Scenic Route 6 in Indiana
Route 6 in Indiana offers the drive a mostly rural experience, as one begins in the east and drives west. The road traverses the northern portion of the state but is situated so that it misses the larger northern Indiana cities of Fort Wayne and South Bend.
In Indiana, the easternmost town on Route 6 is Butler, which dates to 1856, when the railroad reached this location. Quaint bungalows, historic churches and more than 30 contributing structures to the Butler Downtown Historic District will greet you as you drive through town.
When you come to Waterloo, be sure to enjoy a look at the decorated red brick cottages in the style of Andrew Jackson Downing, at the corner of N Center and Route 6. At Waterloo, we recommend that you take route 427 south to Auburn to visit the Auburn-Cord-Duisenberg Museum in the town where these supremely elegant classic cars were manufactured.
Returning to Route 6 and continuing west you will have a straight stretch to and through Corunna, and on into Kendalville, named for Amos Kendall, the eighth US Postmaster General. There are some interesting old Victorian-era commercial buildings; look for the one with the charming elephant head brackets. The Mid-America Windmill Museum offers a walk on a trail set among a collection of working antique windmills.
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The road curves through charming Wawaka and the on to Ligonier, which began as a Native American settlement known as Strawberry Valley. You can see it depicted in one of the more than 20 murals showing highlights of the town’s history. Take Calvin Street north to see some of the fine old houses and the vintage business district. The Ligonier Historical Museum is in the 1889 building of Congregation Ahavas Sholem (Lovers of Peace), one the few remaining nineteenth-century synagogues in the United States. This is part of Indiana’s Amish and Mennonite country. Don’t be surprised if you see a horse and buggy, or horse drawn farm equipment in the passing fields.
Quaint Napanee features photo-worthy old homes and shops to explore in the center of town. Those outer lanes in both directions are for the horses and buggies. West of town, visit Amish Acres to learn about these people who are famous for farming, family, and faith. See the round red barn, shop, dine and stay at the Stahly-Nissley-Kuhns farmstead, the only Amish farm listed in The National Register of Historic Places.
Bremen is named after the city in Germany, indicating the German origins of its early residents. The Scottish Inn there has published a cookbook filled with recopies that the Inn is famous for. You can get one at the Inn or Town Hall.
Drive through La Paz, and the town in Bolivia, it is a small town noted for its grain elevator. The grain elevators of the Midwest tower over the landscape and are considered the rural version of skyscrapers. In the flat prairies, you can see these landmarks long before you reach them.
Walkerton is a small town in touch with the past; you will see several interesting old buildings in the town. In the 1920s the remains of eight “Mound Builders” along with their copper armor, were discovered here. The location is now a Christmas tree farm.
Continue through South Center and Kingsbury, at the intersection of 421 and 6, you will wonder if perhaps this is where the famous “North by Northwest” Prairie Stop scene happened, where Roger O. Thornhill was attacked by the crop-dusting plane. Although this looks very much like it, the actual location for the scene was in Wasco, near Bakersfield, California, on Route 99.
Westville is just 15 miles from Lake Michigan, so it’s the perfect place to stop and take a side trip. While you’re in town, check out the main architectural landmarks: The red brick Everel S. Smith House and the Victorian-Era Odd Fellows Hall.
At Hobart Road, Route 6 turns north and soon joins the interstate. If you would prefer to have the more scenic and traditional drive, follow Ridge Road through Hammond and Munster, then jog up via Illinois Route 83 to South Holland. This stretch and the continuing portions of Route 6 in Illinois might be best described as suburban sprawl, as all of these communities are bedroom communities for Chicago.
South Holland is one of the few places in which, by ordinance, every business except travel related business is closed on Sundays. Markham has as its symbol a Lone Pine Tree from the Black Forest. The original tree died in 1986, and the current tree is a replacement. The Chicago Gaelic Park in Oak Forest is famous for their Irish Fest on Memorial Day and is home to an Irish pub.
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Continue through Orland Park and New Lenox to Joliet. Pay a visit to the Rialto Square Theatre and the Joliet Area Historical Museum. Then visit the historic Route 66 Raceway. After you cross the Des Plaines River, stop at the Rocky Run Rookery Preserve for bird watching, picnicking, boating, and fishing.
Past Channahon, the drive becomes less urban, and the flat prairies are more visible. Enjoy the unfolding prairie scenery as you drive through the northern reaches of the city of Morris. Further on, is the town of Seneca. Continue to Marseilles where the main street and the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Depot offer photo opportunities. Here, architecture fans may wish to detour up to Plano to see the famous all-glass Farnsworth House by celebrated 20th-century architect Mies van der Rohe. Advance reservations are strongly encouraged.
Somewhere around Peru and Coal Valley, it strikes you how very different this stretch of Route 6 is from the southern suburbs of Chicago you have left behind. The 360 view of the Illinois prairies as you cross over I-180 will impress you with its flatness.
By contrast, the county seat town of Princeton has an impressive array of stately mansions of the late Victorian to Prairie Style eras. At Princeton see the downtown shops. Drivers will enjoy the treat of driving through the 150-year-old Red Covered Bridge and the newer Captain Swift Covered Bridge. Dine at Four and Twenty Café or Prime Quarter Steak House, and save room for pie at Myrtle’s.
Continue through quaint Annawan and Geneseo, famous for its gorgeous restored Victorian homes and maple tree-lined streets, as well as its antique and boutique shops.
Your last Route 6 stop in Illinois is Moline, World Headquarters of John Deere. Here you can see their famous green and yellow farm machinery on display. Dine at Lemon Grass, Barley and Rye Bistro, or the River House Bar and Grille. Enjoy views of the Mighty Mississippi River and the Davenport, Iowa skyline, or take a cruise on the Celebration Belle to ride the river.
Download our free complete Route 6 eBook that includes maps and details of all the destinations you will pass through on this scenic route. These details include local attractions, history, dining and more that you’ll have the opportunity to experience when passing through or staying overnight before continuing your drive. In addition, you can download a printer-friendly version.