Top Things to Do in Alton and Grafton, Illinois
The 33-mile Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway connects Pere Marquette State Park to river ports such as Grafton and Alton. Museums, antiquing, birding and ziplining fill a getaway.
Due to possible pandemic-related travel restrictions, please check destinations' websites for the current status of attractions, events, restaurants and lodgings.
Alton Stained Glass Works Colorful art glass includes windows and wall hangings, beads, and jewelry. Fuel your creative side with classes teaching stained-glass techniques or glass-bead creation. altonartglass.com
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). riverlands.audubon.org
Grafton Winery and Brewhaus Try samples from a family- owned winery that produces 20 wines (and six beers). The patio provides river views. thegraftonwinery.com
Grafton Zipline and Sky Tour at Aerie's Resort Admire the forest canopy from above when you're on the nine-line, two-hour tour. Or float through the air on the new Grafton Sky Tour "chondola," an open-air chairlift and enclosed gondola on the same lift linking Main Street with Aerie's Resort and Winery. aeriesview.com
Lincoln and Civil War Legacy Trail Take a self-guided tour to statues, cemeteries and other sites that reflect life here in the mid-1800s. Pick up a brochure at the Alton Visitor Center or download a free trail app. riversandroutes.com
Mississippi Mud Pottery We love the locally made stoneware-and the affordable prices- at this Alton shop. mississippimudpottery.com
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. mvs.usace.army.mil
Pere Marquette State Park Twelve miles of easy trails lead to Illinois River views in the 8,000-acre park, 6 miles west of Grafton. The park's 1930s wood-and-stone lodge serves specialties like fried chicken and catfish; stay in a remodeled room. dnr.illinois.gov
Prairie Peddler Antiques Browse 18th- and 19th- century antiques both large (case clocks) and small (spatterware cups) in Alton. theprairiepeddlerantiques.com
Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail The 20-mile paved trail between Alton and Pere Marquette offers views of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers as it parallels the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway. riversandroutes.com
World's Tallest Man Statue See how you measure up to the life-size statue of Alton native Robert Pershing Wadlow, who was 8 feet 11.1 inches tall.
Fast Eddie's Bon Air Live music draws fans to this beer-and-burgers Alton spot built in 1921. fasteddiesbonair.com
Gentelin's on Broadway Visit Alton's fine-dining restaurant for dinners like black-bean cakes and tempura lobster. gentelinsonbroadway.com
The Loading Dock Grafton's open-air bar along the Mississippi offers a place to unwind and enjoy catfish fritters along with live music. graftonloadingdock.com
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 fast. myjustdesserts.org
State Street Market Try European-influenced salads, soups and sandwiches in a brick Alton building. statestreetmarketofalton.com
Beall Mansion Chocolates delivered to your room are part of the pampering experience at this turn-of-the-19th-century mansion in Alton. beallmansion.com
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. tarapoint.com
For more information: riversandroutes.com
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. seequincy.com