Planning a drive from Dallas to Chicago? Make it an adventure!
Whether you’re moving cross country, taking a road trip or going to visit friends and family, the route you take from Dallas, TX, to Chicago, IL, can make or break your trip. To help you make the right choice, we’ve compiled the best route (based on mileage, time and tolls) and alternative options with sightseeing suggestions along the way. Pack your car, buckle up and hit the road!
The best route from Dallas to Chicago
Our recommended route from Dallas to Chicago is approximately 967 miles — 14 hours and 22 minutes of driving — offering you the shortest amount of time behind the wheel. For this trip we suggest traveling approximately 500 miles (no more than 8 driving hours) per day with an overnight stay in Memphis.
You'll start out on Interstate 30 East into Little Rock, AR, and then connect to I-40 East to get to Memphis, TN, for the night. The next morning, take I-55 North, which heads into Missouri, where you'll exit to I-57 North to cross into Illinois toward Chicago.
Exciting things about this trip
You'll pass through Arkansas — the Natural State — and its capital city, Little Rock. If you have time to sightsee, check out some of these fun tourist attractions:
- River Market near the Arkansas River
- Arkansas State Capitol, which was built as a replica of the U.S. capitol in Washington, D.C.
- William Jefferson Clinton Center and Presidential Library
- Little Rock Zoo
- Historic Central High School
- Discovery Museum
For the overnight stay in Memphis, there are several places to pique your interests, including:
- National Civil Rights Museum
- Beale Street
- Memphis Zoo
- Memphis Children’s Museum
- The Peabody Hotel, featuring the famous Peabody Ducks
Where should you eat?
If you leave Dallas early in the morning, it’ll be lunchtime when you reach Little Rock. The city has several fantastic restaurants, including:
- Brave New Restaurant
- ZAZA Fine Salad and Wood-Oven Pizza
- YaYa’s Euro Bistro
- The Root Café
- Big Orange
- South on Main
- Capital Bar and Grill
Memphis is only 3 hours from Little Rock, so there will be plenty of time to check out an attraction or two before your stomach starts rumbling again. When it’s mealtime, we suggest walking down Beale Street to select from so many delicious barbeque places. Don’t miss out on Memphis BBQ!
The next day, grab some breakfast at your hotel or one of the many diners around Memphis and start the drive to Chicago. Consider stopping in Mt. Vernon, IL, for lunch at a local restaurant such as Fazoli’s (Italian) or Guero’s Mexican Restaurant. If you want to enjoy dinner in the Chicago area before arriving at your destination, the possibilities are endless.
Are there toll roads?
There are no tolls along this path.
How much will gas cost?
Check out the Fueleconomy.gov Trip Calculator to get an estimate of the fuel expense for this 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.
Our suggestion isn’t the only way to get to Chicago from Dallas. You can plan the journey based on what you’d like to see as you travel.
Visit a unique national park in St. Louis
To swing through St. Louis, MO, on the way to Chicago, just head there by way of U.S. Highway 75 North into Oklahoma. While this route is actually the shortest mileage trip from Dallas to Chicago (927 miles), it might add some extra driving time due to decreased speed limits in some areas and toll roads in Oklahoma.
You can visit Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to calculate toll costs, learn about payment methods and open a Pikepass™ account to pay online.
There are tons of interesting places to visit in St. Louis including the Gateway Arch (located in a national park!), St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Union Station and Aquarium, and The Magic House-St. Louis Children’s Museum.
Plus, if you’re sharing the trip with another driver — with each person driving no more than 5 hours — staying overnight in St. Louis will put you only 5 hours away from Chicago.
Two additional ways to work in a visit to St. Louis
- Add St. Louis as a stop in our suggested route and only add about an extra hour of driving time to the trip (1033 miles — 15 hours and 18 minutes).
- Skip Memphis and head to St. Louis through Little Rock via I-30 East and I-55 North (959 miles — 14 hours and 38 minutes).
Explore frontier history in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City offers the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden. It would make a great meal or sightseeing stop.
For this route, take I-35 East/I-35 North to Oklahoma City for the stop. Then take I-40 East toward St. Louis for an overnight stay (for those sharing the driving with another person). This trip is about 1,000 miles or 15 hours and has toll roads in Oklahoma.
Mix in some major cities: Nashville, Louisville and Indianapolis
To travel through several large cities during a multi-stop road trip, drive through Memphis on I-40 to Nashville, home of the Grand Old Opry. Then take I-65 North to Louisville, which is Kentucky Derby Country and the site of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.
Later, continue the path to Indiana’s capital city — featuring the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum — before heading to Chicago. This trip is 1,138 miles with just under 17 hours of driving.
This path has tolls in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. Find out more information and how to pay by visiting the following websites:
Choose your adventure
If you and your family want to visit as many states or exciting places as possible during the drive, we’ve composed a list of different attractions that might help plan the route. This will increase driving time, but it can also create a memorable road trip experience with some sightseeing detours along the way.
Just use Google Maps® or another mapping program to choose a path based on what you want to see and do during the journey. Enter the attractions as stopping points from Dallas to Chicago and follow the directions for a unique adventure!
Things to do and see outdoors
- Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, AR (Dig for real diamonds!)
- Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock, AR
- Forest Heritage Center Museum in Broken Bow, OK
- Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center in MO
- Memphis Botanic Garden in TN
- Asian Gardens of Shreveport, LA
- White River State Park in Indianapolis, IN
- Ferne Clyffe State Park in Goreville, IL
- Rend Lake State and Fish Wildlife Area in Bonnie, IL
- Hidden Springs State Forest in Strasburg, IL
Other entertaining places to visit
- Visit America’s first all-glass restrooms in Sulphur Springs, TX
- Experience Southern University Museum of Art in Shreveport, LA
- See the Half-N-Half Post Office in Texarkana, AR
- Explore Johnny Cash’s Boyhood Home in Dyress, AR
- Get some thrills at Six Flags in St. Louis, MO
- Travel to space at the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, IN
- Embrace American history at the 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
Are you relocating from Dallas to Chicago?
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