Trip Guide to Alton and Grafton, Illinois | Midwest Living

Trip Guide to Alton and Grafton, Illinois

The 33-mile Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway takes travelers to riverboat ports like Grafton and Alton as well as to Pere Marquette State Park and other destinations that fill a weekend getaway.


Alton Antique Center Browse treasures artfully arranged around themes (country decor, Asian-inspired items, Parisian porcelain) in this 10,000-square-foot store. (618) 463-0888

Alton Stained Glass Works Colorful art glass includes windows and wall hangings, beads and jewelry. Also: art glass classes and a lounge serving wine, tea and beer.

Audubon Center at Riverlands Scope out some of the nearly 300 bird species that have been spotted at this center near the confluence of the Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri rivers in West Alton, Missouri (just across the border from Alton, Illinois).

Grafton Winery and Brewhaus A family-owned winery pours samples of 15 wines (and six beers). The patio provides river views.

Grafton Zipline Adventures Admire the forest canopy from above when you’re on the newly designed course, which features longer zips.

Lincoln and Civil War Legacy Trail Bronze sculptures depict Lincoln and Douglas at the site of their final debate. It’s one of 10 sites on a self-guided history trail in Alton.

Lincoln and Civil War Legacy Trail

Lincoln and Civil War Legacy Trail

Mississippi Mud Pottery We love the locally made stoneware—and the affordable prices—at this Alton shop.

National Great Rivers Museum Try to steer a barge down the Mississippi or control the flow of water in a lock at the museum’s interactive exhibits, then take a guided tour of the lock and dam.

Pere Marquette State Park Twelve miles of easy trails lead to Illinois River views in the 8,000-acre park, 5 miles north of Grafton. The park’s 1930s wood-and-stone lodge serves specialties like fried chicken and catfish; stay in a remodeled room.

Pere Marquette State Park

Prairie Peddler Antiques Browse 18th- and 19th-century antiques both large (case clocks, Windsor chairs) and small (cookie molds) in Alton.


Gentelin’s on Broadway Visit Alton’s fine-dining restaurant for dinners like black-bean cakes and tempura lobster.

The Loading Dock Grafton's open-air bar along the Mississippi offers a place to unwind and enjoy catfish fritters or burgers.

State Street Market Try European-influenced salads, soups and sandwiches in a brick Alton building. (618) 462-8800

My Just Desserts Keep an eye on the chalkboard at this Alton gem, where servers erase each sweet as it runs out. Mrs. Ledbetter’s German Chocolate Pie goes especially fast.


Beall Mansion A 24-hour chocolate buffet and optional in-room spa services are part of the experience at this turn-of-the-19th-century mansion in Alton.

Ruebel Hotel Though the Grafton building traces its history to 1879, rooms offer modern comforts. Relax at the restored oak bar from the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Tara Point Inn and Cottages The views alone are worth a stay at this property on a high bluff in Grafton. Choose main-house rooms or a cottage suite.

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Day trip 

Quincy Architecture and history lure visitors here (115 miles north of Alton). Tour Gov. John Wood’s Mansion, a Greek Revival home with period furniture and art. Find contemporary fine art at Gallery Solaro in a renovated 1857 brewery. A self-guided driving tour shows off buildings of different eras.  

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