With its rolling terrain, state parks and preserves traversed by the mighty Rock and Mississippi rivers, and biking and hiking trails crisscrossing the area, the Blackhawk Waterways region of northwest Illinois promises outdoor recreation bliss. The region also helped shape the childhood of our 40th president, whose boyhood home opens its doors to visitors.
Pride of Oregon
Pride of Oregon
| Credit: Jason Donnelly


White Pines Forest State Park

Hiking, fishing and camping draw visitors to the serene, 385-acre White Pines Forest State Park.

Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home

Tour the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home in Dixon. You'll be transported to the 1920s, when the country's 40th president and his family called this stately Queen Anne home.

Dixon Petunia Festival

Thousands of petunias line the town's main streets during June's The Dixon Petunia Festival. Enjoy arts and crafts demos, wacky competitions, a parade, a carnival, live music, and more along the downtown riverfront.

Dixon Petunia Festival
Credit: Courtesy of the Dixon Petunia Festival

Conover Square Merchant Mall

Once a piano factory, Conover Square Merchant Mall in Oregon now houses an indoor mall with a variety of merchants, including Slip and Slurry Pottery.

Maxon's Riverboat and Riverside Restaurant

Cruise the Rock River aboard The Pride of Oregon. The boat docks at Maxson's Riverboat and Riverside Restaurant in Oregon.


Mingle with the vintage cars and tractors that reside at Barnacopia, a three-story museum with an in-house ice cream parlor, in Polo.

Credit: Courtesy of Barnacopia

Timber Lake Playhouse

The Mount Carroll resident stock theater company at the historic Timber Lake Playhouse stage shows, including Shakespeare and Broadway musicals.

John Deere Historic Site

Tour the 1830s family home and observe blacksmith demos at the John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour.

Eat and Drink

Crystal Cork Wine Shoppe

Take your pick from more than 130 wines and 100 different martinis at Dixon's spirited and stone-walled Crystal Cork Wine Shoppe.

Aero Ale House

Come for the craft beer, stay for the wings-served baked, fried, or grilled, and then sauced-at Aero Ale House in Byron.


White Pines Resort
Credit: Jason Donnelly

White Pines Lodge

White Pines Lodge Reopened under new ownershipm the complex (formerly White Pines Resort) includes a restaurant in a 1930s log lodge, a dinner theater and cabins. whitepinesinn.com

For more information: visitnorthwestillinois.com