Ciao! Welcome to Collinsville, Illinois.
World famous for its enormous 170-foot Brooks Catsup Bottle water tower and its stature as the horseradish capital of the world, the community is rich in Italian heritage and offers visitors a wide array of delightful, historic and intriguing attractions and activities.
Perched in the American Bottoms and just a hop, skip and a jump from downtown St. Louis, Collinsville is accessible by three major U.S. interstates and two nearby airports. Visitors can choose from a variety of lodging and dining options and even enjoy a free weekend city shuttle to transport them from local hotels to dining, shopping and area attractions.
What makes modern day Collinsville a singular destination is its place in history. Home to the largest and most civilized prehistoric culture north of Mexico, what is now called the Cahokia Mounds Historic Site sits on the southwest edge of this modern U.S. city. Within the 2,000 acre tract of the preserved settlement lies the archeological remains of the Mississippians and their ancient civilization known today as Cahokia. The Native Americans in the region built over 80 man-made mounds and 70 still exist. The mounds were used for ceremonial and burial purposes and visitors can stroll through the grounds and explore the remaining mounds. Cahokia Mounds is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Historical Landmark.
(Monks Mound at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site)
Modern day Collinsville was settled in the early 1800’s and named for the Collins family who came to the area from Litchfield, Connecticut. Flour, lumber and whiskey were early products of the fledgling community. But it was the discovery of coal beneath the soil in Collinsville that catapulted the city into the modern age and brought an influx of residents.
Known for its large Italian population, descendants of late 19th and 20th Century immigrants, the city hosts the largest Italian Festival in the Midwest the third weekend of September each year. More than 50,000 visitors flock to the streets of Uptown Collinsville for Italian food, grape stomping competitions, music and culture during the two day street fest. (Travel Tip: Visit Spiritos at 228 W. Main St., in Uptown Collinsville, an authentic Italian grocery store and deli. Spiritos has Italian spices that can’t be found anywhere else in the Midwest. And seriously, everyone needs to try their foot-long Italian sandwich!)
(Grape Stomping competition at the Italian Festival)
Another city festival that should be included on any bucket list is the annual International Horseradish Festival held in June. Collinsville reportedly produces 85 percent of the world’s horseradish and the annual two day festival features such exclusive treats as Horseradish Ice Cream and competitions including a Root Toss and Root Sacking Contest. All things “horsey” are featured at the festival!
(Jars of fresh horseradish from Collinsville's International Horseradish Festival)
New to the festival scene in Collinsville is the Smokin’ on Main barbeque festival held the last weekend in July. Barbeque competitions, food vendors, music and more are part of this street festival celebrating the outdoor cooking skills of local and national competitors.
Collinsville is also home to the only live thoroughbred racing facility in downstate Illinois, Fairmount Park. Live racing runs from April through September two days a week but Simulcast Racing is shown daily. Play Horse Hookey on Tuesday featuring reduced admission and food and drink deals or take in night racing on Saturdays.
In the mood for authentic Mexican or great fried chicken? What about a juicy burger? Collinsville’s culinary scene pops with locally owned and operated eateries. For over 50 years Ramon’s has created Mexican dishes loved by the locals. Or sample the Ravanelli’s takeon St. Louis toasted ravioli paired with their famous fried chicken. For a true taste of Collinsville, mosey on in to Bert’s Chuck Wagon in Uptown Collinsville. A staple in the local culinary scene for 56 years, Bert’s has daily lunch and dinner specials. Be sure to stop in on Monday evenings for the ever popular all-you-can-eat buffet.
It’s not just the local culinary scene that puts Collinsville on the map. Now home to the Old Herald Brewery & Distillery, the city boasts a destination craft distillery tour inside a family-friendly full service restaurant featuring freshly prepare food. Check out the craft beer, spirits and soda all crafted on site.
A trip to Collinsville isn’t complete without a stop at Willoughby Heritage Farm. The farm, tucked away in Collinsville’s residential area, is a time machine visit back to 1940’s middle America. The farmhouse is restored to its original character and free tours are available daily. Take a peek in the barn and enjoy the live animals on site including donkeys, chickens and goats. The 30-acre wildlife preserve has hiking trails and scenic vistas overlooking the surrounding prairie.
Be sure to tour the historic D.D. Collins House at 703 W. Main St., in Collinsville. The Greek revival home was built in 1845 by the first president of the Collinsville Village Board, Judge Daniel Collins. The home is open for tours on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Plan to spend a night or two in Collinsville in the city’s Hospitality District. The Gateway Convention Center serves as the anchor to the district which features nine different hotel/motels with over 900 rooms along with a variety of restaurants and the rejuvenated Collinsville Water Park. The Water Park is open seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
(Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville)
The City of Collinsville offers a free Hospitality Shuttle on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for visitors. The Shuttles run every 45 minutes starting in the Hospitality District at the Gateway Center and nearby hotels. The route includes stops in Uptown Collinsville and St. Louis Road.