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Enjoy the charms of Alton, Elsah and Grafton

Like siblings with totally different personalities, Alton, Elsah and Grafton await in Illinois along the Mississippi River, with stops that combine to create a lively fall weekend.

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Riverside service is casual at Grafton’s The Loading Dock.
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Relax on Beall Mansion’s inviting front porch in Alton.
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The stately chapel at Elsah’s Principia College.
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Trip guide: Where to eat

Gentelin’s on Broadway Locals frequent Alton’s fine-dining restaurant for its creative dinner menu and reasonable prices. (618) 465-6080; gentelinsonbroadway.com

The Loading Dock The seasonal open-air bar along the Mississippi offers a place to unwind and enjoy standard pub fare in Grafton. (618) 786-3494; graftonloadingdock.com

State Street Market Generous salads, soups and sandwiches satisfy at lunchtime in a historic Alton building. (618) 462-8800

Mississippi Half Step Dive into seafood dishes and homemade desserts at an 1885 mansion in Grafton. (618) 786-2722; mississippihalfstep.com

My Just Desserts Keep an eye on the chalkboard at this Alton gem, where servers erase each variety as it runs out. It’s better to order dessert first, especially the Mrs. Ledbetter’s Chocolate Pie, topped with coconut and pecans. (618) 462-5881; myjustdesserts.org

Trip guide: Where to sleep

Beall Mansion Don’t be surprised when you’re greeted by a butler in a tux; it’s all part of the experience at this elegant turn-of-the-century mansion in Alton. Raspberry torte caps an incredible five-course breakfast. From $159. (618) 474-9100; beallmansion.com

Ruebel Hotel Though the building retains its 1879 charm, guest rooms offer 21st-century comforts, including Bath and Body Works products. Relax at the beautiful restored oak counter from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Some guests say this Grafton place is haunted. From $105. (618) 786-2315; ruebelhotel.com

Tara Point Inn and Cottages The views alone are worth a stay at this property perched on a high bluff in Grafton. Choose between one of the main-house rooms or a cottage suite with private deck. From $168, including a Continental breakfast. (618) 786-3555; tarapoint.com

For information: Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau (618) 465-6676; visitalton.com

(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® September/October 2012.)

 

 

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