Alton & Grafton, IL Top Ten Vacation Spots
1) Lewis & Clark State Historic Site – 1 Lewis & Clark Trail
Hartford, IL 62048 (618) 251-5811 www.campdubois.com
Come back to where the journey began at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center. As National Trail Site #1 on the Lewis & Clark Trail, this museum is dedicated to telling the Illinois side of the Lewis & Clark journey. It was here in Illinois that the Corps of Discovery spent five months preparing for the journey. It was here in Illinois the common men became soldiers embarking on a military expedition. It was here in Illinois on May 14, 1804, that the journey westward began. Experience Lewis & Clark like never before with five exhibit rooms, the film “At Journey’s Edge”, and a 55-foot full scale “cutaway” keelboat.
2 ) Lewis & Clark Confluence Tour – 435 Confluence Dr.
Hartford, IL 62048 (618) 251-9101 www.riversandroutes.com/lewis-clark-confluence-tower/
The Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower is located in Hartford, Illinois, two miles from the Lewis & Clark State Historic Site, which is National Trail Site #1 on the Lewis & Clark Trail. The Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower was built in commemoration of the historic expedition. The 180-foot tower has three viewing platforms at 50, 100 and 150-feet connecting the two towers that represent Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Each level of the tower tells stories about the area’s history, including the Village of Hartford, the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, Lewis and Clark and the confluence of two great rivers – the Mississippi and Missouri.
3 ) Piasa Park – Piasa Park on IL. Rte. 100
Alton, IL 62002
The dragon-like beast that still inhabits the river’s bluffs today as a painting was first discovered and recorded by Father Jacques Marquette in 1673 during his exploration of the mighty Mississippi. The legendary bird which terrorized and devoured people was carefully painted on the bluffs by the Indians who finally destroyed the bird. A replica of the painting can be found today at Piasa Park along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway outside of Alton.
4) Hakuna Matata River Cruises – Grafton Harbor, 215 W Water St, Grafton (618) 786-7678 https://graftonharbor.com/
Take a relaxing riverboat cruise aboard the 49-passenger excursion boat, Hakuna Matata! Based out of Grafton Harbor, the Hakuna Matata has upper deck open air seating and enclosed mid-deck seating. Enjoy River Rambler cruises or themed Sunset or Wine cruises. A variety of scheduled excursions and private party rentals are available Spring, Summer & Fall!
5) Raging Rivers Water Park – Grafton 100 Palisades Pkwy., Grafton, 618-786-2345 www.ragingrivers.com/
This park is located right on the bluff next to the Mississippi River! Incredible views along with incredible fun for the entire family! Make a splash with an afternoon, staying cool at Raging Rivers Water Park. Choose from four winding waterslides, brave the waves at Breaker Beach or float along the Lazy River.
6) Grafton Sky Tour Aerial Lift – Aerie’s Resort, 14 W Main St, Grafton, (618) 786-2439 https://www.aeriesview.com/
Soar over the Mississippi Bluffs on the brand-new Grafton Sky Tour to Aerie’s Resort and Winery (opening September 2019). The Sky Tour is the only combination lift in the Midwest and the second fixed-grip chondola in North America. At the top, enjoy breathtaking views overlooking the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Explore the resort gift shops and stores and grab a drink on the expansive deck and beer garden.
7) Wineries – Grafton
If you brake for wine, get ready to pump your pedal in Grafton. Here, the Napa Valley meets the Mississippi Valley with award-winning wines and spectacular scenic views. Light, crisp, fruity wines are the perfect pair for your picnic lunch, while the blend of Cabernet Zinfandel and Syrah marry for smooth red wine. Yield at the next crossing, and plan a rest stop to enjoy a sip riverside.
Grafton Winery & Brewhaus
300 W. Main St. Grafton
Award-winning wines and brews are prepared on-site from a combination of California and locally grown grapes and fruits. More than 15 wines are featured under the Grafton Winery Label.
The Winery at Aerie’s Resort
600 Timber Ridge Dr, Grafton, IL
The panoramic view is known as “The Best View In The Midwest” and the wine selection is unbeatable every season of the year on top of the bluffs at The Winery at Aerie’s Resort in Grafton, IL. Our Chefs have worked extremely hard to expand our menu and these culinary creations compliment both the wine selection and the view. The Winery at Aerie’s has a great lineup of live entertainment throughout the season. Aerie’s Resort also has zip-lining, aerial sky ride, conference facility, gift shop and nature walking trails for our guest’s experience
Grafton Harbor Floating Winery
215 W Water St, Grafton, IL
Stop in the Floating Winery & Gifts Ahoy! Enjoy wine tasting at its best with more than 100 wines from around the world. Gift Ahoy carries the best selection of nautical and wine related gifts on the river! Everything from what floats your boat to what makes you beautiful. Gourmet foods, picnic wine baskets, jewelry, children’s nautical toys, clothing, decorating accessories, anchors, river charts and much more!
Grafton Ice House Winery
214 W. Main St, Grafton, IL
Stop into this wine boutique featuring local Illinios wines and beyond. This shop also offers wine-related clothing and accessories.
8) Eagle Watching – Grafton
Grafton is nestled on the banks at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers where eagles are spotted daily during the end of December, January and February. In Illinois, Bald eagles are seen primarily near large rivers, reservoirs and waterfowl refuges.
9) Shopping – Alton & Grafton
First stop at Grafton and take in all the quaint little shops in the neat river town. Grafton is one of those towns that you walk, enjoy the shops, ice cream shops and wineries, and food. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Then drive to Alton and enjoy all the shopping in this river town.
10) Just Drive!
The Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway is a perfect day trip from Harpole’s Heartland Lodge. Pack up the car and hit the road. Where the wheels meet the pavement, life meets an escape. It’s just you, the river and the open road. Let your wheels lead the way as the road bends with the river beneath the towering limestone bluffs along the 33 mile Scenic Byway. Roll the windows down, set the cruise control and enjoy the ride.
This day trip can be combined with a trip to St Louis, St Charles and Pike County Missouri. Just take a bridge or ferry across the river to Missouri and come back the Missouri Side!
Please contact each location directly to check on hours of operation and directions.