Along US-31 / US-31E / US-31W


US-31 is a north/south route beginning at Alabama's Gulf Coast and ending just short of the Straits of Mackinac, in Michigan. It offers a leisurely path for riders through some country that most travelers run by at 75 MPH.

US-31E and US-31W are included in this listing.

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
119 Miles
2.2 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Alabama DOT
Alabama DOT Map
Major Crossroads

Spanish Fort, AL to Georgiana, AL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
109 Miles
2.5 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Alabama DOT
Alabama DOT Map
Major Crossroads

Georgiana, AL to Jemison, AL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
150 Miles
2.8 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Alabama DOT
Alabama DOT Map
Major Crossroads

Jemison, AL to Ardmore, AL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
131 Miles
2.6 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Tennessee DOT
Tennessee DOT Map
Major Crossroads

Ardmore, AL to Kentucky Border

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
90 Miles
1.4 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Kentucky DOT
Tennessee DOT Map
Major Crossroads

Tennessee Border to LaRue County, KY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
65 Miles
1.3 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Kentucky DOT
Tennessee DOT Map
Major Crossroads

LaRue County, KY to Louisville, KY

via US-31E

From the Hodgenville area to Louisville is another once of those 'touring' choices, and riders seeking a quiet country road should opt for the easterly route.

Plan a 30 minute stop at Knobs Creek, Lincoln's boyhood home, especially if you can arrive early in the morning when you will likely be the only visitors at the site and the park rangers can spend some extra time explaining about how the Lincoln family got to Knob Creek and the impact it had upon Lincoln's youth.

US-31E through this area will likely never be widened to four lanes because it winds through narrow valleys as it follows creeks and small gorges. This is one of the few routes along the US Highway System that still lies atop the original macadam roads on the 1800's. It's a peaceful ride of gentle twists and a slight rise and fall every half mile or so.

The first and only large town along this segment is Bardstown - a friendly place that offers a very nice state park for camping and lots of opportunities for entertainment and shopping. This is a good place for an overnight stop for all the right reasons.

North of Mt Washington the route goes to four lane for 14 miles and back to two lanes after passing the I-264 loop. Inside the loop the route is essentially a surface street for the greater Louisville area.

via US-31W

The westerly route through Elizabethtown and the Fort Knox area would appear to be a quicker way to Louisville, but only because it is four lane divided for all but ten miles of the segment. The truth is that you can really make good time during the late evening and overnight hours, but heavy traffic at other times really makes it difficult. Toss in frequently hot days in summer and this can be an uncomfortable ride that will fatigue you quickly.

If you do choose this way to Louisville, be sure to come THROUGH Elizabethtown and not around it. You'll find a surprisingly neat and bustling small city environment that offers some nice shopping and restaurant areas.


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
72 Miles
1.2 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Indiana DOT
Indiana DOT Map
Major Crossroads

Louisville, KY to Columbus, IN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
95 Miles
1.7 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Indiana DOT
Indiana DOT Map
Major Crossroads

Columbus, IN to Kokomo, IN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
88 Miles
1.4 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Indiana DOT
Indiana DOT Map
Major Crossroads

Kokomo, IN to South Bend, IN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  
Dist:
& Est Time:
153 Miles
2.8 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Michigan DOT
Michigan DOT Map
Major Crossroads

South Bend, IN to Shelby, MI

South Bend to Holland

Built to Interstate Highway standards most of the way, US-31 northbound doesn't give much to brag about. It's generally inland, with no views of Lake Michigan and the only scenery is the occasional Indiana resident looking for five legged cows. Those folks tend to be VERY absorbed by the search, be wary of them.

From I-94 to Holland US-31 shares the way with I-196. There are several large towns along the way, but you must make a conscious effort to visit them. The scenic alternative is to find your way to MI-A2 at Coloma or South Haven. It's much more fun, but you will be traveling at 45 MPH rather than the 70 MPH expected along US-31.

Holland to Muskegon

The chance for spying something scenic increases a slight bit along this portion. The old route along the lake is still the more scenic option, although you don't get close to the lake often, but you WILL begin to encounter a few hills to break the monotony.

Both Holland and Muskegon offer tourist the chance to shell out a few dollars and there are numerous opportunities for lodging all along the way, and that will fit every budget.

