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Old 03-11-2021, 03:58 PM
 
Location: NW Seattle
3,534 posts, read 1,830,947 times
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So I grew up in Chicagoland, but I never had my own car while living there, and family all lived east in IN, so I've never gotten to see much of my own home state --- it's always been a bit of a sore spot of mine. However, I recently found out that my partner and I are among the lucky ones who will be getting a vaccine early, since a pharmacy near us just happened to have extra doses. I've been dying to get out somewhere, so I was thinking we could take a few days, maybe fly into St. Louis or Des Moines and take a meandering route to Chicago. This would be in May or June.

What are some cool things to see in IL outside Chicagoland, maybe places that aren't touristy but have interesting history? I'm imagining, like, the house museum belonging to an eccentric and controversial 1920s millionaire, or an old company town, or a brewery or restaurant that has some kind of national renown, or even just a neighborhood somewhere with an unusual architectural style or layout. Would be cool if any of the big downstate companies (Cat, ADM) gave some kind of tour, although of course that might not be open yet. Places generally in the western part of the state (Quad Cities, Peoria) are preferred but anywhere is fine. Thanks!
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Old 03-13-2021, 08:57 AM
 
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Some ideas:

*Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savanna (wonderful views of the river)
*Just driving down along the Mississippi is a sight to behold. You can stop in places like Alton (Lincoln-Douglas debate history, for example).
*Quincy, IL if you like old buildings that still have some life in them (both downtown buildings and residential neighborhood homes)
*Bishop Hill, IL (an old Swedish settlement that is tiny but picturesque)
*Peoria is underrated in my book. It's very old, kind of hilly, it has a river (you can take a riverboat tour), museums, some good indie coffee places, a bakery (Trefzger's) from the 1800s, and the fascinating Wheels O' Time museum in suburban Dunlap. There is a CAT museum. Drive up Grandview Drive and stop to walk and look out at the land in the distance.
*Ottawa and LaSalle are river towns with mansions to tour, the very cool towpath along the I & M Canal for walking/running/biking, and state parks nearby.
*Rockford has lots of history, a great Friday night market, the in-depth Midway Village Museum, Stockholm Inn for local food, the Anderson Japanese Gardens, and more.
*Sycamore is an attractive small town not far from Chicagoland. They have a history museum and, more importantly, some fine old houses and a real downtown.
*Nauvoo is interesting if you like history. It also has hills, the state's oldest winery, and other non-LDS attractions if you care not to partake in the many Mormon attractions.
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Old 03-13-2021, 10:59 AM
 
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There are a lot of old quarries southwest of Joliet in the Braidwood/Coal City area. Many have filled in with water and they are something of a watersports attraction. The way they were mined some are very long.

The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie also outside Joliet is the largest area of pristine tallgrass prairie in the region. It was kept that way because it was formerly the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, and fell into a long period of benign neglect when the plant was shut down. There is a herd of bison there that is growing naturally.

There is also a herd of bison at Fermilab outside Batavia. Fermilab is an interesting destination in itself.

If you're not confined to Illinois, Dubuque, Iowa is a historic river city in the Driftless area north of the Quad Cities. It's very hillly and there is a small funicular railway there.
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Old 03-15-2021, 07:40 AM
 
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I live in Peoria, my favorite places here are Jubilee College and the nearby state park
https://www2.illinois.gov/dnrhistori...e-College.aspx
and Wildlife Prairie park
https://wildlifeprairiepark.org/
the Grandview Drive is definitely worth it it check too if you are in the area.
In other parts of IL Peru/La Salle has really nice parks around, or the Lowden State Park has a beautiful statue near Oregon
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Old 03-15-2021, 10:59 AM
 
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I'll second the Oregon area:
https://cityoforegon.org/category/vi...istoric-sites/
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Old 03-15-2021, 07:44 PM
 
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And I will third the Oregon area.
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Old 03-17-2021, 10:20 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
581 posts, read 485,093 times
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Further south, but anyway...

Make the drive from Alton to Grafton, and then take the free ferry into Calhoun County. Alton has Old Bakery Brewing, Fast Eddies, the Great Rivers Museum, Robert Wadlow, and the Piasa Bird.

The drive to Calhoun (IL Rt 100 - "River Road") is an attraction by itself. Drive through the Elsah historic district. Grab a meal on the water at the Loading Dock in Grafton or ride the gondola up the bluffs to Aerie's winery. Visit the orchards at Eckerts. The scenic drive and hiking in Pere Marquette State Park are also top notch for the Midwest.
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Old 03-18-2021, 03:42 PM
 
Location: 1 MILE FROM THE BIG MISS
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"What are some cool things to see in IL outside Chicagoland, maybe places that aren't touristy but have interesting history? I'm imagining, like, the house museum belonging to an eccentric and controversial 1920s millionaire, or an old company town, or a brewery or restaurant that has some kind of national renown, or even just a neighborhood somewhere with an unusual architectural style or layout. Would be cool if any of the big downstate companies (Cat, ADM) gave some kind of tour, although of course that might not be open yet. Places generally in the western part of the state (Quad Cities, Peoria) are preferred but anywhere is fine. Thanks!"


A place you might check is called "House on the Rock." The location is Spring Green, WI, west of Madison. House on the Rock is known out here but as a Chicagoan in the 1970s, I never heard of it, despite the Dells and/or Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright built one of his "Taliesin" Homes in Spring Green. Wisconsin Taliesin has a sad history. House on the Rock was built by an eccentric Man who decided to make his home on a rock cliff. Then he stacked the property full of odd items. The property is now a "Museum" and the result is a collection of interconnected buildings. When I first went there in 1991, it was still a quiet place with small attendance. My wife and I have been back a number of times and each time the crowd is bigger.
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Old 03-18-2021, 06:13 PM
 
40 posts, read 15,230 times
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I haven't been to Galena in a long time, but it's supposedly very happening these days. The home of Ulysses S. Grant is there.

[url]https://www.visitgalena.org/[/url]

You could also try driving Route 66. They claim a place in Springfield was where the corn dog was invented.
[url]https://www.enjoyillinois.com/plan-your-trip/trip-ideas/view/route-66[/url]

East St. Louis has a geyser that shoots water as high as the famed Gateway Arch across the river.
[url]https://www.theparkwithaview.com/gatewaygeyser[/url]

But water isn't the only thing shooting there (it also has a high crime rate, in some years the worst in the USA).
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