Let's Take a Trip: 5 Day Trips in Southwest Illinois

Are you feeling adventurous today? Want to catch a glimpse of something great?

Well the GREAT Rivers & Routes region in southwest Illinois is the best place to find yourself lost on an amazing day trip.

We have you covered with 5 great day trips for different types of adventures and in distinctive locations.

Are you ready?

Here we go ...

Spend some solo time at Lake Lou Yaeger in Litchfield. Hiking trails and lake activities are perfect for the solo day tripper.


We get it. Sometimes you need a little alone time to catch up on some thoughts. Well this region has many spots for you to spend the day basking in nature's ambiance. Litchfield has some great trails that offer a touch of nature mixed with a bit of sweat. If you are into biking you can ride on the Route 66 Hike & Bike trail that features a 6.6 mile trail full of color and animals. If you're not feeling the full 6.6 miles you could always go a shorter route or stop by the Shoal Creek Conservation area. This area is short in length but long in animal diversity. More than 70 different kinds of butterflies, at least 74 species of birds and a large amount of other animals call this area home.

After you're done with your nice little trail hike step down into a kayak on Lake Lou Yeager and catch some fish or just enjoy the nice shimmer on the water! This day trip will definitely leave you hungry so stop by Gianni’s Pizza & Italian Ristorante and grab yourself a personal Vinny’s Special Togo. You won't regret it and you will go home feeling refreshed!

Sometimes you need a little alone time to catch up on some thoughts. Well, this region has many spots where you can spend the day basking in nature's ambiance.


Start the day off with a delicious breakfast at a Beatles-themed café called Sgt. Peppers Cafe in Edwardsville. Right down the road is your first stop, the Watershed Nature Center, where you can enjoy nature in and around a nice pocket of water. Walk the trails and look under the lily pads, you just might find some jumpy critters. After you are all warm and toasty switch into your swimsuits and drive to Collinsville and splash in the Collinsville Aqua Park where you can spend the rest of the day soaked and smiling! Once you are all cleaned up walk or drive to Annie’s Frozen Custard and treat yourself to something sweet. You may need a nice nap after this long day of water and sun.


This is a different type of day trip. This is a trip meant for a true adventurer looking to find a place to call their own. Begin the day with a hearty breakfast in Godfrey at Joe K’s where a family owned business makes you feel at home with delicious omelets and sweet pancakes. When you have had your fill, it's time to get on the road and take a short drive to The Nature institute in Godfrey. The Nature Institute offers many different trails and ponds of preserved wildlife. Please don't bring your pets as it will disrupt this gorgeous sanctuary.

After wandering around the great outdoors, it's time to indulge in retail therapy. Head to Alton and browse the downtown antique shops. Go into a few places and find your hidden gem or go to Mississippi Mud Pottery and revel in the hand thrown pottery on display! If you choose a Wednesday to take your trip, you will definitely find yourself walking to the Alton Famer’s Market where you can find locally grown produce and handmade items. After all the walking and searching you need a spot to rest and grab a bite. Bluff City Grill is a hidden gem itself located on Broadway. From the outside it looks to just be a random bar but as you walk in and look at the shiny floors and taste the variety of flavors they offer on their menu your mind will be forever changed (Quick Tip: the guac bites are to die for).


Gotta love some family time, especially when its part of a day trip! Drive down to Eckert’s Farm in Grafton where the whole family can enjoy picking their own fruit depending on the season. Play with the cute farm animals and let your kids enjoy the large playground. Afterwards take a nice little hike in Pere Marquette State Park where you can watch the eagles or soak in the beauty of the Mississippi River. Head in to Grafton get a great view of the river in with a ride on the Grafton Sky Tour. A round trip is only $10 per person! Once your adrenaline is pumping from the heights fill yourself up with some homemade fudge at The Grafton Fudge & Ice Cream Shop. If you’re feeling a yearning for ice cream, get some of that too. On your way back stop, at the Great Rivers Park in Alton and explore the myth of the legendary Piasa Bird.


This trip is not recommended for children under the age of 18! I repeat this is a edgy and sketchy trip, but you asked for it. Start your day with a breakfast of champs…at one of the top five coffee spots in the region. After you're done, invite some friends to Rock Spring Park in Alton for an intense game of frisbee golf, but be careful with the uneven terrain. Once you beat all your friends it’s time to take a walk through Lavista Park in Godfrey, follow the path all the way down to the river road. Catch great sights of nature either walking, longboarding, or biking.

Ready for more? Take a hike on the Sam Valdalbene Bike Trail that leads past a hidden entrance to a limestone cave. The cave has been blocked off for years and is unsafe, but some days you can see a gorgeous waterfall on the outside of it. After the thrilling sights, take a drive to Grafton and do some extreme ziplining at Grafton Zipline Adventures where you can zip through the trees at high speeds all while catching an amazing glance of the water and surrounding nature! (Quick Tip: Check availability). You will most definitely be exhausted after this day so it may be smart to get some take out from any of the great restaurants located in Grafton

Hope this helps plan your next day trip!

Remember to be safe and have fun.

About the Author

Cailyn Tegel

Cailyn Tegel is a senior at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She joined the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau as its Summer 2020 Intern. She is an avid traveler and plans to pursue a career in travel or public relations upon graduation. She is planning a trip to Greece in the Spring of 2021 and has plans to visit all 50 states in the U.S. in the next few years!