Viewing posts categorised under: Attractions

A Weekend in Litchfield & Hillsboro

Tiffany Garavaglia
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Accommodations, Attractions, History, Museums, New Counties, Nostalgia, Outdoors, Recreation, Rt. 66, Shop Local, Shopping, Uncategorized, Wineries

Looking for a great weekend trip? Litchfield and Hillsboro are great places for a girls getaway, couples retreat, or a family gathering. Both are located in Montgomery County with Litchfield being a stop on the famous Route 66. With plenty of history, as well as things to do, these Illinois cities  make the perfect weekend getaway!

 

 

EAT

Ariston Cafe
This cafe is said to be the oldest cafe and in 2006 was named to the National Registry of Historic Places. It has been family owned since 1927 and currently serves a mix of Italian, Southern, and Seafood cuisines. Stop by to grab a quick bite and enjoy the history of this iconic cafe. Click here for their menu.

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Sights to See: Casey

Tiffany Garavaglia
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Accommodations, Attractions, Food, Life's A Trip, Outdoors, Recreation, Summer

It’s time to start planning for vacations this year! ILLINOISouth is home to many great sights and has something for everyone. This combined with our restaurants and dining options you can make a whole trip out of our Sights to See!

In this edition of Sights to See check out the city of Casey. Casey is home to several “World’s Largest” items featured in the Guinness’s Book of World Records. Spend the day snapping pictures with you in the largest rocking chair and let the kids send a letter from the World’s Largest Mailbox.

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Sights to See: Carlyle Lake

Tiffany Garavaglia
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Accommodations, Attractions, Food, Life's A Trip, Outdoors, Recreation, Summer

It’s time to start planning for vacations this year! ILLINOISouth is home to many great sights and has something for everyone. This combined with our restaurants and dining options you can make a whole trip out of our Sights to See!

In this edition of Sights to See check out Carlyle Lake. Check out the events to celebrate the 5oth anniversary of the lake. There is plenty to see and do around Carlyle!

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Sights to See: Gateway Motor Sports

Tiffany Garavaglia
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Accommodations, Attractions, Life's A Trip, Motorsports, Museums, Sports, Summer

It’s time to start planning for vacations this year! ILLINOISouth is home to many great sights and has something for everyone. This combined with our restaurants and dining options you can make a whole trip out of our Sights to See!

On this edition of Sights to See check out Gateway Motor Sports. This family-friendly activity will have you on the edge of your seat with some racing fun! Located only 15 minutes from St. Louis, Gateway Motor Sports Park and its surrounding amenities provide a weekend full of fun!

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Three New Counties: Meet Clark County!

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, New Counties, Summer, Tourism Times

I went down to the crossroads…but not the ones Clapton sang about. I’m referring to Marshall, IL – the crossroads of I-70, the Lincoln Heritage Trail, The Historic National Road (Hwy 40), and IL-1. Marshall is nestled just minutes from Terre Haute, IN, and is the Seat of Clark County – one of three new counties covered by ILLINOISouth Tourism. Clark County is home to rich history, pristine parks and plenty of unique attractions.

Archer Inn in Marshall, IL

Archer Inn in Marshall, IL

“Marshall is the kind of town that makes you want a hot dog and an ice-cold lemonade on a summer night” says Jennifer Bishop, Economic Development Director, and Head of the Marshall Chamber of Commerce. “Summers here are incredible, from concerts on the Courthouse lawn, to the seemingly endless parade of boats heading to Lincoln Trail and Mill Creek Parks each weekend; the town just comes alive!”

National Road Display at Harlan Hall

National Road Display at Harlan Hall

This Summer will be one to remember……. Jennifer and her team are planning a “Walldogs” mural-painting event June 22 – 26 welcoming over 100 artists from around the world to paint 16 murals in town. Visitors can sign up to help with the painting, or just observe. A Vendor Fair sponsored by the local Gaslight Art Colony and other festivities round out the event. The new murals will join an existing mural commemorating the Historic National Road.

Across the street from that mural is Harlan Hall, a gorgeous three-story brick building, established as an opera house and delivery stable in 1872. It now houses the Illinois National Road Welcome Center, as well as meeting and event space. Another historical spot can be found under the water tower, at 717 Archer Ave. Archer House is an inn established in 1841, that on several occasions housed a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln when he held court in Marshall.

