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.

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.

Stone and timber maintain the 1930s cabinlike feel; inside, modern comforts await. 

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.

A chess game here takes more effort

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 at Aerie's Resort. Even beginners can zoom among the trees.

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

The Illinois River sparkles below Pere Marquette State Park in Illinois.

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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