Trails and Ales

Fresh air and fresh brews abound in equal measure in the historic stretch from suburban Chicago to Starved Rock State Park. Go play outside, then relax with a drink nearby.

in Eat & Drink, Activities
April 07, 2020

| words

Fresh air and fresh brews abound in equal measure in the historic stretch from suburban Chicago to Starved Rock State Park. Go play outside, then relax with a drink nearby.

Matthiessen State Park, Oglesby

Wear sturdy footwear for scrambling up and down hundreds of steps to explore the drippy gorges, creeks and falls of this park, rich in geologic strata. Nine miles of marked mountain bike trails also snake through the woods. 

13 miles to... 

Tangled Roots Brewing Company, Ottawa

Find a farm-to-foam experience at the industrial-chic taproom, featuring gleaming copper brew kettles. Lagers and ales include River Raptor Pale Ale, a hoppy homage to the eagles that live in the area.

Starved Rock State Park, Oglesby

Along 13 miles of (extremely popular) trails, find layered canyons and towering tree lines. Don’t let a little rain deter you—the park’s dozen-plus waterfalls flow best after storms or in spring when snow is melting.

14 miles to...

Red Dog Grill, Ottawa

On a patio overlooking an Illinois River marina, sample sips from local Radium City Brewing, specializing in pale ales. If you need to cool off, the soaring-ceilinged bar offers the same serene views. Snack on a warm pretzel with beer cheese dip.

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Wilmington

Paths great for hiking and biking wind through this former U.S. Army arsenal now being restored to a native prairie. You might spot the area’s bison herd. Ask at the visitors center for a hint at where the creatures have been spotted. 

7 miles to...

Hickory Creek Brewing Company, New Lenox

Last summer, a retired engineer brought his brewing hobby out of an old milk house and into a storefront in this far-south Chicago suburb. Try inaugural brews, including a smoky, bourbon-esque porter called Whack the Beaver.  

Hidden Oaks Conservation Area, Bolingbrook

Trails throughout this 15-acre nature sanctuary wind past a trout pond (an on-site shop sells licenses and bait), beehives, wildflowers, sculptures and more. If you need a rest, chill on 
the nature center’s rooftop deck.

10 miles to...

Pollyanna Brewing Company, Lemont

Live events—like music bingo, trivia and food-truck rallies—energize most summer nights. Taste The Full Lemonty, a crisp golden ale, and tour the brewery to see experiments
with local fruits and spices.

I&M Canal Trail

This state trail runs for 96 miles along the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal towpath, with sections alternately paved or groomed with crushed limestone. The flat, easy 11 miles between Lockport and Joliet take you past the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site.

11 miles to...

Elder Brewing Company, Joliet

The cozy downtown spot offers free popcorn and a 1982 Millipede arcade game (also free) to enjoy with Uncle Jack’s Gris Gris, an IPA, or Poly’s Revenge, an American pale ale. Check out bands in the new music room.

Love the Story?
Save to Favorites Remove from Favorites

Related Reads:

Quirky Quarters: Offbeat Places to Stay in Illinois

Quirky Quarters: Offbeat Places to Stay in Illinois
in Regional GetawaysActivities

Find quirky places to stay in Illinois, from treehouses to yurt villages to a sc...

The Galena Wine Experience

The Galena Wine Experience
in Eat & DrinkRegional GetawaysWine Makers

Roll up your pant legs and be prepared for purple feet while stomping grapes. Wi...

Are There Mountains in Illinois?

Are There Mountains in Illinois?
in OutdoorsActivities

Discover the best places to find elevated adventures in Illinois and see the spe...

Enjoy Illinois Magazine

Enjoy Illinois Magazine

Find unexpected ways to enjoy Illinois in this biannual magazine that explores every corner of the state. Each issue offers a mix of travel stories, stunning photography and timely trip ideas that make the most of each season.

Order a Copy

Order a copy of Enjoy Illinois and also receive the Illinois State Park Guide and an Official Highway Map.

Order Print Version
Grab a Digital Copy

Read Enjoy Illinois magazine online or download the PDF and start exploring trip ideas around Illinois.

View it Online Download PDF

Send me Enjoy Illinois Magazine

Get inspired by top travel stories, and discover even more reasons to #EnjoyIllinois.

Order a Copy!