How abo

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie at West Union Café

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie at West Union Café

ut grabbing a bite at the West Union Café? The Café is the recipient of not one, but two “Best of the Wabash Valley” awards – and is the only eatery that has won two. One for their broasted chicken, and the other is for their homemade pies. I opted for chocolate/peanut butter…save room for dessert.

Nearby Martinsville typifies the heart of rural America. The charm is felt from the retro water tower to the two side by-side parks just off the main drag. Linn Park, across from the city’s Veteran’s Memorial Park, is home to the small town’s array of summer events and concerts.

Can you think of a better way to celebrate a small town than with really big things? I’m talking gargantuan, tremendous, colossal, and in some cases the bona fide World’s Largest things…

Casey, near the western border between Clark and Cumberland Counties, is among the most unique towns I’ve seen. Visitors will find The World’s Largest (as verified by Guinness) Rocking Chair, Mailbox, Golf Tee, Pitchfork, Wooden Shoes, Wind Chime, Knitting Needles and Crochet Hook. These and other incredibly large items like a giant #2 Pencil can be found throughout the town with more on the way.

World's Largest Mailbox in Casey, IL

World’s Largest Mailbox in Casey, IL

All of these big things can inspire a big appetite. We’d recommend a tiny store called Moonshine. This small, quaint shop is about 12 country miles out of town and is world-famous for shelling out some of the best burgers in Southern Illinois. They’ve even made national T.V.!

 

This article originally appeared in the 2016 Spring Summer issue of the Tourism Times. Click Here to read the current issue online or request your FREE printed copy!

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Illinois' First Road

Illinois South Admin
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Attractions, History, Tourism Times

Travel on the King’s Road…King Louis XV of France, that is! French colonists gave this name to the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail (KCT) in the early 1700s. More than 300 years later, the road is still used today in southwestern Illinois.

Jarrot Mansion, Cahokia

Jarrot Mansion, Cahokia

In this region, the Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Kaskaskia and Meramec Rivers converge with the Mississippi, and throughout history provided reliable transportation for exploration, settlement and trade. Overland trails were used to access interior lands beyond and between the rivers.

The KCT can be traced to American Indian people around 11,000 BC, who over time built large civilizations with mound cities along the trail. When the French established permanent settlements at Kaskaskia and Cahokia, they named these villages after the native Illini people.

Fort de Chartres, Prairie Du Rocher

Fort de Chartres, Prairie Du Rocher

Other forts and settlements grew over the next 100 years along the east side of the Mississippi River Valley. This first road spawned other routes that led to Illinois becoming the 21st state in 1818, with Kaskaskia serving as the first state capital.

Bellefontaine House, Waterloo

Bellefontaine House, Waterloo

The 60-mile long corridor connects visitors with many opportunities to discover the region’s diverse history. Explore the evolution of native cultures, French colonial roots, Revolutionary War era settlement, early Illinois statehood, westward expansion, European immigration and agricultural significance along the Trail.

The dramatic bluffs of the scenic Mississippi River Valley shape the natural landscape of the Trail. Rolling oak-hickory forests, prairies and farmlands including quaint, historic villages and rural back roads make this 60-mile journey one you will never forget.

View of the Bluffs in Monroe County

View of the Bluffs in Monroe County

In 2014, the Illinois General Assembly proclaimed the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail as an Illinois Historic and Scenic Route. Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair Counties and their respective municipalities, are working together to improve and promote this historic and scenic corridor for the world to explore, appreciate and enjoy.

Call our office today (800.442.1488) to request a brochure detailing the attractions along the trail or email kctrailillinois@gmail.com for other inquiries.

This information originally appeared in the Fall 2015 Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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Antiques – Bringing Way Back When to Here and Now

Illinois South Admin
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Antiques, Attractions, Fall, Shopping, Tourism Times

antiques twitter bannerPeople who love to trade in antiques are a very special breed. They live for the “find,” like the couple who buy the rickety old wooden chair at a garage sale for 15 bucks—then, before driving off to the next poor soul’s house, can’t resist telling the clueless sellers that it’s antebellum.

olney

Fabulous Finds by Jerri Allen, Olney

Few are that snarky, of course. They’re a community not unlike the experts on Pickers or Pawn Stars. They see through the rust, grime and flaking paint to see what’s beneath. They recognize character. And, value.

