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Denver, Chicago, Lincoln (Nebraska), Omaha, Des Moines, Iowa City

What to see between Denver and Chicago!?

Hi guys, what do you suggest as must-sees during a road trip between these Denver and Chicago? I should have 5 days to spend in this area and want to make the most of it.

5 Answers

top answer by
Valerie from Seattle

As Jacey's answer says, there are two ways to get from Denver to Chicago--lucky for you, I used to live along one of the routes, so I've done it many times!

Personally, I prefer to take the I-76/I-80 route through Nebraska and Iowa, rather than the I-70 route through Kansas and Missouri. You will miss St. Louis if you go north first, but I personally can't stand the drive through Kansas, so... it's up to you!

With five days, you'll have time to stop in Omaha and Des Moines, so here are my suggestions for both.

*Sorry the map is acting up--it seems that because this question is associated with Denver, none of my locations are coming up on the list!*

Omaha is a pretty standard Midwestern town, but there are some gems. My favorite neighborhood, and the one that seems to be more on the rise for young, adventurous folk like yourself, is Benson. Spend some time at the Beercade on Maple Street, which is home to amazing craft beer and vintage pinball/arcade games. The Waiting Room Lounge (also on Maple) plays host to all kinds of live shows if you're into that kind of thing. Finally, grab a bite at Leo's Diner for some good midwestern comfort food.

In Des Moines, if you can swing by on the weekend, be sure to check out the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market. Dinner at Proof is a great experience--their food is 'proof' that you can get really fantastic food even in the Midwest. Brunch or buy pastries from La Mie Bakery & Restaurant, but expect there will be a crowd on the weekends--it's worth it though!

If you do decide to go through Kansas/Missouri, my biggest suggestion is to do the City Museum. It is definitely one of the coolest places I've ever been, and makes that part of the drive worth it!

Safe travels--be sure to take lots of breaks on the road so you don't get tired!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. City Museum (attraction)
  2. Beercade (attraction)
  3. The Waiting Room Lounge (attraction)
  4. Leo's Diner (restaurant)
  5. Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market (attraction)
  6. Proof (restaurant)
  7. La Mie Bakery & Restaurant (restaurant)
4 thanks

answered first by
Jacey & Scott from Fort Collins

Just the drive alone will be at least 15-16 hours, depending on traffic through cities and the route you take.

If you go I-70 through Kansas and Missouri-there is really absolutely nothing until Kansas City (roughly 9 hour drive). But KC is a blast and from there you can head over to St. Louis.  Kansas City has The College Basketball Experience (CBE), great restaurants (for walking/stopping try the Country Club Plaza.  There is also a great WWI memorial garden (National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorialjust south of downtown.

Obviously, St. Louis has the Arch.  The St. Louis Zoo is pretty cool, if you are in to zoos.  Take a riverboat ride, walk around downtown, take in a Cardinals game.

If you go I-76, connecting to I-80 in Nebraska, its a similar "view" but there is a fun heritage site in Kearney, NE (Great Platte River Road Archway) and in Gothenburg is the Original Pony Express Station.  The Haymarket area of Lincoln is a blast and the The Old Market District in Omaha has fun shops and restaurants.  The Henry Doorly Zoo is always ranked tops in the US. 

Both Lincoln and Des Moines, IA are state capitals so you could visit those en route.  If you take the I-70 route, you can visit Kansas's state capital (Topeka) and then drive through Missouri on Hwy 50 to take in Missouri's state capital (Jefferson City), connect up to I-55 and visit Illinois's state capital (Springfield).

4 thanks

answered by
Matthew from Lincoln, Nebraska

On your way through Nebraska stop by Henry Doorly Zoo, grab a cup of coffee Archetype Coffee and then dinner at M's Pub

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Henry Doorly Zoo (attraction)
  2. Archetype Coffee (restaurant)
  3. M's Pub (restaurant)
2 thanks

answered by
andrew from Iowa

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. University of Iowa (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by

Stop in Des Moinesgrab a bite Zombie Burger + Drink Lab or Tacopocalypse. Take in the Des Moines River on the Principal River Walk

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Des Moines (city)
  2. Zombie Burger + Drink Lab (restaurant)
  3. Tacopocalypse (restaurant)
  4. Principal River Walk (attraction)

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