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Driving south on I-61

Atlanta, Georgia
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Driving south on I-61

My family is driving down from St Paul to St Louis and would like to identify the most interesting and scenic route possible. On the map, driving all the way down I-61 looks appealing, but we've noticed that this itinerary never comes up on Google Maps -- which suggests that it's prohibitively time-consuming or otherwise not a good idea. If we went this way, would we spend too much time waiting at stop-lights in small towns? If so, what would be the best way to go? We aren't in too much of a hurry, and we wouldn't necessarily need to hug the river all the way down, although some of the time would be nice. Thanks!

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Saint Paul
Saint Paul
Minnesota
4 replies to this topic
USA
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1. Re: Driving south on I-61

Welcome to the forum, Swallowgate!

The Iowa portion of US 61 is an excellent road, multi-lane most of the way, and not particularly scenic. The highway bypasses most towns until you reach Burlington, except for Dubuque and Davenport. US 61 is slow going in Davenport. Bypass on I-80 and I-280 unless you want to see the city.

Dubuque is the oldest and most interesting city in Iowa, with the Mississippi River Aquarium, Fenelon Place Elevator, and more. Possible Iowa attractions are Maquoketa Caves (no stalagmites or stalagtites, I like the ferns and old growth timber) and Burlington's Snake Alley (very crooked street). For good scenery, detour into illinois to Nauvoo between Fort Madison and Keokuk.

US 61 is also an excellent road in Missouri. For trips from Davenport to St. Louis I alternate between taking US 61 and the interstate with little difference in travel time. Hannibal is an interesting stop in Missouri.

I am not familiar with the Minnesota or Wisconsin portions of the route. I enjoyed the National Brewery museum in Potosi in southwest Wisconsin. There is an excellent rest stop just before reaching Dubuque.

Forcing Google maps to follow US 61 by adding destinations turns up a 643 mile route with 12 hour driving time.

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Madison
Madison
Wisconsin
Missouri
Missouri
United States
Hannibal
Hannibal
Missouri
Minnesota
Minnesota
United States
Wisconsin
Wisconsin
United States
Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: Driving south on I-61

Thanks, so much, Hoogo, for all the helpful information. I had to laugh at your "forcing Google maps" observation, because that's exactly what I'd been trying to do with no success! I'm sure our trip will be all the better for getting your tips.

Iowa
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3. Re: Driving south on I-61

Hi Swallowgate,

When are you coming through Iowa?

I will check and see if there are any festivals or events that you might want to coordinate your trip with.

Atlanta, Georgia
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4. Re: Driving south on I-61

Hi, Lem --

I've already passed through, alas. Thanks so much for your generous offer! We only saw a small slice of Iowa, and I am definitely hoping to see more, asap.

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