Plenty of antiquers buy and sell in ILLINOISouth, the 20-county corridor that stretches from St. Louis east to the Indiana border like a belt that holds up a paunch facing west.

Some are big, some are small, some are malls. Some trade in true antiques… that is, items that have been around a century or more… some in “collectibles.” Most have a little of some, a little of the other. For many, antique just means that they don’t make ’em like they used to, or you had something similar at home growing up, or you collect fine French china. (And don’t mind the little “flea bite” on that glazed white pitcher from around 1920. Turn the chipped side to the wall and nobody will notice.)

Some collectors love to display well-used farm implements, inside and out. There’s plenty of that around here, from Fairview Heights to Olney.

One thing to remember: Wherever it is, no antique store is ever the same place twice! So come early, come often.

  St. Clair Antique Mall, Fairview Heights:  618-628-1650

One of the region’s several antique malls is only 15 minutes from downtown St. Louis. Two hundred dealers offer a dizzying array of goodies, so make a day of it. If there was a specialty here, it would be primitives, crock ware, glassware and furniture. Just across I-64 is one of the region’s major retail malls and dozens of big-box stores, where you can take a break to shop for some new stuff.

highland

Windows Off Broadway, Highland

Windows on Broadway, Highland: 618-651-4401

There are nearly 100 windows on this building, thus the name. Want some old magazines or 45 RPM singles? Check. A butter churn or bowling pins? You got it. But the 2,100-square-foot atrium graced by all those windows? Probably not. It’s more than an antique store; it’s a destination for intimate special events with a kitchen and bar.

The Antique Mall of Perry County, Nashville: 618-336-5300

Seventy-plus vendors have it all, from quality antiques to vintage collectibles…
all on one floor, in 12,000 square feet of space.

Vintage Collections Antique Mall, Mt. Carmel:  618-262-2513

Some collectors want things that are vintage or “retro,” regardless of whether they’re truly antique. You’ll find those here, too. Various genres are available, from primitives to costume jewelry. Dealers are always welcome.

mt carmel

Vintage Collections Antique Mall, Mt. Carmel

Prairie Albion Antique Mall, Albion:  618-302-2146

albion

Prairie Albion Antique Mall, Albion

Are you a “repurposer”? This place is chock full of stuff you’ll want to work with. There are stoneware crocks, primitives and pottery, and blue “canning” jars. Or, select one-of-a-kind decorations for a banquet or country wedding!

Fabulous Finds by Jerri Allen, Olney:  618-919-0532

This unique emporium offers French Country, shabby chic, primitives, upcycled and repurposed treasures. You crazy kids might even find items that you could fashion into “steampunk”… simply from picking through what other shoppers passed off as “just junk”… here or at any other of stores we featured.

Click Here for more Antique Shops and other unique shopping throughout Illinois South!


This information originally appeared in the Fall Tourism Times Newsletter. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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July 4th in #ILSouth!!!

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, Events, Holidays, Summer, What's Happening

independence day blog banner

OOOOOOOOOOOH!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

It’s time to celebrate Independence Day in ILLINOISouth. Beginning this weekend you can find everything from live music, to sandcastle contests, car shows to volleyball and washers tournaments. Runs, festivals and more will dot our region to celebrate the ultimate summer holiday…and, of course, don’t miss all the FIREWORKS!!!

Read below, or visit our online calendar for information on what our different communities are doing!

Jun. 27, 2015
4th of July Dam Jam & Fireworks
Carlyle Lake
Come enjoy a full day of live music, sandcastle building contest, volleyball tournament concluding with a wonderful fireworks display. The fireworks will be shot from point 1 and can be viewed by boat or shore in the Dam West and East Recreation Areas.

Freedom Day
Toledo
Celebrate independence with corn dogs, Kitten Ball and lots of contests (pizza eating, Little Miss and Mister, etc.) fireworks, music and food.

Jun. 27, 2015 – Jun. 28, 2015
West Salem 4th of July Celebration
West Salem
Town Wide Yard Sale, 5K Run/Walk, Raffle, and fireworks. Church service 10:00 a.m. on the Square, Firehouse Dinner at Noon Car Show – Registration 11:30 a.m., Awards 4:30 p.m.

Jul. 1, 2015
Annual Carnival & 4th of July Celebration
Fairview Park, Centralia
The carnival will have entertainment, good games and fireworks. Patriotic event is held in the City’s park.