Muskegon to Shelby

There are hints along the roadside that something good lies ahead. There are more signs leading to campgrounds and dune experiences. The road itself is still boring and frequently fast, but the number of Indiana looky-loos have decreased dramatically and you have time to glance around and actually appreciate the stands of birch and pine. Any urge to wander the state and county roads in search of a viable alternative should be dealt with firmly. They might be mildly interesting, but they don't go anywhere significant unless you are looking for baby food manufacturers.
  
Dist:
& Est Time:
215 Miles
5.0 Hours
State Map
& Segments:
Link to Michigan DOT
Michigan DOT Map
Major Crossroads

Shelby, MI to Mackinaw City, MI

Begin to Relax Near Pentwater

Have you found yourself to the Lake Michigan shoreline yet? Yes, it's beautiful! Pentwater and Ludington are the first good evidence that you are entering the sandy playground that is the northwest lower peninsula of Michigan.

Ludington is a super place for an overnight stay for both campers and motel nesters. Ludington State Park is simply beautiful, even if the State of Michigan budget problems are a constant impact upon services. And the number of really friendly motel operators here is extraordinary. Rates in peak season are pricey by upper Michigan standards, but reasonable when compared to places like Detroit, Chicago, or even Lansing.

Even if you don't plan an overnight in Ludington, you MUST put aside some time to get a meal and some ice cream at the famous House of Flavors on West Ludington Ave, near the lake shore. The place started out after World War II as an outlet for a commercial dairy operation. It didn't take long before tourists had 'discovered' a scoop or two of Blue Moon ice cream put a perfect smile on a sunburned face. In the mid-1960's they offered a milkshake so large that if you we able to finish it in under 15 minutes they would give you a free one just to show their admiration. That led to things like the "Pig's Dinner" and the "Super Pig's Dinner" - each comes with a small lapel pin to prove you really are a glutton. It's all in fun, and will create a lasting memory for you and those that ride with you.

Ludington's car ferry service to Wisconsin used to be a great side trip for riders but, sadly, the service is now gone. US-10 doesn't terminate here, it just takes several hours to get to the other section!

Manistee

Route 31 takes a nine mile jog over US-10 east to Scottville and then heads due north as a two lane road to Manistee, where you have a serious tourism choice to make. Do you stay on US-31 to Traverse City? Or do you commit a full half day or longer to run M-22, one of Michigan's most scenic state highways?

Spend a couple of hours in Manistee before you decide, the antique flavor of the little town will set your mood. The place has a number of restaurants and shops all staffed by locals eager to serve summer vistors. The town wraps around the outlet of the Little Manistee River and it's really easy to find yourself just enjoying the sunshine. Have you decided on your route yet?

North to Traverse City

There's not much along the way if you are looking for towns and places to eat, sleep, or shop. Benzonia and Beulah are pretty typical northern Michigan semi-resort towns, and if you are careful in your search you'll find some interesting people. This is where Bruce Catton lived and died, so that might give you a clue of what I'm referring to. If you don't know who Bruce was, just keep on riding - the road is in good shape and the scenery is nice.

Traverse City is a very large town in northern Michigan comparative terms. It has lots of places to sleep and eat, and the shops are varied in what they offer and how much you should expect to spend. There's a small zoo down by the bay and an airport with scheduled airline connections to Lansing and points south. The views from any of the roads along the bay demand a slower pace and that you pay attention - others on the road are gawking too and inattention could hurt.

Be sure to allow time for a 40 mile out and back along M-37 to visit Old Mission. Be prepared with a light jacket as you get off the bike to wander around, it's always several degrees cooler at the end of the point than in Traverse City.

Traverse City to Mackinaw City

From TC up to the Straits of Mackinac along US-31 there are a few large towns and several small villages. The difficult choice is deciding exactly where to stop and enjoy the view or what little side roads look most interesting.

It's only about 90 miles to the Straits, and it is possible to hustle along if you want, but why would you want? Enjoy the slower pace. This is Hemingway country. Imagine you are riding an old passenger railroad car making it's way across the top of the mitt. Hemingway described it with love and admiration almost a century ago, and essentially the area has changed very little since then. Bring your fishing pole and wet a line, or rent a canoe and paddle idly along the shore of Little Traverse Bay or on Crooked Lake. Most riders never bother to slow down and see what's here, the rewards for those that do are many.

At Mackinaw City the route ends upon intersecting I-75. The flavor and pace of the the town caters to the summer tourist as it serves those jumping off to Mackinac Island or over the bridge to the Upper Peninsula. Prices for lodging and food range from not much to Holy Cow! Many of the dining rooms will post a menu outside of the door to soften the surprise when the check arrives.

