3 Days | 356 Miles | in 1-3 Days
The western part of our state isn’t just a place where many of the Midwest’s mightiest rivers meet. It’s also where you’ll find one-of-a-kind pottery, vintage furniture is reborn, and quilting is elevated from craft to art. So get ready to get crafty as you discover all things made in the Great Rivers Country region of Illinois. And don't forget to drop by some of the can't-miss local attractions.
You’ve arrived in the Quad Cities and your morning is about to get crafty. Visit with Dot and Dan at Dot’s Pots (IM) in Moline, and watch them skillfully operate their pottery wheels. Seeing them create unique clay bowls, plates, and artworks is sure to put a smile on your face, especially if one of those creations ends up beautifying your home.
Just down the street, you’ll find Tim and his team whittling away at Wild Cherry Spoon Co. (IM). In addition to the acclaimed spoons, each chopping board, pizza paddle and baking spatula is handcrafted from repurposed urban wood, ensuring each one has a distinct style of its own.
It’s brunch time. Make your way over to Rock Island for some of the best pancakes in the Quad Cities. The award-winning QC Coffee and Pancake House — and their signature cinnamon roll pancakes — will satisfy all your sweet or savory cravings. If you’re left wanting more, grab a cinnamon roll for the road.
It’s not quite time to move on yet — there’s a storied Illinois attraction you should visit. The John Deere Pavilion is a truly interactive experience. Kids can sit in the cab of some of John Deere’s most well-known and innovative machines, and the whole family can discover a range of informative exhibits. Make sure to stop into the store for some John Deere swag on the way out.
Now that you’re finished in the Quad Cities, a picturesque country landscape beckons. At Tanners Orchard (IM), you’ll find apple trees, pumpkin patches, and a shop selling the tastiest preserves made with homegrown produce. With farm animals, wagon rides, and a playground, everyone will have a chance to stretch their legs and have some fun. The farm is seasonal, so remember to check out its operating hours before you visit.
Get ready for a sweet afternoon in Peoria. At The Nut House (IM), you’ll find much more than peanuts and cashews — their homemade candies, dried fruits, chocolate, and nuts of all varieties will satisfy your snacking cravings for the remainder of the road trip.
As difficult as it may be, you can’t fill up yet. You’re just a quick drive away from Trefzger’s Bakery (IM), where Peorians have been stocking up on bread and pastries for over 160 years. Each month you can find baked goods in new and seasonal flavors, plus wheat-free and vegan options to suit everyone’s palate.
Get some fresh air as you walk along the scenic shores of the Illinois River, then head over to the Riverfront Museum. As you meander your way through their exhibits, you’ll gain knowledge about the history of Illinois, experience interactive art galleries, and even get a glimpse of far-off galaxies at the planetarium.
Feeling hungry after your day-long excursion? You’re not far away from Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery and Eatery (IM). Set inside a restored 1889 church, you can enjoy upscale pub fare and locally brewed beer. Plus, not only do they have a kid-friendly bocce and beer garden, they’ll even provide treats for your pet if you’re traveling with furry friends.
Not quite done for the day? Grab a drink and kick back at the family-owned Kouri’s Pub. With over 20 big screen TVs and an all-seasons patio, you’ll enjoy a lively atmosphere and plenty of entertainment.
You’ve earned a comfortable night’s sleep. If you feel like staying in the heart of Peoria, check in to the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette. This refurbished, historic building has been restored to its former grandeur, with no shortage of convenient modern amenities.
If you love those riverfront views, get a room at the Embassy Suites - East Peoria. You’ll find all the comforts of home, plus you’re within walking distance of a number of restaurants and shops.
Wake up and follow your nose to the smell of roasting coffee emanating from thirty-thirty Coffee Co. (IM). This inviting downtown shop sources a diverse array of beans from regions around the world, then coaxes out unique flavors by roasting them to perfection. Not a coffee person? You’ll love their selection of loose-leaf tea and fresh fruit smoothies.
