3 Days | 42 Miles | in From Local Experts
Make it a summer to remember with a family road trip to the Great Rivers & Routes region of southwest Illinois. Let the kids romp in the water while the adults bask in the sun at riverside water parks. Soar through the treetops along river bluffs and cruise along the Mississippi River in a private pontoon boat. Evenings were made for relaxing at family-friendly breweries and wineries.
Make sure to check with attractions ahead of time for up-to-date operating hours, travel policies and health and safety information.
Start your family adventure in Collinsville at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Center. The interpretive center offers an in-depth look at prehistoric Native American life along the famed American River Bottoms. Stretch your legs with a walk up Monks Mound, the largest Native American mound outside of Mexico. When the weather is clear, a view of downtown St. Louis, just minutes from Collinsville, is visible.
Stop by Willoughby Heritage Farm for a glimpse into farm life in the 1940s. The farm has barnyard animals for the kids as well as an authentic farmhouse tour and barns. Take a hike along the trails that weave through the former farm acreage.
Spend the remainder of your day with the kids at the Collinsville Aqua Park. The kids will enjoy the park’s famed Monsoon Mountain and Aqua Climb Wall while the adults sip on a favorite beverage and relax in the sun.
Hop in the car and head along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway to Alton and be sure to stop and visit a statue of the World’s Tallest Man, Robert Wadlow! Create your own Instagrammable moment with a photo taken beside the bronze statue. How does your family measure up?
Another stop on the scenic byway is the famous Piasa Bird painting located on the limestone bluffs just outside Alton. Stop for photos and a brief history of this legendary dragon-like bird said to haunt the bluffs along the Mississippi River.
Travel along the byway, which hugs the banks of the Mississippi River, from Alton to Grafton for one of the most scenic drives in America. Once in Grafton, stop in at The Loading Dock for lunch and let the kids play lawn games while the adults relax at a table alongside the Mississippi River. A cruise on either the Mississippi or Illinois River is next up. Rent a pontoon boat at Grafton Harbor and set sail on the Mississippi River. The Grafton Harbor Gift Shop is a great place to stock up for the cruise. Once back on dry land, get ready to ride the new Grafton SkyTour from Grafton’s Main Street to the top of the river bluffs nearly 300 feet high. Open-air chair lifts and enclosed gondolas are available. Enjoy one of the best views in the Midwest from Aerie’s Resort at the top of the bluff. Soar over the treetops on Grafton Zipline Adventures – a perfect way to close out this adventure-filled day.
Spend the night at Pere Marquette Lodge & Conference Center. Enjoy a room in the lodge or a cabin adjacent to the historic building. Enjoy a family-style fried chicken dinner at the Pere Marquette Lodge Restaurant.
Rise and shine with breakfast at the Lodge restaurant and then work out on the miles of hiking trails that wind through the park. Scenic views can be found at various lookout points along the trails at the park. Let the kids enjoy some fishing at the catch and release pond located in front of the Pere Marquette Visitor Center.
Explore the park on horseback with a 45-minute guided ride courtesy of Pere Marquette Riding Stables.
Top off your family getaway at Raging Rivers Water Park. The park features a wave pool, lazy river, shark tank and a new water slide. Nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River, the park offers scenic views and endless fun. Rent a private cabana and enjoy the rest of your day.
Spend your last night relaxing at the Pere Marquette Lodge & Conference Center. Let the kids play chess on the life-sized chessboard while the adults enjoy a glass of wine at the adjacent Mary Michelle Winery.