Fall Travel in Southwest Illinois
Planning your next fall vacation? You’ll find plenty of things to do throughout the Great Rivers & Routes region in southwest Illinois this autumn.
Take a wagon ride out into the fields to pick apples or hunt for the perfect pumpkin. Or, simply stroll the streets of our river towns shopping, dining and enjoying the local flavor at unique fall festivals.
This is the place to be for a great fall weekend getaway with scenic beauty, fiery fall colors and great festivals all autumn long. Visit the riverfront communities of Alton, Grafton, Godfrey and Elsah or the Route 66 attractions in Litchfield, Carlinville, Livingston, Collinsville and Edwardsville and enjoy:
- Beautiful fall color drives
- Relaxing wineries
- Family adventures including a seven-acre corn maze and a zip line
- Numerous overlooks of amazing fall colors along the Mississippi River
With the crunch of leaves underfoot, visitors can also wind their way along hiking and biking trails to enjoy the surroundings of the nature preserves and parks along the byway.
By mid-October, the luscious greens of summer will vanish, making way for the luminous hues of fall, rippling across the trees in shades of yellow, orange and red.
Fall Colors 2021
Leaves are changing colors throughout the region. This information will be updated regularly.
Color Change: 50%
Peak Foliage Dates for 2011 – 2020
Year Peak Dates (Week)
• 2020 Nov. 4 – 8
• 2019 Nov. 2 – 7
• 2018 Nov. 5 – 10
• 2017 Nov. 4 – 9
• 2016 Oct. 30 – Nov. 5
• 2015 Oct. 25 – Oct. 31
• 2014 Oct. 26 – Nov. 1
• 2013 Nov. 3 – Nov. 9
• 2012 Oct. 28 – Nov. 3
• 2011 Oct. 23 – Oct. 29
Three Scenic Fall Drives to Take Your Breath Away
1. Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway
If you want to experience a beautiful fall color drive on one of the best scenic drives in the US, the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway from Alton to Grafton is a must. This is the road most traveled heading west on the Great River Road from Alton to Elsah, Grafton and Pere Marquette State Park and back. The average weekend warrior takes this drive because it is the easiest run to remember, but it has the heaviest traffic on Autumn Saturdays and Sundays.
Length: 80 miles roundtrip (approximately 1 hour, 42 minutes)
Directions: Click Here
2. US 67 Country Loop
We consider this to be the best country day drive in the state of Illinois. Enter anywhere along this loop, but remember: drive counter clockwise and see the Scenic Byway by driving downriver – the view of the bluffs is the absolute best.
Length: 90.4 miles (approximately 2 hours, 14 minutes)
Directions: Click Here
3. Calhoun County Vistas & Ferries Loop
Rolling hills, winding roads, orchards and riverboat ferries create the perfect scenery for a peaceful drive through Calhoun County. If you began the loop at the Golden Eagle Ferry, simply cross the Brussels Ferry back into Calhoun County to access the ferry and return to Missouri.
Length: 63.1 miles (approximately 1 hour, 36 minutes)
Directions: Click Here
Spend the Night at B&Bs & Guest Houses
When you're in town, spend the night at two of the best bed & breakfast inns in the state of Illinois – the Beall Mansion and the Tara Point Inn. Both places offer stunning views of fall colors.
Located on “Millionaire’s Row” in Alton, it was voted “Illinois’ Best Bed & Breakfast” by Illinois Magazine. This elegant bed & breakfast, with eleven and a half foot ceilings and rooms adorned in antiques and marble bronze, was once the private residence of Senator Edmond Beall. Visitors who come to the Beall will be pampered and will enjoy luxurious accommodations, including: private baths, whirlpools, fireplaces, plush robes and more.
Further up the Great River Road in Grafton, the Tara Point Inn maintains a commanding presence atop the towering limestone bluffs overlooking the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Known for its breathtaking scenic views, the Tara Point Inn was chosen as one of the “Most Scenic Views” by Arlington’s Inn Traveler magazine for 2004.
In addition to these two wonderful B&Bs, there are numerous guest houses, cabins and hotels available for guests in the Alton region. Visitors to the Village of Elsah can travel back in time to “the town that time forgot” for the Green Tree Inn or Maple Leaf Cottage Inn. And don't forget about Alton Cracker Factory which offers fantastic views of the Mississippi River in Historic Downtown Alton.
Wineries, Breweries, & Distilleries
Here in the Great Rivers & Routes region, the Napa Valley meets the Mississippi Valley, where you’ll find fine award-winning wines grown from soil enriched by the rolling waters of America’s great rivers. Light, crisp fruity wines are the perfect pair for your picnic lunch, while the blend of Cabernet Zinfandel and Syrah marry for a smooth red wine, best sipped slowly with a river view. Visitors can savor every sip as they enjoy the spectacular scenic views available at each unique location. Click here for more information area wineries. Find new craft breweries and distilleries here.
Area Wineries and Wine Bars
- Grafton Winery The Vineyards
- Grafton Winery & Brewhaus
- The Winery at Aerie's Resort
- Grafton Harbor Floating Winery
- Mary Michelle Winery
- Bella Vista Winery
- Copper Bar at State Street Market
- Half Witt Winery
- Plainview Vineyard and Winery
- The #5 Mine Winery
- The Winery at Shale Lake
- Vixen Hill Winery
- Wild Pickins Winery
Breweries & Distilleries
Orchards & Stands
Mouthwatering peaches, crisp apples, plump pumpkins and everything in between can be found at the orchards and roadside stands of Grafton. Ride out into the fields and pick your own fruit at local orchards. Or, just browse the stands along the Main Street in Grafton for some of the best locally grown produce available from early spring to late fall.
(September - November)
Visitors wishing to experience “one of the most haunted small towns in America” need to look no further than Alton, IL. Guided tours are available from early September through mid-November for the spookiest season of all.
(Select dates September - October)
See the changing of fall colors along the Great River Road on a river cruise aboard the Hakuna Matata excursion boat. (Please note occupancy restrictions apply so make reservations ahead of time.)
(4th Weekend of Month)
There will be over 50+ dealers with all types of goods, antiques glassware, tools, candles, furniture and good old-fashioned junk! (Please check the Grafton Riverside Flea Market website ahead of time to confirm the event will take place.)
Make your fall adventure a family affair that includes jam packed fun with Grafton Zipline Adventures and the Grafton SkyTour. Fly through the treetops on a zipline adventure high above the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers in Grafton. The zip line has rope bridges between lines, trails and a surprise ending. Or enjoy a more leisurely ride through the trees to the top of the bluff at Aerie's Resort with the Grafton SkyTour. The open air chair lift and enclosed gondolas take passengers 300 feet above Grafton's Main Street for amazing views of the rivers and fall colors.