Surprisingly, Mackinaw City actually caters to motorcycle riders. It's not unusual to see a couple of hundred bikes in town on a warm summer day. Most of the motels understand your parking needs and some will even toss you a few old cloths to wipe down your ride at the end of the day.


Other than that stretch through Indiana that would bore even a funeral director, US-31 is a fun ride north from Mobile Bay. I hope you enjoy your trip and remember - ride safely.

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AL - Besemer (US-11) - Custom Performance Honda
AL - Birmingham (US-280) - Birmingham Botanical Gardens
AL - Birmingham - M/C Dealers & Repair
AL - Clanton (US-31) - Confederate Park
AL - Cullman (US-31) - The Sports Center
AL - Decatur (AL-67) - Allsport, Inc.
AL - Decatur (AL-67) - Cycles Unlimited
AL - Hoover (AL-150) - Aldridge Botanical Garden
AL - Pelham (AL-11) - Oak Mountain State Park
AL - Pelham (US-31) - Heart of Dixie Harley-Davidson
AL - Pelham (US-31) - Pelham Powersports
AL - Spanish Fort (US-90) - Meaher State Park
AL - Stockton (AL-59) - Fort Mims
IN - Peru (US-31) - Grissom Air Museum
IN - Scottsburg (US-31) - Pigeon Roost
KY - Bardstown (US-150) - My Old Kentucky Home SP
KY - Bowling Green (I-65) - National Corvette Museum
KY - Bowling Green (KY-100) - Lost River Powersports
KY - Bowling Green (US-31) - Lost River Cave
KY - Elizabethtown - Area Attractions
KY - Hodgenville (US-31E) - Abraham Lincoln Birthplace
KY - Horse Cave (KY-218) - Hidden River Cave
KY - Horse Cave (KY-218) - Kentucky Down Under
KY - KY - Mammoth Cave (KY-255) - Mammoth Cave NP
KY - Lucas (US-31) - Barren River Lake State Resort Park
KY - New Haven (US-31) - Kentucky Railway Museum
KY - Shepherdsville (KY-44) - Louisville South KOA
MI - Benzonia (US-31) - Benzie Area Historical Museum
MI - Ludington (US-31) - Historic White Pine Village
MI - Mackinac Island City (US-23) - State Hist Parks
MI - Mackinaw City (US-23) - Colonial Michilimackinac
MI - Muskegon (US-31) - Great Lakes Naval Memorial
MI - Bay View (US-31) - Terrace Inn
MI - Bear Lake (US-31) - Bella Vista Inn
MI - Benton Harbor (M-139) - Harbor Sports Cycle
MI - Benzonia (US-31) Hanmer's Riverside Resort
MI - Berrien Springs (US-31) - History Center Courthouse Sq
MI - Beulah - Area Lodging
MI - Coloma (M-140) - Coloma Motor Sports
MI - Conway (US-31) - Highland Trails Sales
MI - East Jordan (M-66) - T&R Yamaha
MI - Grand Haven (US-31) - Blue Water Inn Downtown Suites
MI - Grand Haven (US-31) - Courtesy Motel
MI - Grand Haven (US-31) - Days Inn
MI - Grand Haven (US-31) - Khardoma Lodge B&B
MI - Grawn (US-31) - Sleeping Bear Motor Sports
MI - Honor (US-31) - Honor Motel
MI - Ludington (US-10) - Viking Arms Inn
MI - Manistee - Area Attractions
MI - Manistee - Area Lodging
MI - Muskegon (M-3) - Hot Rod H-D
MI - Muskegon (M-46) - Lakeshroe Museum Center
MI - Onekama (US-31) - Alpine Motor Lodge
MI - Petoskey (US-131) - Apple Tree Inn
MI - Petoskey (US-31) - Coach House Inn
MI - Petosky - Area M/C Dealers & Repair
MI - South Haven (M-43) - Michigan Maritime Museum
MI - South Haven (US-31) - VanderZee Motorplex
MI - Spring Lake (M-104) - Bill's Sport Shop
MI - Spring Lake (M-104) - Midwest Motorsports LLC
MI - Traverse City (US-31) - Classic Motor Sports
MI - Traverse City (US-31) - Dennos Museum Center
TN - Castilian Springs (TN-25) - Cragfont Historical Site
TN - Columbia (US-412) - James K. Polk Home
TN - Franklin (US-431) - Carter House Historical Site
TN - Gallatin (TN-25) - Bledsoe Creek State Park
TN - Hendersonville (US-31E) - Rock Castle