Two-Day Getaway Along the Great River Road | Midwest Living

Two-Day Getaway Along the Great River Road

The Great River Road follows the Mississippi River along Illinois’ western border. Just north of St. Louis, a trio of charming towns—Alton, Elsah and Grafton—offer great shopping and lively nightlife in a beautiful setting.
Hilltop views of the Mississippi River complement plush rooms at Tara Point Inn and Cottages in Grafton.
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Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway
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Day 1

Grafton’s laid-back Jimmy Buffett-style atmosphere encourages unwinding.

Stop at family-owned Grafton Winery and Brewhaus to sample from 15 wines (and several beers) made in-house.

Dine on meals of eggplant Parmesan and blackened catfish sandwiches in Mississippi Half Step’s gorgeous Queen Anne-style home.

Spend the afternoon hiking the 12 miles of trails in Pere Marquette State Park, which has newly remodeled rooms in a Civilian Conservation Corps lodge (from $149).

If you’re not ready to call it a night, The Loading Dock has cold beer and a big deck on the riverbank.

Day 2

Head south on the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway for spectacular views of the Mississippi and the limestone bluffs.

Explore tiny Elsah and its handful of quaint shops. Alton, 11 miles south, welcomes shoppers looking for antiques and art. My Just Desserts serves lunch classics plus delicious homemade pie—its signature is Mrs. Ledbetter’s chocolate. Browse several classy antiques stores, including Alton Antique Center, Country Meadows Antiques and Prairie Peddler Antiques. Also in the area, Alton Stained Glass Works and the Mississippi Mud Pottery showcase the owners’ handmade wares.

In East Alton, an aquarium with a new collection of fish and tours of the nearby locks make National Great Rivers Museum a must-see for nature-lovers. Back in Alton, Gentelin’s on Broadway has beautifully plated dinners in an upscale atmosphere.

More information: (800) 258-6645;

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