Great State Park Stays: Illinois' Pere Marquette Lodge | Midwest Living

Great State Park Stays: Illinois' Pere Marquette Lodge

Climb past the lush valley retreat to reach the Illinois River bluffs when you stay at Pere Marquette Lodge and Conference Center.
The Illinois River sparkles below Pere Marquette State Park in Illinois.
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Stone and timber maintain the 1930s cabinlike feel; inside, modern comforts await.
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A chess game here takes more effort.
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Since the 1930s, the 50-foot limestone fireplace at Pere Marquette State Park’s lodge has stood as a source of warmth. A young couple calls on that strength and longevity as they exchange vows in this haven known for its classy architecture and rustic setting.

Set amid 8,000 hilly, tree-dappled acres, the renovated Civilian Conservation Corps-built lodge provides thoughtful hospitality in Grafton, an hour north of St. Louis. (The 33-mile Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway makes the drive fly.) The 72 guest rooms have cozy beds, soft towels and squeaky-clean bathrooms.

Generations battle using knights and queens half their height on a massive chessboard. Families with young kids unwind at the pool overlooking the river valley. Creaky wooden floors lead to the dining room, where patrons settle into high-backed chairs under lantern chandeliers for hearty meals of chops, steaks and amaretto cheesecake.

Outside, the clip-clop of hooves from the riding stables floats up from the foothills. A cruise along Scenic Drive leads to incredible Illinois River views. A visit to Pere Marquette doesn’t have to be about getting a workout on trails; sometimes, it’s just good to find serenity in the scene. 

While you’re there ...

1 The park is popular during winter, when hundreds of bald eagles dot the Mississippi (it doesn’t freeze, making it easy for the migrating raptors to fish). 

2  Locally crafted wine and beer draw crowds to Grafton Winery and Brewhaus. (618) 786-3001; On warm summer days, kick back at The Loading Dock, a riverside bar. (618) 786-3494;

3 Admiring Pere Marquette’s forest canopy takes on an adrenaline rush during Grafton Zipline Adventures. Even beginners can zoom among the trees. (618) 786-8439;

To plan your trip: (618) 786-2331;

Read about more favorite state park stays:

South Dakota's Custer State Park

Iowa's Honey Creek Resort

Indiana's Turkey Run Inn

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