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In the early 1800s, Alton became a safe haven for slaves escaping from the bonds of slavery. Because of the area's neighboring slave state of Missouri, runaways found refuge in the free land surrounding Alton. The tunnels of the Underground Railroad run deep beneath the streets along the "Alton Route." The area was a major stop along the Underground Railroad, hiding slaves in caves, barns and basements throughout Alton, Otterville and Jerseyville. Hear the slave's tales, feel their fear and learn about Alton's remarkable past on an Underground Railroad Tour. Tours available by appointment only.
Located adjacent to the Melvin Price Locks and Dam, this museum is dedicated to telling the story of the Mississippi River, from its colorful history to its modern-day role as a major transportation corridor. The museum features kid-friendly, interactive and computer animated exhibits. Steer a towboat through the locks and dam via simulator, measure your water consumption or come face-to-face with river fish in the aquarium. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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.
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.
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.
Relax, reflect and unwind in this private guest house that is a turn-of-the-century cottage completely restored with modern amenities. Located high above the confluence of the Mississippi & Illinois Rivers, it offers a quiet retreat with a spectacular view, yet it is only one block from village shops, marina, restaurants, bike trails and the scenic byway.
Noted in Midwest Living magazine as "a riverside retreat for the romantic," Tara Point Inn is known for its incredible accommodations and breathtaking views of the Mississippi River. Atop the palisades bluffs above Grafton, visitors can choose either the main inn or a secluded cozy cabin escape to what some call the most pleasantly memorable getaway experiences in the Midwest.
Illinois' only United Nations World Heritage Site. This 2,200-acre site preserves the central section of the largest prehistoric Indian city north of Mexico. An Interpretive Center presents a coherent account of this sophisticated prehistoric culture. Climb Monk's Mound, see the film and life-size village. Don't miss annual events that focus on Native American culture.
Based on the book Haunted Alton by Troy Taylor, Alton Hauntings Tours offers an entertaining and spine-tingling trip into the unknown, taking visitors to the most authentic haunted places in Alton. Uncover the eerie folklore, ghostly tales and documented haunted spots on a three-hour walking tour of the city’s most haunted sites. Visitors will see sites that have become nationally known, like the old Alton penitentiary, First Unitarian Church, Enos Sanitarium and many others. The tours have been proven to be popular with ghost enthusiasts and history buffs alike, and nowhere else can you learn as much about the real, haunted history of Alton. Walking tours and bus tours are offered during two touring seasons – Spring & Summer and the Haunted Fall Season. Private tours are also available for groups of 20 or more. Reservations must be made in advance for all tours.
At 8,000 acres, Pere Marquette State Park is the largest state park in Illinois. Go hiking on wooded trails, biking along scenic bluffs, fishing and boating on the Illinois River, or horseback riding through the forest. The park is also known for its guided fall color drives and eagle-watching tours in the winter. The rustic stone-and-timber Pere Marquette Lodge makes a great base for exploring the area.
Looking for a jaw dropping, heart racing experience? Try Grafton’s newest attraction – a zip line that affords those brave enough a stunning river view and hours of fun. The nine zip lines total 1.75 miles, which should take approximately two hours to complete. The first of nine zip lines is nicknamed the Baby Bear – the shortest measuring only 300 feet in length. The longest, at 2,000 feet, is the Soaring Eagle, which has breathtaking views during its 250-foot descent. The Deer Hollow (3rd zip) and the Barn Burner (the final zip) are both 1,500 feet. The Limestone Leap (7th zip) is 1,300 feet, the River Run (5th zip) is 1,200 feet, the Gobblers Knob (6th zip) is 1,000 feet and the Road Runner (2nd zip) at 700 feet.
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.