There are so many little hidden gems around the state of Illinois if you take the time to explore. Some of the best towns and villages are in parts of the state that aren't all in Chicagoland.

Let's take a little backroad trip into some parts of Illinois that you may not have known about and we don't want you to miss out.

Galena

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With charming main street shopping and dining, this is a wonderful little town to visit for a day trip or weekend getaway. Galena is about a 90-minute drive west of Rockford.

Alton

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Lots of history in the town of Alton including the Underground Railroad and Great River Road. Alton was recently voted "Best Hidden Gem on the Mississippi." About 20 minutes north of St. Louis, Missouri, the drive down from Rockford to Alton is about 4 1/2 hours.

Quincy

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With its beautiful riverfront parks and historic architecture, this is a great town to walk and explore. And with a large German heritage, you won't want to miss their annual Germanfest held the first weekend in June. Quincy is a 4-hour and 15-minute drive from Rockford.

Effingham

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A vibrant downtown and top-notch performance center make this a cool Effing town. Museums, art attractions, and plentiful outdoor recreational areas put this on the top of your list for a day trip. Effingham is just under a 4-hour drive from Rockford or there's an Amtrak stop.

Woodstock

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This village became famous for playing the role of Punxatawney, Pennsylvania in the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. The town square is charming with many local shops, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy. Take a drive over for the afternoon since Woodstock is less than an hour's drive from Rockford.

St. Charles

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The Fox River runs right through this charming city that has a small-town feel with big-time attractions. Live entertainment, arts events, beautiful parks and trails, and mouthwatering restaurants. You won't be disappointed to spend a weekend in St. Charles which is just over an hour's drive from Rockford.

Metropolis

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Along the Ohio River in southern Illinois, this is where "history and heroes meet." A large Superman statue stands watch over this cute little town that has plenty to offer visitors for the weekend including a casino and for outdoor enthusiasts, explore the Shawnee National Forest. Metropolis is just over a 6-hour drive south of Rockford.

Byron

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Award-winning golf courses, beautiful riverfront, and charming little downtown is a perfect escape from the big city stress. And you won't be disappointed with the eats and drinks in Byron, less than a 30-minute trip from Rockford.

Grafton

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Located near the Illinois and Mississippi River confluence, the energy of Grafton is all around the river with plenty of outdoor activities, and several popular restaurants right on the riverbanks. A visit to Grafton from Rockford is just under a 6-hour drive.

Carbondale

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There's a great college-town vibe with S.I.U. at the heart of Carbondale. Everything is here for a weekend trip including "unusual shops, diverse commerce, cultural activities, and many other luxuries that would be expected in a large city." Hit the road to Carbondale and it will take you just under 6 hours.

LOOK: Route 66’s quirkiest and most wonderful attractions state by state

Stacker compiled a list of 50 attractions--state by state--to see along the drive, drawing on information from historic sites, news stories, Roadside America, and the National Park Service. Keep reading to discover where travelers can get their kicks on Route 66.

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