The open roads in southwest Illinois are calling ... and the good news is many roadside attractions are now open!
As of June 26, Illinois entered Phase 4 of its COVID-19 recovery plan -- opening the doors of many iconic sites that had been closed due to the health crisis. Here is your guide to attractions along Route 66 and the Great River Road in southwest Illinois that are open and welcoming visitors.
The southern leg of Route 66 in southwest Illinois is home to the requisite quirky, nostalgic and fun roadside attractions that make the Mother Road so enjoyable. Travel this 60 length of road in southwest Illinois from just south of Springfield, IL to St. Louis and discover Americana at its finest.
- Doc's Soda Fountain in Girard: This iconic pharmacy/soda fountain has been a landmark in the area since 1884. Sodas are hand pulled from the original fountain which was installed in 1929. Doc's is a 'must stop' site for Route 66 travelers.
- Sky View Drive In, Litchfield: Enjoy outdoor movies Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at this landmark drive in theater.
- Litchfield Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center: Highlighting Route 66 and the history of Litchfield itself, the neon lights of the museum beckon to Route 66 fans.
- Ariston Cafe and Jubelt's Bakery & Restaurant, Litchfield: These two dining institutions sit side-by-side along Route 66 in Litchfield. Enjoy a classic meal at the Ariston surrounded by Route 66 memorabilia. Jubelt's is sure to satisfy anyone's sweet tooth.
- Illinois Coal Museum, Gillespie: Explore the history of coal mining in this newly renovated museum which is open Wednesdays - Saturdays.
- Pink Elephant Antique Mall, Livingston: Home to an enormous indoor antique mall, the Pink Elephant is also known for its Twistee Treat Diner, Route 66 Fudge & Candy Shop and, of course, its pink elephant.
- 1820 Benjamin Stephenson House, Edwardsville: Open Thursdays - Sundays, this hands-on museum reflects life in the new Illinois territory during the early 1800's. Social distancing and other health safety measures are currently implemented.
- Willoughby Heritage Farm, Collinsville: Bring the kids and enjoy a look at farm life in the mid-1900s. Outdoor areas are open for hiking.
- Collinsville Aqua Park: Open for the season on June 27. Open seven days a week. Public hours: Noon to 7 p.m.
- Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville: Although the indoor interpretive center is currently closed, guests are welcome to stroll the grounds of the site which includes many historic Native American mounds including the highlight: Monk's Mound standing at 100 feet high.
- Henry's Rabbit Ranch, Staunton: Although owner Rich Henry and his bunnies aren't available right now, visitors are encouraged to stop and get a photo with the giant rabbit outside along with the VW Rabbit-henge on the grounds.
The Great River Road
This 30 mile stretch of the national Great River Road in Illinois is one of the most scenic and relaxing road trips around. With miles of awe-inspiring river views flanked by 300-foot tall limestone bluffs, the road follows the curve of the Mississippi River and includes its confluence with both the Missouri and Illinois rivers. See the river from all vantage points at these area attractions.
- Lewis & Clark State Historic Site, Hartford: This is the spot where Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began their famous journey across the western U.S. to the Pacific Ocean. See how they planned, trained, prepared and finally launched their trip.
- National Great Rivers Museum, Alton: Officially open July 1 to visitors. The museum highlights the impact of rivers on the economy and ecology of the surrounding lands. Enjoy a ground level tour of the lock and dam system. The adjacent Melvin Price Locks and Dam is the largest and most technologically advanced system on the Mississippi River.
- Raging Rivers Water Park, Grafton: Enjoy grand views of the nearby Mississippi River while relaxing in the sun. A variety of water rides are also available.
- Grafton SkyTour: Take a leisurely ride up the river bluffs from Grafton's Main Street to the Aerie's Resort complex soaring above the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.
- Grafton River Adventures, Grafton: The Hakuna Matata 49-passenger excursion boat is officially back on the water. Relax on a one hour Mississippi River cruise.
- Pere Marquette State Park, Grafton: Illinois' largest state park at nearly 8,000 acres. The adjacent lodge is also open for overnight stays.
- TreeHouse Wildlife Center, Dow: Currently open on weekends to visitors. The wildlife rescue sanctuary includes resident bald eagles, bobcats, white pelicans and more.
What's Not Open:
- Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower, Hartford: The Confluence Tower is closed until further notice.