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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.
Cruise along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, where the Mighty Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois Rivers converge. The 33-mile byway begins in Hartford, leading you through Alton and bends along the forested river bluffs to its end point in Grafton, at Pere Marquette State Park.
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.
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.
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.
This scenic drive follows the flow of the mighty Mississippi River as it curves along the western edge of Illinois and meanders for more than 550 miles, traveling through charming small towns and offering beautiful river and woodland views along the way.
The Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive Associates invite you to come to Fulton County, Illinois and enjoy the natural wonders of the Spoon River Valley. Spoon River has carved a wide scenic valley through Fulton County as it flows from London Mills to the south and east where it joins the Illinois River near the southeastern corner of the county. The Spoon River became nationally known from the work of Edgar Lee Masters, author of the noted Spoon River Anthology. Come on out the first two full weekends in October. There are over one hundred miles of scenic routes on the Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive to be enjoyed on this driving tour with beautiful fall colors. There will be food, arts, crafts, entertainment and flea market. Visit 17 villages and historic sites!
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.
This beautiful 1.4 mile long piece of restored hand-laid brick road is a segment of 66 done in 1931 and placed over a concrete roadbed. Route 66 at its best.
Located on historic Route 66, this was originally a pharmacy built in the 1880’s. The soda fountain was added to the business in the 1950’s. Stop in for an old-fashioned treat or ice-cream. Doc’s is also open for lunch and dinner.
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.
The Polk-a-Dot Drive In was founded over 50 years ago has become one of the most memorable attractions along Illinois Route 66. Stop in and see the collection of memorabilia and enjoy a great meal.
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.
Built in 1927, Old Chain of Rocks was the fifth bridge to cross the Mississippi River, which shortened the distance between St. Louis, Missouri, and Edwardsville, Illinois by 15 miles.
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.
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 170-foot-tall bottle that resembles a Brook's Catsup Bottle served as a water tower for the catsup manufacturer after being constructed in 1949. A popular roadside attraction, it makes for a great photo op.
The Palms Grill Cafe was a well-known restaurant during the heyday of Route 66. Recently the cafe was revitalized and reopened, and is serving up delicious nostalgia from the fabled Route 66 era. The Palm’s Grill Café has been baking pies and feeding hungry travelers and residents for decades. Their pies are so delicious they've even won a few state pie competitions. Saddle up to the counter or take a seat at a table; either way, the pie and coffee with the community atmosphere is enough to make any first-timer feel like a regular. Conveniently located right across the street is the towering Bunyon’s Statue, another one of Route 66’s famous Muffler Man Statues.
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.
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.
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.
Near the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers lies a veritable bird-watching utopia. Visitors to Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge can expect to see a variety of migratory birds, from waterfowl and warblers to Acadian Flycatchers and American Bald Eagles. In fact, Two Rivers is the winter home to one the largest Bald Eagle populations in the continental United States.
Take a journey on the Illinois Lincoln Highway, a 179 mile National Scenic Byway. From the Indiana border, west toward the mighty MIssissippi, you will find an adventure filled with variety, rich in history and heritage. As you travel the Lincoln Highway route across northern Illinois, take time to discover each communities' unique culture and special offerings and find a past era woven together with the present.
This scenic overlook, located along the Great River Road on U.S. Hwy. 20, includes picnic tables, shelters and restrooms. Perfect place for photos to be taken as you can see a spectacular view of Jo Daviess County's rolling countryside.
Running parallel to the Ohio River, this scenic route rolls through Southern Illinois' Ohio River Valley, offering stunning views of the lush Shawnee National Forest, dotted by quaint river towns chock-full of Civil War history.
Dotted along the 179-mile byway, you’ll find an unprecedented series of interpretive murals. Each artistically embodies the cultural heritage of the community where it is located and the legacy of the historic highway. Needless to say, taking a road trip to all or a couple makes for a nostalgic adventure.
What a way to travel - about 75 miles, from one major river to another (the Illinois and the Mississippi), all on one newly built trail. The Hennepin Parkway State Trail (a linear state park) offers surcease from the flat, treeless Illinois prairie with a lock-strewn straight course of water and a green tunnel over the old tow path of a canal that was obsolete before it was completed. Quaint towns lie nearby, camping spaces (usually primitive) abound, and history is there for the dipping of your fingers in the water. At Sheffield, a comprehensive trail museum more than fills the gaps in your experience of a very unique way to travel through the heart of America.
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.
The Grand Illinois Trail (GIT) is a 535-mile loop trail in northern Illinois. It goes from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi along the northern border of Illinois and then loops back across the state along the Illinois River and the Hennepin Canal. 200 miles of the route is on paved township and county roads while the rest is on limestone trails or paths. Hennepin Canal Communities - Annawan, Atkinson, Geneseo and Colona.
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.
One of the first transcontinental highways, Pike's Peak Ocean to Ocean Road is one of the most unchanged of all early highways. Pick up a map to travel the Edgar County route at local Chrisman, Hume or Metcalfe shops.
Fort Defiance, known as Camp Defiance during the American Civil War, is a former military fortification, located at the awesome confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The site offers visitors the chance to view the confluence from the old observation tower.
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.
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.
As the world's tallest fountain, the Gateway Geyser Fountain reaches 627 feet in height, and is centered in a pond that holds five million gallons of water.
CITY:East St. Louis
The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition presents 16 Interpretive Gazebos along the Lincoln Highway, a 179-mile National Scenic Byway in Northern Illinois. The DeKalb gazebo offers a unique and interactive way for visitors to learn the significance of the highway in DeKalb while enjoying stories of the early Lincoln Highway and its other Illinois communities.
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.
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.
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.
The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition has produced many Interpretive Murals along the Illinois Lincoln Highway National Scenic Byway and its corridor in northern Illinois. The Cortland mural depicts the history, heritage, and events of the highway and its impact on Cortland and the other communities along the Illinois route.
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.
The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition has produced many Interpretive Murals along the Illinois Lincoln Highway National Scenic Byway and its corridor in northern Illinois. The DeKalb mural depicts the history, heritage, and events of the highway and its impact on DeKalb and the other communities along the Illinois route.
The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition has produced many Interpretive Murals along the Illinois Lincoln Highway National Scenic Byway and its corridor in northern Illinois. The Genoa mural depicts the history, heritage, and events of the highway and its impact on Genoa and the other communities along the Illinois route.
The path begins at Forsyth Village Hall and winds around Forsyth Pkwy.
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!
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.
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.
The bikeway connects three area parks with a 3.2-mile, 10-foot wide, handicapped accessible trail for enjoyment by hikers and bikers alike. Tote along your favorite fixings to enjoy on the trail or designated picnic areas.
The City of Aurora and Zagster, Inc. launched a new bike-share program that will provide Aurora visitors with a convenient, affordable and healthy way to get around town. 18 cruiser bikes are available at three downtown stations for riders to use for on-demand, local trips. Stations are located at RiverEdge Park - 360 Broadway Ave., Aurora City Hall - 44 E. Downer Place and Santori Public Library of Aurora - 101 S. River Street. This initiative creates new opportunities for visitors to experience the Aurora Area from a different vantage point and see it in a whole new light.