Jul. 1, 2015 – Jul. 5, 2015
Patriots in the Park
Wilson Park, Granite City
This event includes an auto show, carnival with food, live entertainment and rides. Don’t miss the incredible fireworks display on the 4th!

Fantastic 4th Weekend
Market St., Mt. Carmel
Mt. Carmel shows you how to celebrate the 4th with a weekend of family events. From the parade to the car show, you’ll find lots of reasons to be in Mt. Carmel on this Independence Day Weekend!

Jul. 2, 2015 – Jul. 4, 2015
4th of July
Rt. 50, Steeleville
Have fun with carnival rides, food, live music and beer stand. On July 4th, there will be craft stands before and after the parade, 3K Firecracker race at 9:00 a.m. and fireworks that evening.

July 3
Blast Off Parade and Fireworks
Albers
The parade will line up at American Legion and begin at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks at dusk.

Fireworks
Du Quoin State Fairgrounds

Fireworks
Vandalia Lake
Fireworks will start around 9:15 p.m.

July 3 – 4
Gateway Grizzlies 4th of July Games
GCS Ballpark, Sauget
The games start at 6:35 p.m. with a great fireworks display at the end of the game.

July 4
4th of July
Alhambra
Food & fireworks

Carmi Lion’s Club 8th Annual Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show
White County Fairgrounds, Carmi
The 8th Annual Carmi Lion’s Club Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show will also have tractors, lots of trophies, dash plaques and awards. There will also be a swap meet, craft vendors, food and drinks and fireworks after dark!

4th of July Bike Parade and Celebration
Main Street & American Legion, Columbia
Decorated bikes and creative patriotic costumes ride down historic Main Street to celebrate our country! Later in the day head up to the American Legion to participate in the washer and kloepper tournaments or just enjoy the music and refreshments while you wait for the amazing fireworks display at dusk!

Picnic in the Park
Dupo Community Park
Bring the family and enjoy food, rides, games, live music, washers tournament and a large fireworks display.

4th of July Festival & Fireworks
Flora

Fireworks Display
Glik Par, Highland
Come early to enjoy food from various vendors and fun family activities.

Liberty Bell of the West Patriotic Celebration
201 First St., Kaskaskia
Come out to Kaskaskia and hear and see Patriotic music & tributes, ring bell for Liberty, French Marine Salute, traditional food available and tours.

Old Fashioned July 4th Celebration
Scheve Park, Mascoutah, IL
A hometown celebration to encourage and strengthen the relationship between surrounding communities and the city. The event will have food and craft booths, softball and kickball tournaments, rides, kids’ games, raffle, poker, artisans, music and fireworks.

Fireworks Display
Olney City Park
Fireworks begin at dusk.

4th of July Fireworks
Tri-Township Park, Troy

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Gentlemen, Start Your Engines…Motorsports Revving Up Throughout ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, Motorsports, Sports, Spring, Summer, Tourism Times

Nascar Truck Racing at Gateway Motorsports Park

Nascar Truck Racing at Gateway Motorsports Park

You don’t have to go to Charlotte, Talladega or Daytona for a great auto race. To get in gear, you need only venture across Southern Illinois, from the burgs of Madison to Highland to Flora.

Of course, ladies can start their engines, too. And they don’t have to be named Danica Patrick. Gateway Motorsports Park provides plenty of opportunities for bona fide racers to neophytes—say, a kindergarten teacher or a British squash team—to get behind the wheel of a race-prepped Camaro. Many corporate team-building getaways are held here. Not including karting, 230 events will be held this year at Gateway, within sight of I-55 and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

Driving for Linemen Pace Car - Gateway Motorsports Park

Driving for Linemen Pace Car – Gateway Motorsports Park

Curtis Francois is a racer who’s parlayed his time behind the wheel to owner of the radically refurbished track and stands. Much more happens here than cars speeding around a 1¼-mile paved oval.

“The idea is to make it an entertainment,” says Francois, “and sometimes a race breaks out.”

And the karting is in a different league than what you’d find at an amusement park in Branson. These are built in France, not by Sears. You have no idea how fast these rascals go until you see and hear them up close and personal. Neither could you imagine what it’s like to be among as many as 75,000 roaring fans, even on an 80-inch screen. Want to try it yourself? Try “arrive and drive” at the new Kartplex, located within the oval itself.

