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The Gemini Giant is a landmark statue on U.S. Route 66. The 30 foot tall statue is named after the Gemini space program and holds a silver "rocket ship" in his hands, while sporting an astronaut's space helmet that looks more like a welding mask.
The National Road is called the "road that built the nation" because it was the first highway in American history. Today the National Road in Illinois covers 164 miles, from Marshall and the Wabash Valley to East St. Louis and the Mississippi River.
Step inside the Illinois’ oldest surviving State Capitol building. Vandalia was the fourth statehouse in Illinois, and is best known for the era when Abraham Lincoln served in the Illinois House of Representatives. Visitors can enjoy guided tours of this restored landmark.
This quirky must-see Route 66 attraction, information center and souvenir gift shop is home to rabbits of all kinds, bunny and VW, as well as Mother Road memorabilia.
The experiences you’ll find here are as unique, fun and memorable as the road is long. Route 66 defined a remarkable era in our nation’s history - and it lives on today in Illinois Route 66’s many roadside attractions, museums, restaurants - and the shining ribbon of blacktop we call The Mother Road. Illinois’ stretch of this mythic road boasts the highest density of kitschy, interesting things to do you’ll find from here to California. So, join us for the far out journey that never ends on Illinois Route 66.
Come explore the Great River Bike Path. Rentals of mountain bikes, junior mountain bikes and recumbants are available April 1 - September 30. Locks also available. All rentals include helmets and a printed map.
Located one mile west of Princeton in Bureau County, Illinois is the Captain Swift Covered Bridge. Built in 2006, the bridge derives its strength from its burr arch design, an idea patented by Theodore Burr of New York in 1804. Made entirely of wood using 1800s concepts (it has an outer skin of Douglas Fir), the Captain Swift Covered Bridge is the only two-lane covered bridge in Illinois. It has a 16’-3” vertical clearance, a 28 foot minimum roadway width and a 128’ span over the Big Bureau Creek. GPS co-ordinates - N41 22.745 W89 29.871
This quote from President Teddy Roosevelt describes his 1910 visit to Grandview Drive in Peoria Heights. The vistas gazed upon by the former president still sit upon bluffs unchanged from when the Indians first settled in the area centuries ago. Drive along the two-and-on-half mile drive to see the expansive panoramic view of Woodford, Tazewell and Marshall counties, where on a clear day, visitors can see more than thirty miles of the scenic Illinois River valley.
The Byway unites more than 100 nature-based destinations throughout the Illinois River Valley, beginning in Ottawa and ending 140 miles south in Havana. Find the best spots for hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, canoeing, wetlands, gardens, birding and watching wildlife.
Take a sightseeing or theme cruise on the Spirit of Peoria, an old-fashioned replica of a 19th-century riverboat that docks at the Peoria RiverFront. Join a one- to five-day overnight excursion to Starved Rock State Park or the St. Louis riverfront and be entertained by live ragtime piano and banjo music, as well as a storyteller sharing river lore, while the Spirit of Peoria paddles along the Illinois River. Stay the night at Starved Rock Lodge and see a show by a Mark Twain interpreter who brings the iconic author to life.
At Eagle's Nest Bluff in Lowden State Park, proudly stands a 48-foot statue of a Native American quietly revering the beauty of the River Rock Valley below. Commonly called Black Hawk, after the legendary Chieftain, the statue was created as a tribute to all the Native Americans who once called the area their home.
Nestled on the east bank of the Fox River, the Red Oak Nature Center is surrounded by 40 acres of lush forest and wildlife habitat – an ideal setting for visitors to learn about the great outdoors through direct interaction with nature. Six wood-chipped hiking trails and the nationally renowned Fox River Trail offer avenues of exploration via hiking and biking, with interpretive signs along the way that explain the ways of nature. Inside the Nature Center, the “Sense the Seasons” exhibit further enhances the educational experience, featuring environmental exhibits and “hands-on” participation.
