Weekend Getaway from Chicago and Beyond
The Alton area is the ideal destination for a long weekend or three-day getaway. Just 25-miles from St. Louis on the Mighty Mississippi River, Alton has it all as it offers mile after magnificent mile of attractions along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway (Great River Road). Alton is also within reach of Chicago as you can visit on Amtrak (4 hours) or drive down historic Route 66 to Alton from Chicago for a weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the large city! St. Louis Lambert International Airport is only 20 miles away.
Rich in history the Alton region is packed with adventures and history! There is also ziplining, wineries, breweries and the largest state park in Illinois.
WHERE TO STAY
The Alton region is the perfect escape for visitors looking for a little relaxation and rejuvenation of the soul. For those seeking romance, the area is home to more than a dozen bed and breakfast inns, including two recognized among the best B&Bs in the state of Illinois. Alton is one of the great weekend getaways along the Great River Road.
Visitors to the region come back time and again to cruise their cares away with a scenic drive on the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway. Become one with nature while experiencing the rolling rivers of the Mighty Mississippi River coupled with the magnificent limestone bluffs adorned with trees and wildflowers. Recognized for its scenic beauty, the byway has been recognized in national magazines as one of the most scenic drives in the Midwest.
Along the Great River Road, Elsah is the perfect stop for visitors wishing to travel back in time and experience the “town where time stood still.” Further up the Great River Road in Grafton, visitors can be a part of life in a real river town with “Hot Fish Sandwich” stands, wineries, shopping, and an abundance of outdoor recreation.
The threads of our nation’s history, as well as Illinois’ history are woven tightly into the heritage of the region. Visitors can experience Lewis & Clark, life along the Mississippi River, meet the World’s Tallest Man, retrace the steps of escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad, explore many Civil War sites, witness th e last of the great debates in Lincoln-Douglas Square and stand in awe of the tallest monument in the state of Illinois erected in honor of Elijah Lovejoy, abolitionist and one of the first casualties of the Civil War.
In addition to the Alton Museum of History and Art, there are two, state-of-the art museums – the National Great Rivers Museum and Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Hartford is National Trail Site #1 on the Lewis & Clark Trail.
Opened in October 2003, the National Great Rivers Museum is located at Locks & Dam #26 in Alton. Adjacent to the regional bike trails and situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, this museum is dedicated to telling the story of the people, nature, and wildlife that have shaped our history.
Nature & Outdoors
Take part in a “soft” adventure at Pere Marquette State Park with fishing, swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, hiking and biking. The Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail is a 20-mile paved trail that runs along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway from Alton to Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton. With its towering bluffs and rolling waters of the Mississippi River, this trail is perhaps one of the most scenic biking trails in Illinois.
Wineries & Breweries
Napa Valley meets the Mississippi River Valley in the Meeting of the Great Rivers! Enjoy fine wines made with luscious fruits grown right along the river bluffs. Raise a glass and sip your wine nice and slow at one of the many wineries in Grafton offering scenic river views. Feeling hoppy? Let the great rivers lead you to a sampling of microbreweries concocting their own blends and crafting beers on-site.
Besides history and heritage, the region is perfect for those interested in an antique adventure. “Antique Row” in Historic Downtown Alton is known for its more than 50 antique and specialty store dealers. The treasure hunt continues with more antique shops in Grafton, as well flea markets and farmer’s markets that can be found near the riverfront in Alton and Grafton during the spring, summer and fall.
WHERE TO EAT
The Alton destination is perfect for a foodie tour with the downtown Alton district offering a revitalized dining, entertainment and residential area on the Mississippi River with new boutiques, lofts and eateries popping up all the time. Local favorites include Fast Eddie's Bon Air, The Loading Dock, My Just Desserts and more.
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