To witness the immense impact of water on the country's history, take a road trip from Tallahassee to Chicago. The journey takes you from Lake Jackson and Lake Lafayette in Tallahassee — two lakes filled with water lilies, swamp grass, bald cypress, and the animals that inhabit such areas — to Chicago and Lake Michigan. A journey like this brings a family together as they travel alongside lakes, cross large and small rivers, and enter backwaters of all sorts. While most of the journey takes you directly north along Interstate 65 North (I-65 N), side trips to nearby national and state parks lead to nature preserves, where you can experience the region as the early settlers first saw it. Road trips like this create memories that last a lifetime.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
At Nashville, TN, turn east to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hills that make up the 500,000-acre park are filled with crashing streams, waterfalls, and small lakes where the fishing is legendary. These hills were once formidable barriers to the expansion of settlement westward from the east coast. Today, the park is the most visited site in the United States. The hiking trails lead to incredible views where tree-covered hills go forever in every direction.
Mammoth Cave National Park
About 550 miles into your Tallahassee to Chicago RV road trip, you can detour 20 miles west from I-65 N to experience the Mammoth Cave National Park. The park is noted as having the most extended known system of underground caves in the world. There are more than 400 miles of caves with several branches left unexplored. One attractive section is called the “Frozen Niagara,” which features magnificent cascading flowstone formations. Other chambers include the Rotunda and the Gothic Avenue, where hundreds of 19th-century visitors graced the ceilings with their signatures.
Gateway Arch National Park
When you reach Louisville — about 650 miles into your road trip from Tallahassee to Chicago — take a detour west to visit the Gateway Arch National Park. The park commemorates one of the most significant enterprises in the country's history — the Lewis and Clark Expedition — with a fantastic engineering project. The arch symbolizes the crossing of the continent and the establishment of claim to the lands along the Pacific Ocean by a country essentially confined to a small section of the Atlantic coastline. Along with the arch, the 92 acres include important buildings where other historical events took place, such as the capture of Dredd Scott by bounty hunters searching for escaped slaves during the early 1800s.
Cuyahoga National Park
About 925 miles into your Tallahassee to Chicago road trip, you reach Gary, IN. At this point, you can make a detour east of approximately 300 miles to visit the Cuyahoga National Park. The park features over 100 miles of trails. Most trails run alongside the Cuyahoga River and its tributaries with side trails that lead up tributaries to some of the most amazing views of waterfalls you will see on this journey.
Ochlockonee River State Park
Located 20 miles south of Tallahassee, the Ochlockonee River State Park is the perfect spot to become familiar with your RV before starting north on your road trip from Tallahassee to Chicago. At this little-known park, you can stay awhile, live in your RV, and walk or bike the trails. The park sits alongside the Ochlockonee River, where the fishing is excellent, the temperature is perfect, and the warm water invites a quick swim.
Oak Mountain State Park
About 20 miles south of Birmingham, stop at Oak Mountain State Park to rest and recuperate. The park covers 9,940 acres, making it the largest state park in the Alabama system. Its landscape is stunning, and it offers trails that lead through pine-covered hills and deep hardwood valleys. With over 50 miles of trails, this isolated park provides incredible views alongside rivers and lakes that beckon the swimmer and angler to enter and try their luck.
Bledsoe Creek State Park
Bledsoe Creek State Park sits 17 miles north of Nashville, which is about 500 miles along the direct route of your road trip from Tallahassee to Chicago. The park sits beside Old Hickory Lake, a reservoir serving the Nashville area. Though the park is only 169 acres in size, its reputation as a great location to fish, either the lake or the creek, is legendary. You can fish from the bank in the area where Bledsoe Creek plunges into the reservoir — a natural feeding ground for the plentiful trout, bass, and catfish that populate the lake — or rent a boat to get on the water.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice
Make sure to add the National Memorial for Peace and Justice to your road trip itinerary from Tallahassee to Chicago. Established in 2018 in Montgomery, AL, this memorial is the first in the country dedicated to the history of slavery and the chaos that occurred in the years since its abolition. The memorial documents the terror created by race-induced lynching, the humiliation of segregation and Jim Crow, and the burden of presumed guilt brought by the color of one’s skin.
U.S. Space and Rocket Center
When you reach Huntsville, make sure to drop by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to view one of the most significant advances ever taken by humans. With over 75 exhibits that include missiles and rocket engines, this location holds interest for people of any age. Only when you witness the immensity of the Saturn V rocket can you understand the gigantic project that launched men into orbit and to the moon.
The Gary Aquatorium is a must-see stop near the end of your Tallahassee to Chicago road trip. The site is designated as a National Historic Landmark with a memorable mansion that overlooks Lake Michigan. Today, the site honors Octave Chanute, the grandfather of human flight, and the Tuskegee Airmen who spearheaded the desegregation of the United States military forces. Once designated by local authorities for demolition, this site is completely restored to its 19th-century glory.
Birmingham is about 300 miles into your road trip from Tallahassee to Chicago. It is essential to stop here to clean your tanks at one of the dump stations offered inside the city. With a population of 210,000, Birmingham is the most populous city in Alabama. Its Civil Rights history makes it the most-visited location in Alabama. Restaurants of every cuisine are located on the main streets, and museums document the historical events that took place here. RV campgrounds are plentiful and welcome visitors with friendly smiles.
About 500 miles into your Tallahassee to Chicago road trip, you reach Nashville. Though the city is known as the center of country music, it has much more to offer than singing and dancing. Museums, unique restaurants, and fascinating sights punctuate the city and help bring many visitors to this region of the nation. In recent years, the city has seen an increase in RV traffic, sparking growth in the number of dump stations and facilities. Fantastic campgrounds surround the city, allowing people to extend their road trips to experience more of what Nashville has to offer.
Known as the crossroads of America, Indianapolis offers a fascinating array of activities. Visitors come to the town for many reasons. Some come for the legendary auto races, others for political reasons, and many for the restaurants, museums, and sights that Indianapolis offers. With fewer than 200 miles remaining on your Tallahassee to Chicago road trip, this is a great place to clean your tanks at one of the several dump stations in the city. Take a few days to stay at one of the fine campgrounds so that you can fully explore every section of the city.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Tallahassee to Chicago, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Tallahassee or Chicago.