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Small Towns Big Creativity

Outdoors & Regional

2 Days 300 Miles


Kankakee County, Tuscola, Sullivan, Arcola, Casey, Palestine, Effingham

experience makers who capture Illinois’ sophistication & charm

Our state is home to so many idyllic small communities.

These special places are home to Illinois makers who are turning reclaimed items into art, locally grown produce into award-winning meals, and expanding the world of wine. Discover these eclectic makers, and don’t forget to drop by some of the can’t-miss local attractions.

Day 1:

Kankakee County, Tuscola, Sullivan, Arcola

  • Exterior of Homestead Bakery surrounded by flowers and greenery.

If you’re journeying south from the Chicago area, stop by Locavore Farm (IM) for true farm-to-table goodness. Enjoy a taste of the slow life at Locavore’s General Store before picking up some fresh produce for the road.

When you have savory sliders, grilled cheese and a wide selection of gourmet sandwiches to choose from, lunch at Hoppy Pig will be a tough choice. If you’d like a cold beer to accompany your meal, they have dozens of craft options to choose from, many of them local. 

Experience more of the rural lifestyle as you continue south to Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery (IM). Give the friendly goats a pet, then check out their tasty food offerings, which include charcuterie and even goat milk gelato. 

Head to Danville and you’ll find the picturesque Sleepy Creek Vineyards (IM). Relax with a tasting flight made onsite from fresh grapes, or take a few bottles with you on your journey.  The sweet flavor tour continues at Flesor’s Candy Kitchen (IM) in Tuscola, where the founder’s granddaughters carry on a nearly 100-year tradition of making confectioneries using original recipes handed down over generations. 

Take a stroll through downtown Arcola before hitting up The One and Only Hippie Memorial, the Sweeping Beauties Broom Art display and the Walldog Murals. Make sure to wander down Main Street to explore what all the dealers have on offer in Emporium Antique—a treasure trove of one-of-a-kind finds and artifacts.  

That feeling of stepping back in time will continue as you embrace Amish Country. Stop at The Homestead Bakery (IM) for some traditional Amish baked goods and preserves, made from scratch at this historic farm. If you’re visiting in Fall, do yourself a favor and explore The Great Pumpkin Patch (IM), which boasts over 300 varieties. 

A traditional Amish cooked dinner at Yoder’s Kitchen sounds like an apropos choice. You’ll find a nice selection of sandwiches and country-style mains on the menu, but if you’re feeling truly hungry, you should consider Yoder’s Dinner Buffet—a wonderful variety of made-from-scratch dishes that smell and taste like they’re straight out of Grandma’s kitchen. 

Art, culture and history come together in Sullivan at The Little Theater on the Square, where audiences have watched local companies perform Broadway shows since 1957. If you plan to take in one of their unique performances, make sure to check ahead and purchase tickets in advance if possible.

Rest for the night at the Quality Inn Arcola, or a little bit further up the road, book a room with the Holiday Inn Express Tuscola.

Day 2:

Casey, Palestine, Effingham

  • An assortment of trifles at Firefly Grill Restaurant.

Today, you’ll get a true sense of why Illinois is known as the Land of Lincoln. See the Lincoln Log Cabin in Lerna—the former home of Abraham’s parents shares a site with Sargent Farm, which offers a fascinating look at rural life in the 1840s.

It’d be a shame to drive through the area without stopping in Casey, home of the “world’s largest everything.” The town is home to the world’s-largest versions of everyday items like a mailbox, windchimes, baseball bat, rocking horse and even functional knitting needles. 

If you can see the Big Pencil while you’re wandering through town, then you’ve found Casey Coffee Company and today’s lunch destination. Get a caffeine boost from their delicious coffee and ask about their daily lunch specials—their creative flatbreads are sure to hit the spot. Or try Greathouse of Pizza, which is known to have one of the best pies south of Chicago. You’ll find them next to the world’s largest pizza slicer! 

Did we mention you should save room for dessert? Just around the corner, you’ll find yourself at Wildflour Bakery and Candy Company (IM), also home to the world’s largest pair of wooden shoes. Take your pick from their selection of housemade pies, cookies, desserts and sweet treats. 

Head down Palestine’s Main Street for even more art and culture. Local artist Steve Meadows (IM) has created a range of whimsical sculptures from everyday discarded items, proving that one person’s trash is another’s artwork. Be sure to visit Steve’s gallery so see the full scope of his collection. 

Next, taste a piece of history at Mullen’s Salad Dressing’s (IM), where sauces have been made since founder John Mullen returned from Europe. John served as an army cook in France, picking up some local tips and recipes that have helped make his French dressing locally famous.

Fans of the culinary arts simply must visit John Boos & Co. (IM), one of the pioneers of the cutting-block industry dating back to 1887. Check out the impeccable craftsmanship that makes these products common in five-star restaurants around the world, and perhaps pick up a new staple for your kitchen. 

Now that cooking is on the mind, why not stop for dinner? You can start by relaxing with a locally made vino at Tuscan Hills Winery (IM), where craft beer lovers will find plenty on tap as well. Sample a charcuterie board, or tuck into some delicious pizza and flatbreads in a beautiful Italian-themed atmosphere. Firefly Grill (IM) is another wonderful local option, especially if you're a fan of “farm fresh.” The perfect blend of rustic charm and understated elegance, this modern eatery sources all its ingredients from local farmers, as well as its own on-site organic garden.

What an adventure. When you’re ready for a rest, check into the Holiday Inn Effingham. You’ll have the option to enjoy a dip in the heated indoor pool or spa before bedtime.

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