April starts the season out at most tracks and speedways, whether you’re in the mood for off-road trucks in Baja-style contests, to every other type of racecar competition, officially sanctioned or not. There’s SCCA racing (Sports Car Club of America) and heart-stopping 1/8-mile NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) drag races. You can thrill to a Grand Am or marvel at pre-1972 muscle car “nostalgia” runs.

Highland Speedway

Highland Speedway

Gateway only reopened a few years ago and work is still going on to add features so would-be racers can get a feel for all racing surfaces, from the classic oval to an impossibly curvy 1½-mile road course… hold on to your stomach!

Compared to new and ever-improving Gateway, Highland Speedway is not far from collecting Social Security. It opened in 1962… and excitement is building for its 54th season. UMP (United Midwestern Promoters) DIRTcar racing here ranges from Street Stocks to KidModz (12-18).

Rt. 45 Raceway

Rt. 45 Raceway

Did we mention that nearly anyone can get involved with this sport?

The racetrack in Clay County, 2½ miles north of Flora, has been renamed Route 45 Raceway. As many as 3,500 can enjoy all classes of UMP DIRTcar racing on the 1/3-mile high-banked dirt track. And would it be auto racing without sponsors and ads on every square inch of car, uniform or grandstand? This season 480-feet of fence will be festooned with 8-foot billboards.

TriCity Speedway

TriCity Speedway

In Pontoon Beach, just south of I-270, Tri-City Speedway is a 3/8-mile dirt oval (as measured 20- feet from the outside wall). The track features 10 degrees banking in the corners and is 70-feet wide all the way around.

Rather watch drivers bust stuff up? Keep tabs on whether a demolition derby will be scheduled somewhere, probably at Belle-Clair Fairgrounds in Belleville. At this writing, plans for the season there were still being formalized.

Yes, racing is exciting, whether you’re watching or participating. But, as Francois says, you don’t have to white-knuckle yourself around tight turns at a high rate of speed. Just focus on the orange cone at the apex of each curve.

As he points out, with a grin: “Racing is more of a geometry problem than guts and gonads.”

For further information, visit:
www.gatewaymsp.com
www.highlandspeedway.com
www.route45raceway.com
www.tricityspeedway.net
www.belleclairspeedway.com

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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Check It Out: Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor Festival

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, Events, Nostalgia, Rt. 66, Summer, What's Happening

BCC logoThe first annual Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor weekend festival – “Miners, Mobsters, and the Mother Road” – will be held Saturday-Sunday, June 13-14. The Blue Carpet Corridor, from Chatham down to Collinsville, is a unique section of Route 66 characterized not only by its Mother Road charm, but also its rich mining history and colorful mobster lore.

BLUE CARPET MAPRoute 66 is known for its quirky attractions, roadside hospitality, and family fun. And on the second weekend in June, the blue carpet will be rolled out to welcome thousands of travelers all along the Blue Carpet Corridor. The event highlights 19 communities on historic Route 66 including Chatham, Auburn, Thayer, Virden, Girard, Nilwood, Carlinville, Gillespie, Benld, Staunton, Hamel, Edwardsville, Litchfield, Mt. Olive, Williamson, Livingston, Glen Carbon, Troy, and Collinsville.

A variety of events and activities awaits visitors in the nineteen participating communities along three historic alignments of the Mother Road. The cities and villages have planned a variety of activities, including festivals, car shows, live entertainment, children’s activities, and historic tours and exhibits. Food stands and eateries will be open for hungry travelers. Innovative museums, towering monuments, historic buildings, and winding stretches of original highway are waiting to be discovered. Visitors can scour antique shops, yard sales, flea markets, and unique mom and pop stores for hidden treasures.

So load the family car, start early, and join us for a whole weekend of fun on the Blue Carpet Corridor on Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14. Don’t forget to bring your camera because photo ops will be plentiful!

Edw Rt 66 festival cars

Each community’s activities and events, as well as local attractions, restaurants, and lodging, can be found on the Blue Carpet Corridor website community pages. For maps, updates, news, and complete event schedules, go to www.bluecarpetcorridor.org and check www.facebook.com/BlueCarpetCorridor for updates.

Get involved! Check out the “Selfies on 66” photo contest open to US residents ages 18+.  For more information, contact the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway at 217-525-9308 or visit www.selfieson66.com today!!!

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