Midwest Living Review
Driving into Allerton Park feels like entering a time and place far removed from the surrounding corn and soybean fields of central Illinois. The former estate of art collector Robert Henry Allerton has the grandiose air of European aristocracy. A century-old Georgian-style mansion looks out over a reflecting pond, guarded by sculptures of sphinxes. Nearby paths lead the way into ornamental hedge gardens and walking trails. The grounds are populated with some magnificent and sometimes curious sculptures, both European and Asian in style, but what makes them so compelling is the way they're placed in this carefully planned landscape. The mansion is used for conferences, weddings and other private events, but unfortunately, it isn't open for walk-in visits. And due to budget cuts, Allerton Park offers no guided tours.But there isn't really much need for a guide. Strolling around the park on your own is a delightful escape. The most interesting sights are close to the mansion and the lovely, rolling meadows, but Allerton Park extends far beyond, encompassing 1,500 acres of forest and prairie with 14 miles of trails. Visitors can spend many hours exploring the woodlands. (Make sure to bring bug spray.) Two significant, monumental sculptures are located a couple of miles away from the mansion: "The Death of the Last Centaur" by Antoine Bourdelle and the blue "The Sun Singer" by Carl Milles. Both of these statues are easily accessible by driving or hiking, and they shouldn't be missed. It's breathtaking to see these giant metallic figures rising out of the ground in the middle of the woods.Allerton is open from 8 a.m. until sunset every day except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.