With your beverage in hand, venture over to Riley’s Vegan Sweets and Eats (IM) — Peoria’s first 100% vegan bakery. Activate your sweet tooth with a breakfast donut or cinnamon roll, and savor it as you plan for the day’s adventures.
If you’re in the mood to see ingenuity at work, stop off at Whiskey City Salvage (IM). This talented team rescues and restores furniture and furnishings from buildings destined for demolition, and there’s a solid chance you’ll find a handsome new conversation piece for your home.
Break up the lengthy drive to Grafton with a leisurely break in Jacksonville, where you’ll discover a combination of art, heritage and history on their Downtown Mural Walk. Stroll the streets while you gaze at the historic murals, which were hand-painted by artists from across the globe. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, pop into Elm City Roastery & Juice Bar for a snack, juice or coffee.
When you arrive at Grafton Winery and Brewhouse (IM), you’ll know you’ve found the ideal spot to revel in the splendor of the mighty Mississippi. Overlooking the convergence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, it’s the perfect spot to reflect on your travels over a late lunch and a locally made wine or beer. In addition to traditional varieties, the winery produces a range of fruit wines, including peach, raspberry and strawberry watermelon.
If you look to the right from the balcony, you can probably see Pere Marquette State Park. The largest state park in Illinois offers a wonderful opportunity to traverse wooded hiking trails, search for wildlife, or even spot a bald eagle or two (especially in January and February). For a real adrenaline rush, head to Grafton Zipline Adventures and embark on a tree-top adventure for the ages.
It’s time to indulge yourself after all that activity, and My Just Desserts (IM) in Alton is the place to do it. Every day, their kitchen staff bakes over 10 different kinds of pie, resulting in a mouthwatering selection of always-changing flavors. If you’re still full from lunch, grab something to snack on later.
This region of Illinois is teeming with history, particularly the Civil War period. In various Alton locations, you can still find remnants of the famous Underground Railroad network that helped many escaped slaves on their path to freedom. Book a shuttle tour with J. E. Robinson to experience part of that frightening, exhilarating journey of hope.
Head back into downtown Alton for a distinctly Illinois experience. The Old Bakery Beer Company (IM) is aptly named because — you guessed it — they brew their unique organic beer in a historic bakery building. The tappers, made from antique rolling pins, pour a range of tasty, rotating brews. Pair a local beer with a sandwich from their seasonal menu, or enjoy one of their daily specials.
After an action-packed day, you’ll be ready to relax at the Best Western Premier-Alton. Soak in the heated, indoor pool, or unwind in your room while you post photos of your adventures (always using #EnjoyIllinois, of course).
Sleep in and start the day at your own pace — you deserve it. After the sweet aromas of your hotel breakfast, get ready for the sweeter smells of Water Sweets Soap Company (IM), a charming local shop in nearby Edwardsville. All their handmade soaps and bath products are made with local ingredients, and if you buy some to bring home, you’re sure to notice the difference.
Vacation is a time to treat yourself, and at Kruta Bakery (IM) in Collinsville you can do just that. This fourth-generation business has been serving Eastern European treats to the community since 1919. Nibble on a danish, pastry or pie, then stock up for the drive home.
If the family is still glowing from your earlier visit to the orchard, spark some more family fun at Eckert’s Country Store and Farm (IM). Pick fresh, in-season fruit and vegetables, or check ahead to see if they’re hosting any events. From murder mystery dinners and cooking classes to seasonal festivals, there are plenty of exciting happenings throughout the year.
If you’re feeling crafty, head back towards the river to visit Warm N Cozy Quilting (IM). They carry an incredible variety of fabrics, and can offer assistance on your sewing, patchwork or quilting project.
Just down the road you’ll find Stumpy’s Spirits Distillery (IM). This family does what most distillers can’t, which is grow all their own grains on the farm they’ve owned for eight generations. Be sure to book your distillery tour and tasting in advance.
On your way home, why not stop for lunch in another celebrated historic building? The Post Commons resides in Alton’s grand former post office, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the relaxed atmosphere that greets you within the imposing architecture. Enjoy freshly roasted coffee and their all-day breakfast menu before departing.