Fort Collins to Chicago Road Trip Guide


Fort Collins in Northern Colorado promises memorable times with its wonderful restaurants, shopping centers, breweries, distilleries, and outdoor opportunities. The city has a vivacious vibe and all the local fare going for it, mainly because it is home to the Colorado State University.

It’s easy to get in tune with the thriving college town, and every weekend is filled with entertainment. Some of the unmissable attractions in the city include Old Town, the real inspiration behind Disneyland’s Main Street, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, Jessup Farm Artisan Village, and the Mishawaka Amphitheatre to name just a few.

Taking Intersection-80 from Fort Collins to Chicago is easily one of the best road trips in the USA. The entire route is a cluster of exciting cities, picturesque towns, and natural marvels.

When the end of your road trip is in one of the finest tourist destinations in the USA, you know you’ll stay busy for more than a week trying to cover as many attractions as you can and trust us when we say Chicago, IL, has many. Of course, as redundant as Millennium Park sounds, you have to see it at least once to form your opinion on it. Art Institute of Chicago, Lincoln Park Zoo, and Garfield Conservatory are some other alluring spots in the city for you to check out.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: friends

Point of Interest


If you have been hoping to meet new people and make new friends during your road adventures, then Scottsbluff is the place to be. After leaving Fort Collins, make your first stop in Scottsbluff, Nebraska; explore the city and spend a night here. It’s a dream place for every road tripper, solo or with friends, who loves to make new acquaintances.

The city is also naturally blessed with scenic views that are simply gorgeous. To truly enjoy this city and be on the receiving end of the Nebraskan hospitality simply stroll through the city and try out the different restaurants and shopping centers in the district. Visit the Scottsbluff National Monument, and spend the night camping at the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. To bask in local talent, pay a visit to the Historic Midwest Theatre and West Nebraska Arts Center.

Petrified Wood Gallery

With a good night’s sleep in your system, start the first full day of your road trip early and make it to Ogallala, NE, at sun up. Here, a unique museum awaits you to expand your knowledge of ancient woods and fascinate with you all its interesting trivia.

The Petrified Wood Gallery exhibits all the natural history of ancient woods and fossils from all over the world. The exhibits include music boxes made of small pieces of petrified wood, spheres, rocks, and carvings. The gallery also has a collection of numerous gems and minerals. One of the most interesting displays in the museum is that of North American arrowheads and artifacts.

This vast and such an educational collection is the result of the passion and drive of Harvey and Howard Kenfieldin, identical twins who loved to collect such natural artifacts. Their collection begins as early as in their childhood days when they’d play around in the 1950s with arrowheads in their pockets.

Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles

After spending a few hours in the presence of petrified woods, hit the road again and take the first exit for Lexington, Nebraska. This stop is necessary because, despite the fact that there’s not much to do in here, it still happens to have one of the most detailed and authentic collections of military vehicles and weapons that date back to World War I and World War II.

The museum also proudly exhibits all the vehicles and machines used by farmers in the 1940s and 1950s by the farmers. These machines are restored and are fascinating antiques today, giving us an insight into the days of the past. The museum has more than 100 exhibits that include helicopters, ambulances, half-tracks, tanks, and jeeps from every branch of the service, engines, equipment, uniforms, weapons, and many more war memorabilia. One of the best exhibits, however, is the recreated scene from the Fall of Saigon.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Your brand-new day on the road trip should begin with an epic stop in Omaha, NE. Here, a world-class zoo and aquarium await your presence. Do not deprive yourself of the extravagance of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. This stop is extraordinarily popular and rightfully so.

Amongst its many claims to fame, the top honor goes to the Dome Desert and the Lied Jungle. The former is the largest indoor desert in the world, and the latter is the largest indoor rainforest in North America. The two are the result of the zoo’s drive to provide the most natural habitat to the an­­imals. Here you can see cheetahs, pygmy goats, sharks, and sea lions amongst many more amazing species. The Kingdom of the Night exhibit will also allow you to get a peek into the life of nocturnal animals. From bats to beaver and owls, you can observe the creatures of the dark in their most natural habitat.

Villisca Axe Murder House

Now that you have crossed the state borders of Iowa, how about spicing up your road trip by adding a dash of the sinister into the mix? Villisca Axe Murder House is more than just a tourist attraction; it is the site of one of the most brutal and gruesome murders to happen in Iowa. In 1912, one summer day in June, six children and two adults were bludgeoned to death in their beds in this very house. Even though the ax was left at the crime scene, the case remains unsolved to this day.

While anyone can visit this morbid house for a little creepy yet educational experience, crime and paranormal fanatics are especially drawn to it.If you want, you can even spend a night in the house. If you and your friends have nerves of steel, you too can pay for the experience.

Iowa State Capitol

Why not treat your eyes to one of the most gorgeous and iconic sites in the USA; the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines? This architectural ace with its legendary gold dome was established in 1886 on the edge of East Village. Today, all the lawmakers and political decision-makers gather here to pass new laws. You can have a free tour of this building and take your sweet time staring at the awe-inspiring view of the inner dome that celebrates Iowa’s support of the union forces during the Civil War.

The entire interior is adorned with hand-carved designs, huge work of arts, and displays that represent the history that took place within. The golden State Law Library is enormous, magnificent, and has more than 100,000 books. If you have a particular affinity to books, fair warning, it will be near impossible to part from the dreamy library.

Vander Veer Botanical Garden

Perhaps the most popular attraction of Davenport, IA, is the Vander Veer Botanical Garden in Vander Veer Park. Located in the Historic District of Davenport, the garden exhibits a diverse flower garden that changes throughout the year, an exotic vegetable garden, a gift shop, and a nationally recognized rose selection test garden amongst many more things.

The botanical garden is an instant-love kind of place where a stroll through the Grand Allee with its fountains, blooming flowers, and tall trees will relax you, make your biggest worries seem small, and just allow you to connect with nature with no reservations. The park is not new either, it has been there since 1885, and has recently made its place on the Davenport Register of Historic Places. The garden is also accessible to people with disabilities.

Centennial Beach

It has been a few days since you were on the road, and you have yet to see a beach. We know you might have lost all hope to see one by this point because well, you’re in the suburbs of Chicago, IL, and there’s no water body nearby. However, you can still enjoy all kinds of water-themed fun activities at Centennial Beach in Naperville. Granted it’s not a real beach, but it’s hard to miss the fun when the park has sourced two acres of water from Lake Michigan, transformed the land into a man-made sand beach, and set up restaurants, a ball field, and a skatepark nearby.

This unusual beach is created from the remains of a historic stone quarry. It’s a great place to stop at the end of your road trip, lay down a towel, make sandcastles, and just jump into the zero-depth entry to swim and cool off.


Chicago has everything you’d expect from a big metropolitan city. It has the skyline worthy of a framed picture in your house, a world-famous zoo, towering high rises, parks, museums, galleries, and pretty much everything else you can imagine. It is also home to the world’s largest dinosaur and an enormous botanical conservatory. Chicago is also known for being the birthplace of the 'Skyscraper' that changed the entire dynamics of architecture in the 20th and 21st centuries. As far as sleek, modern, and futuristic goes, Chicago has that in spades and allows visitors to explore its vast attractions to their heart’s content.

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