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Upcycled Overnights & Eco-Friendly Stays

Jun 21, 2023 Regional Getaways

House in a forest

Eco-friendly stays are becoming a primary go-to for world-conscious travelers.

As such, many resorts and lodgings are employing sustainable methods and mixing natural living with classic amenities in order to help guests reduce their carbon footprint while retaining all the luxury they crave. Since one-of-a-kind lodgings in reimagined structures intrigue guests with a creative stay and a local connection, here are 10 upcycled overnight hotspots and eco-friendly destinations to book for your next low-impact travel plans.

The exterior of a tree house

Bright Sunrises

Discover repurposed habitats where sunrises are at their most glorious.

Grain Bin, Alvin

Formerly used to store grain on this working Alvin farm, The Has Bin Guest House now nestles people. Freshly made baked goods comfort guests, as do a sleeping loft and a claw-foot tub/shower. 

Tree houses, Shawnee Forest Country

Perch in a tree house near Elizabethtown close to Shawnee National Forest, with the added luxuries of air-conditioning and indoor plumbing, at Timber Ridge Outpost and Cabins. Fill the day with hiking, fishing, birding, grabbing ice cream from the Outpost or simply relaxing. Inspired by a zipline platform, the handcrafted Ten Acre Treehouses provide an off-the-grid stay in Nauvoo. Come back down to earth by walking the trails weaving around this 28-acre property.

Hobbit Houses, Makanda

Two earthen shelter cabins with living grass roofs are known as Rocky Comfort Cabins in Makanda. Hobbit-style features include round windows and doors, and sun tunnels light the bath and living areas. Walk five minutes to Blue Sky Vineyard.

A hobbit house

Train cabooses, Peoria

At Peoria’s Wildlife Prairie Park, three renovated red Santa Fe Cabooses delight train enthusiasts of all ages. Each caboose sleeps up to five, and upgrades include creature comforts like a TV, full bathroom, mini fridge and coffee maker. The park has more than 150 animals and 25 miles of hiking trails.   

Jailhouse, Galena

The former Jo Daviess County Jail (built in 1878) now houses six luxurious and spacious three-room suites and welcomes those seeking a posh stay at Jail Hill Inn. Days begin with a three-course breakfast and finish strong with a wine and cheese reception. 

Schoolhouse, Anna

When booking a classroom-size suite at the Davie School Inn, select a room theme according to a school subject, like math or American history. Extracurricular activities include antiquing in and around Anna, plus hiking, biking and traveling Shawnee Hills National Forest and a wine trail.

Monastery, Chicago

Discover peace within the Windy City’s bustle. At Monastery of the Holy Cross Guesthouse, simple accommodations welcome all “travelers and pilgrims,” with only a humble suggested donation named for those able to pay. Take advantage of free off-street parking.

Resurrected and Renovated Hotels, Chicago

Many hotels across the state have been renovated and repurposed from existing structures such as the LondonHouse Chicago, Virgin Hotels, the Kimpton Gray Hotel, the Pendry and the SoHo House - all of which lived former lives as historic office buildings.

Another example would be The Robey, which was originally the Northwest Tower, inhabiting one of the first skyscrapers built outside of downtown in the nearby Wicker Park neighborhood. Additionally, The Cambria Hotel occupies the same building as the James M. Nederlander Theatre, an edifice on the National Register of Historic Places.

House and trees

Night Skies

Stay where the stars are the main event.

Camp Aramoni, Tonica

This is where cozy and luxury are inextricably intertwined. Expansive safari-style tents with soft beds covered in luxury linens invite comfortable nights beneath the stars. Cook gourmet s’mores at your private bonfire while the cool breeze brought by the nearby Vermilion River stokes the flames.

Kinnikinnick Farm, Caledonia

The family behind this farmstead is passionate about providing a weekend of serenity for guests of the popular farm-stay program. Kids collect eggs, feed chickens and pigs, and milk goats. Adults master the fine art of unwinding and brewing morning coffee over a woodstove while the kids do the farm chores.

Middle Fork River Forest Preserve, Penfield

By day, this is an outdoor wonderland, where wildflowers abound on restored prairies. By night, this is the first International Dark Sky Park designated in Illinois. Gather around the campfire at the Harry L. Swartz Campground to experience the enduring sparkle of a sky untouched by city lights.

Makanda Inn & Cottages

Once you’ve explored Shawnee National Forest, spend a night at the Makanda Inn & Cottages. Utilizing natural building materials such as straw bales, recycled plastic roofing and reclaimed wood, the inn has a focus on energy conservation. These materials give the buildings a uniquely organic ambiance, perfect for continuing your escape from the man-made and mass-produced. With affordable rates and a perfect 5.0 rating on TripAdvisor, Makanda Inn is one of the most popular eco-friendly hotels in the region.

a house with chairs and fire-pit outside

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