Step back in time while you gather information about Marshall and the surrounding area. This quaint log cabin was originally located nine miles south of Marshall. Be sure to travel Highway 40 and the Historic National Road Scenic Byway.
Malta is home to the "first seedling mile" on the Lincoln Highway. As one of the 16 Interpretive Gazebos located along the Lincoln Highway, the Malta gazebo offers a unique way for visitors to enjoy stories of the early Lincoln Highway and its Illinois communities.
The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition has produced Interpretive Murals along the Illinois Lincoln Highway National Scenic Byway and its corridor in northern Illinois. The Malta mural depicts the history, heritage, and events of the highway and its impact in Malta and on the communities in Illinois.
Spectacular woodlands and sheer sandstone walls create a challenge for rock climbing and rappelling, as well as hiking. Outdoor lovers will also find horseback riding, a lookout tower, cabins and a swimming pool. Dine at historic Giant City Lodge, known for its homemade fried chicken dinner. Two different locations in Giant City State Park near Carbondale give you climbing options. A trail behind the picnic shelter takes you to a set of steep bluffs known as Shelter #1 near the Makanda entrance; another climbing area of the park includes the steep sandstone cliffs in Devil's Standtable. Plan to bring all of your own equipment since no permanent anchors are allowed. Ropes are permitted in both areas. After rainstorms, the wet sandstone gets really slippery. Use caution when grabbing for ledges as copperhead snakes warm themselves on the rocks during sunny days.
Explore the heart of America! Follow the Mississippi River as it winds its way along Illinois' western border from Galena to Cairo. Experience over 550 miles of small towns, big cities, historic sites, recreational areas, cultural attractions and museums. Follow the green and white paddle wheel signs as they guide your next adventure!
The Railsplitter Covered Wagon, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest covered wagon in the world, is located on the front lawn of the Best Western Lincoln Inn, near historic Route 66. A statue of Abe Lincoln reading a law book sits in the huge wooden wagon, which stands 24 feet tall.
The Emiquon Preserve, also known as the “Jewel of the Illinois River,” is aptly named for its abundance of wetlands and wildlife. The sheer biological diversity made it the natural place for Native Americans to settle long ago. In recent years, the land has undergone a restoration returning its natural beauty for all to enjoy once again.
Explore the fabled canal route that connects Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River by way of the Illinois River. Once used by Native Americans and early explorers, today the trail meanders through four state parks with landscapes ranging from towering bluffs to rolling hills. Modern-day explorers can enjoy hiking, boating and even snowmobiling.
Completed in the Summer of 2006, these 10 murals depicting historic Jacksonville scenes and events were handpainted by more than 50 sign painters and graphic artists from as far away as Scotland and New Zealand.
The Shawnee National Forest is famed for its awesome Garden of the Gods, and is home to the Rim Rock Recreational Trail (the forest has a system of 403 miles of equestrian/hiking trails). Hikers are greeted by magnificent jutting walls of rock covered with emerald-green moss, and paths that meander through canyons under the forest canopy. Nestled between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the stunning Shawnee National Forest landscape features rolling hills, lakes, creeks and rugged bluffs. If you’re into climbing than a must-see is Jackson Falls, located near the town of Ozark in the Hidden Springs Ranger District in Shawnee National Forest. The climb takes place on 60 feet of sandstone cliffs and boulders that include numerous freestanding towers.
As a centerpeice of Pere Marquette State Park, the lodge and restaurant are an attraction for visitors from miles around. Visitors can spend a day at the park and explore the Great Room of the lodge, dine in the restaurant or even spend a night in a cozy lodge room or cabin. The centerpeice of the rustic timber 1930s Great Room is the 700 ton stone fireplace and life-size chess set. The Great Rooms beckons visitors to pull up a chair and a glass of wine with a view of the Illinois River. The Lodge restaurant is known for its family-style chicken dinner and season Sunday brunch buffets. Spend the afternoon or a weekend for an unforgettable experience.