Two-Day Illinois Getaway Along the Great River Road
The Great River Road takes the name Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway between Alton and Grafton, north of St. Louis.
Better than coffee, Grafton Zipline Adventures provides eye-opening views of the Mississippi River valley.
Then lower your heart rate and get in tune with Grafton's laid-back Jimmy Buffett-style atmosphere with a stop at family-owned Grafton Winery and Brewhaus to sample from 15 wines (and several beers) made in-house. Dine on upscale pub fare: pork chops, lamb and burgers.
After hiking some of the 12 miles of trails in Pere Marquette State Park, stay in a remodeled room in the Pere Marquette Lodge and Conference Center.
Not ready to call it a night? The Loading Dock has cold beer and a big deck on the riverbank.
Head south on the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway for spectacular views of the Mississippi River and its limestone bluffs.
Tiny Elsah is a step into the 19th century, with stone cottages and Greek Revival buildings housing 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 and tours of the locks make National Great Rivers Museum a must-see. Back in Alton, upscale Gentelin's on Broadway has beautifully plated dinners.
Stay to remember
A concierge e-mail asks how you like your coffee when you book a room at Beall Mansion in Alton. Add a 24-hour chocolate buffet and in-room spa services, and we could get used to this kind of hospitality. Guest rooms include spacious bathrooms (many with a whirlpool tub) and feather beds. Breakfast is a five-course affair that begins with fresh fruit and includes an appetizer, a main course and dessert. (618) 474-9100; beallmansion.com