For an unforgettable stay in Illinois, explore diverse landscapes and rich history in beautiful Great Rivers Country.
Travel through the region via the Great River Road, a National Scenic Byway that hugs the Mississippi River for 885 kilometers from East Dubuque to Cairo. Selected as one of National Geographic’s “500 Drives of a Lifetime,” the Great River Road delivers relaxing getaways, lively festivals, outdoor adventures and thousands of years of history along the way.
Main Streets, Parks and Riverboats
Begin your journey in the charming town of Galena, where a visit down Main Street will take you back in time to when President Ulysses S. Grant lived here. Tour President Grant’s home, a National Historic Site, before reveling in the town’s boutique shops, farm-to-table restaurants, wineries and breweries (take a hot air balloon ride to enjoy it all from above).
Stop along the towering bluffs at Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savanna for stunning views of the Mississippi River. Down the road, De Immigrant Windmill stands tall above the river in the city of Fulton. At the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, sit in a giant combine, try one of the cutting edge simulators, and celebrate the farming pioneer’s inventive spirit. Board the Celebration Belle riverboat, with its authentic paddle wheel, to hear tales of the mighty Mississippi while you cruise it.
One Eleven Main restaurant in Galena
Historic Landmarks & Outdoor Recreation
Visiting Nauvoo is a journey back in time. Noted as a National Historic Landmark community and home to a rebuilt Mormon Temple, Nauvoo has over 60 restored historic buildings. Time your visit to coincide with the Nauvoo Pageant in July, featuring an outdoor musical play and family-friendly events. Journey on to Quincy and try an original Maid-Rite sandwich. Rent a bike and pedal the Dogwood Trail before exploring the East End Historic District, where you can see nearly 500 historic buildings built from 1830-1930.
Further south, you’ll find Grafton and Pere Marquette State Park, studded with bike trails and offering everything from fishing to camping to horseback riding along the Illinois River. Visitors can hike the limestone bluffs, rock climb or look for the bald eagles that converge here.
The Quincy Museum, which is housed in the Historic Newcomb-Stillwell Mansion
The River Life
In Alton, see the confluence of three rivers – the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois – and travel the 53 picturesque kilometers of the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway. At Melvin Price Locks and Dam, you can see barges going up and down the river and steer a virtual barge at the National Great Rivers Museum. Follow the footsteps of Lewis and Clark where they set off on their westward journey to the Pacific at Lewis and Clark State Historic Site. The area celebrates the Lewis and Clark Point of Departure in May, reenacting the event from Camp River Dubois. In Collinsville, explore the largest prehistoric city north of Mexico at Cahokia Mounds and walk to the top of Monks Mound at this United Nations World Heritage Site.
A bald eagle on the banks of the Mississippi River