Quincy’s Washington Park—home to a Lincoln-Douglas debate in 1858—welcomes special events such as a spring Dogwood Festival and the summer Midsummer Arts Faire. Take a leisurely stroll through the city’s East End Historic District, a pretty neighborhood with restored 1800s homes. In the Historic Business District, peruse local art in the elegant and imposing Granite Bank Gallery or try the veal-stuffed cannelloni at the Italian restaurant Tiramisu. In the evening, savor the grand entryway and warm hospitality at the Queen Anne-style Cooper Adams House (from $95).
Travel an hour north along scenic State-96 to the Mormon-founded town of Nauvoo. The Historic Nauvoo Visitors Center provides free tickets for the horse-drawn Wagon Tour of Old Nauvoo; arrive early to claim a spot. Learn about the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Joseph Smith Historic Site, which includes walking tours of the homestead. Only LDS members are allowed inside the towering Nauvoo Temple, but anyone can snap photos of the striking exterior. The annual Nauvoo Pageant highlights local Mormon history and runs from mid-July to early August; get tickets ahead of time online. Peek into the neighboring shops Zions Mercantile and Temple House Gallery, then take advantage of free tastings and self-guided tours at Baxter’s Vineyards, the oldest winery in Illinois. Dine in one of five rooms at Hotel Nauvoo’s popular dinner buffet.