What is the best driving route from Dallas to Chicago?

Driving from Dallas to Chicago?

It’s going to be a fun ride! Whether you’re planning a move or simply taking a leisurely road trip, there’s something for everyone on this route. We’ll show you the best way to travel from Dallas to Chicago, and a wide range of things to see and experience along the way.

What’s the best route?

We think the best way to drive to Chicago from Dallas is by taking I-30 to I-40, then connecting to I-55 and I-57, and this is why:

  • It’s the most direct route from the heart of Dallas to the heart of Chicago
  • You’ll pass through Little Rock and Memphis
  • It’s the perfect route for outdoor enthusiasts (you’ll see why later)
Woman driving and looking out the window on her route from Dallas to Chicago.


Let’s dive into this route in detail...

Your trip from Dallas to Chicago

Suggested Resource: Road Trip Tips for Long Drives

How long is the drive?

The drive is approximately 967 miles, which will take almost 2 days (driving 8 hours or 500 miles per day).

When’s the best time to go?

When moving from south to north, it’s important to consider typical weather patterns. Tornado season runs March through June, while winter storm season runs November through April. While this doesn’t mean you’ll run into this type of weather if you travel during these months, it’s a good idea to be aware of potential threats. Check with the National Weather Service weeks and days prior to your trip to find out what Mother Nature has planned.

How much will gas cost?

It depends on what you’re driving. Check the Fueleconomy.gov Trip Calculator to get a close estimate of what gas could cost for your trip. Simply enter the year, make, model, and options for your vehicle, select Dallas and Chicago as your cities, and click “Go” to see your costs. 

Where should we stay?

Since this route only takes two days from start to finish, why not spend the night in the Memphis area? It’s almost 7 hours from Dallas, and from Memphis to Chicago, only 8 hours.

Here are some other sleeping options:

  • Leave Dallas and spend 5 hours behind the wheel, then catch some Zzzs in Little Rock. The next day, make a 6 hour drive to Mount Vernon, IL, and then travel only 4 hours the next day to Chicago. (3 days; 2 nights)
  • If you want explore Memphis, spend a full day in the city, then travel the next day to Chicago – only 8 hours away. (3 days; 2 nights)

Because driving from Dallas to Chicago is such a short trip, the options on where to stay depend on the reason you’re traveling. If it’s a leisure trip, the possibilities are basically endless!

Where should we eat?

If you leave Dallas in the morning, you’ll be hungry for a bite to eat around lunchtime. Little Rock has plenty of options, from the Root Café, Brave New Restaurant, and ZaZa Fine Salad and Wood-Oven Pizza, to Capital Bar and Grill, Big Orange, and Layla’s Restaurant.

Whatever lunchtime meal you choose, be sure to make it light. Why? Because Memphis barbeque. Since Memphis is only 3 hours from Little Rock, you might have to kill and hour or two before you finally get the hunger bug again. But, when it’s finally time to dine, we suggest hitting Beale Street. There’s an assortment of BBQ places just waiting to whet your appetite. Whatever you do on your trip from Dallas to Chicago, don’t miss out on Memphis barbecue.

The next day, grab breakfast, then travel to Chicago. Consider stopping in Mt. Vernon for lunch, and the outskirts of Chicago for dinner before arriving at your destination.

Are there any toll roads?

Fortunately, there are no tolls along this route.

What should we do for fun?

If you love the great outdoors, you’ll love experiencing these parks and outdoor recreation activities:

  • Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR (yes, you can dig for real diamonds!)
  • Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock
  • Memphis Botanic Garden
  • Ferne Cylffe State Park in Goreville, IL
  • Rend Lake State and Fish Wildlife Area in Bonnie, IL
  • Hidden Springs State Forest in Strasburg, IL

Stopping in Little Rock? Visit the Arkansas State Capitol (built as a replica of the U.S. Capitol), the Big Dam Bridge, and the Little Rock Zoo.

Got a few days to spend in Memphis? Tour Graceland, the Children’s Museum of Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Memphis Zoo.

When you’re not in Little Rock, Memphis, or exploring the outdoors, try these fun ideas:

  • Visit America’s all-glass bathroom in Sulphur Springs, TX
  • See the Half-N-Half Post Office in Texarkana, AR
  • Explore Johnny Cash’s Boyhood Home in Dyress, AR
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL
  • Pet Rudolph at Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in Rantoul, IL
  • Get a picture with the World’s Largest Wind Chime and Golf Tee in Casey, IL

Alternative routes from Dallas to Chicago

The route above isn’t the only way to drive to Chicago from Dallas. Take a look at these other options:

Swing by St. Louis

If you want to go through St. Louis without traveling through Memphis, make your way toward McAlester, TX, through Muskogee, OK, past Joplin and Springfield, MO, and on to St. Louis. When you’re ready to travel to Chicago, just follow I-55 through Springfield, IL.

Go to Memphis and St. Louis

If you want to stop by both Memphis and St. Louis on your way to Chicago, visit Memphis first, then travel I-55 to St. Louis (stop by Lamberts in Sikeston, MO for some delicious throwed rolls). When you’re done in St. Louis, continue on I-55 to Chicago.

Detour to Nashville, Louisville, and Indianapolis

If you want to travel though a few big cities, drive through Memphis on I-40 to Nashville, then take I-65 north to Louisville, and continue the path to Indianapolis, then finally Chicago.

What route will you take?

Whether you want to get to Chicago quick or take your time, there are plenty of ways to start planning your trip. Use Google Maps in conjunction with Roadtrippers.com to choose your route and what to see and do as you travel. 

Moving from Dallas to Chicago

If your trip involves a move, U-Pack®can help make it a smooth one. We’ll take care of the driving, while you take care of the loading and unloading. It’s a convenient way to move to Chicago because you can drive your personal vehicle – not a rental truck. It’s also an affordable way to move. Get an instant moving quote now, or call a friendly moving consultant at 844-362-5303844-594-3077 to talk about your move. We’re happy to help.

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