Ted and Kait moved to Illinois recently, and brought with them a love for travel. Their Instagram account, Three Hour Drive, highlights their adventures all over the country and world. The source of their name, however, focuses in on an important aspect of travel: short, nearby road trips to accessible locations. It’s the ideal way to see the things around you, and fits in great with today’s National Travel and Tourism Week theme: Travel Matters to Keeping America Connected. Ted and Kait talked to VCC about their love for Illinois and all that’s around our #OutsideofOrdinary community.
Q: When did you move to Illinois?
Last Halloween! It was a funny story for us because we saw the remake of Halloween at the movies in Connecticut the night before we moved, and didn’t realize it took place in Illinois. Needless to say, we were a little spooked for our fifteen-hour drive to our new home after that! Luckily no sightings of Michael Myers. We have been here a little over six months.
Q: What’s the importance of accessible adventures? Should more people look for quicker, closer to home getaways?
We were talking with a friend who moved to New York City from another country and she mentioned all the places she had visited in the United States already. It was kind of an “ah-ha” moment for us. We realized we didn’t have to jump on a plane to have new and exciting experiences. As a young couple, we try to be frugal, but we also get bored easily. We started looking for accessible adventures, and we fell in love with it. We wanted to encourage this idea and so our Instagram account was born! You will always be surprised by how much every town, state, and little corner has to offer!
Q: What have you found to be most rewarding about this experience?
We love when we bring any kind of attention to a small vendor, or when we hear feedback that someone tried and enjoyed one of our recommendations. Recently we talked about our road trip through Portugal and recommended a very small (and easy to miss!) restaurant in Évora. We received pictures of a couple recreating our meal (even with the same waiter) and they said it was the best steak they have ever had! It is rewarding to see people embracing and enjoying the hidden gems we recommend. It is always fun to meet new people, try new foods, and enjoy new experiences.
Q: Do you have a favorite spot in town?
We are still relatively new to the area, so we aren’t sure if it is considered a hidden gem, but we have fallen hard in love with The Bread Company in Urbana. The eclectic decor paired with wine and a charcuterie transforms you and makes you feel like you are dining in a cafe in Europe. The food is fresh, and the specials are out of this world; you can see more about our experience there on @three_hour_drive! We are also looking forward to trying Steeple Coffee House in Monticello, they were closed on our first attempt.
Q: Does Illinois/Midwest offer something some who have not been here might overlook?
We are surprised with how beautiful it was in the fall, and now the spring! Coming from New England you only hear about corn fields and how much open space there is. We found the beautiful tree-lined neighborhoods (especially now as everything is beginning to bloom) to be similar to that of neighborhoods back east. But for us the best thing about this location in the Champaign-Urbana area is the accessibility to so many major cities to explore. We have already checked Chicago and St. Louis off our bucket list and are looking forward to more trips this summer! We are hoping to get to Nashville (a little further than three hours) and maybe up to Lake Michigan and the surrounding towns.
Q: What’s the best adventure 3 hours or less from Champaign-Urbana?
We absolutely loved St. Louis. We packed a bag spontaneously and found plenty to do. Our day consisted of a trip to the St. Louis Art Museum which is located on stunning grounds that you can spend time walking (and admission was free, a major plus). We went to Salt + Smoke barbecue in the Delmar Loop for lunch (get the brisket, it rivaled Texas barbecue). We ended the night at Blueberry Hill to see a Better Than Ezra concert in an intimate basement setting where we bought tickets on the spot! We recommend the Delmar Loop area because there is plenty to do without being in the middle of downtown. St. Louis had so much personality and we can’t wait to get back.
Q: What’s coming up for you?
We are heading to Colorado next! After Colorado we are off to Chicago (we have some exciting things planned in June in Chicago you’ll want to check out), Mid-Coast Maine (the start of “Downeast” region), and then to northern Florida. In between flights we will continue to share accessible adventures; with the warmer weather on the horizon we have plenty of local recommendations coming your way. We hope you’ll join us on @three_hour_drive to learn more about our next stop, whether it is a three hour flight or a three hour drive away!