9 Surprising Things To Do This Presidents Day Weekend

Presidents Day weekend is a time to celebrate great U.S. presidents and there’s no better way to honor them than by enjoying their favorite hobbies – Great Rivers & Routes style.

Here is a list of 10 different ways to learn about our nation’s leaders and enjoy your time off in the Great Rivers & Routes region of southwest Illinois.

photo by Party on Broadway

1. Paint Something

George W. Bush, after retiring from the presidency, developed an interesting hobby— painting! Dwight D. Eisenhower was also a fan of taking paint brush to canvas and painting landscapes.

We know not everyone can be so artistically inclined, which is why we think Party on Broadway in Alton is the perfect place to go this year to celebrate these two past presidents. Here you can paint simple wood projects or take a traditional approach and paint on canvas, you might end up loving this hobby that our presidents seem to enjoy so much!

MCT Trails

2. Hit the Trail

If painting is definitely not your thing but George W. Bush is your president of choice, then maybe you will enjoy another one of his hobbies— running. Both George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter were avid runners. George ran the Houston marathon in 3 hours and 44 minutes and Jimmy Carter ran cross country at the U.S. Naval Academy. This Presidents Day weekend take off on the Madison County Trails and see how beautiful nature really is in southwest Illinois.

3. Go Bowling

Not all of us love to get out and run but we still enjoy being active. Richard Nixon and Harry Truman seemingly felt the same about their sport of choice— bowling. Both of these presidents added bowling alleys to the White House. Enjoy an indoor sport and stay warm this year. You have your choice of Camelot Bowl in Collinsville, Litchfield Bowling Alley in Litchfield, and Bowl Haven Lanes in Alton would be perfect spots for any person this Presidents Day weekend to have a little fun.

Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway between Alton and Grafton, IL

5. Road Trip

If nature is your thing, take a road trip this Presidents Day weekend up the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway. Teddy Roosevelt loved nature—he did, after all, oversee the creation of many of our nation’s national parks. Get lost this Presidents Day weekend and travel along the great Mississippi River to Pere Marquette State Park and enjoy nature at its finest. While you are lost nature, honor Franklin D. Roosevelt and stay at Pere Marquette Lodge & Conference Center, which was built by FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps.

Route 66 Creamery, Hamel

7. Enjoy Good Food

Ice cream may not be for everyone, but food is! Thomas Jefferson may have loved ice cream, but he also loved French wine and food! Head on over to Bossanova in Alton, or Bella Vista Winery in Maryville, get some French wine and great food.

8. Visit Historical Sites

History buffs can also honor our presidents and dive into the history of their work in southwest Illinois. Take the Civil War History Tour and go on an adventure through Lincoln’s legacy this Presidents Day weekend. You can also learn about the expedition that Thomas Jefferson commissioned for Lewis and Clark. Start the journey with them at Camp Dubois and the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site in Hartford.

Pies from My Just Desserts in Alton, IL

9. Dessert

A list about ways to honor our presidents, both past and present, would not be complete without honoring our first president, George Washington! Did you know the most famous story of that chopped down cherry tree is a myth? That does not mean that we cannot indulge the myth by picking up some radical cherry pie or desserts at My Just Desserts in Alton or Jubelt's Bakery and Restaurant in Litchfield.