car recharges in the parking lot. If you want to treat yourself to upscale lofts that offer fantastic views of the riverfront and the Clark Bridge, then Cracker Factory Great Rivers Lodging is the place for you.