6 Day Trips in Middle Illinois

October 11th, 2020 by

Whatever brings you to Illinois, whether it’s work, family, or vacation, there are many fun and informative things you can do while you’re here. Perhaps you’ve lived in Illinois all your life but have never really taken the opportunity to explore the history and landscape of your home state. If you need some day trip ideas, here’s a selection of places you should include on your list.

Central Park, Jacksonville

Located about 40 minutes east of Springfield, the city of Jacksonville has a lot to offer, especially if you love history. At the heart of Jacksonville is Central Park, where Abraham Lincoln gave a strong speech opposing slavery in 1856, five years before he took office as president. A mural depicting the event adorns the side of a building in the downtown square.

The centerpiece of the park is a Civil War monument honoring the role of women during wartime. You will also find a Civil War cannon, as well as locally made Ferris wheel seats, turned into park benches.

Be sure to check out the various Underground Railroad stops around the city. These stops were safe houses for slaves escaping to free states, or to Canada, that have been preserved and are open to the public.

Marcoot Jersey Creamery, Greenville

Neighboring Wisconsin doesn’t have a monopoly on fine cheeses. Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville, Illinois, boasts over 15 varieties of cheeses including gouda, white cheddar, creamy Havarti, and mozzarella. Additionally, if you can’t get enough of Marcoot’s cheeses, you can join their ‘cheese of the month’ club to keep the different varieties coming to your door. But there’s more than cheese at the creamery. You can indulge in their fresh, hand-dipped ice cream, or enjoy their ‘Extreme Ice’ made from fresh whey and mixed fruit. They also offer beef products such as strip steaks and filets, as well as clover honey.

If you’re interested in the inner workings of a farm, you can take a tour and see the cheese-making process up close or watch cows being milked. Open tours run daily at 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. Saturdays from April 1 to Dec. 31. The cost is $5 per person for everyone over 2 years old.


6 Day Trips in Middle ILImage via Flickr by foot fingers

In 1839, Joseph Smith and the members of his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints left Missouri and purchased a small town called Commerce, Illinois, renaming it Nauvoo. It was from Nauvoo that church leader Brigham Young later led the LDS faithful to Salt Lake City. This history makes Nauvoo a must-see for anyone with an interest in the LDS church or American religious history. You can visit a brickyard to see how the red bricks that built the original houses were made or tour Brigham Young’s home, which has been restored with period furniture and family artifacts.

This historic town also has replica houses and shops, as well as gardens and cemeteries to visit. You can watch demonstrations of mid-nineteenth century crafts and visit the majestic temple. However, only LDS church members are allowed inside.

Anderson Japanese Gardens

If your idea of a day trip is to get away from the noise and bustle of life, you’re looking for the peace and serenity of the Anderson Japanese Gardens. Designed with great care and respect to authenticity, these gardens are a work of natural art that promotes calmness, refreshment, and discovery. You’ll see fountains, landscaped paths, a Zen rock garden, and koi ponds (you can buy food for the fish at the gift shop). The trails are easy to walk and fully accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.

Anderson Japanese Gardens is in Rockford, a city in northern Illinois about 20 miles south of the Wisconsin state line. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, May 1 through Oct. 31. Admission is $11 for adults, $10 for seniors, $9 for students, and free for members and children under 5 years old.

Aikman Wildlife Adventure, Arcola

Awesome Day Trips in Illinois on United Chevrolet Car blog Jacksonville ILImage via Flickr by Stebbing

Since 2015, the Aikman family has operated their safari and walk-through wildlife park as a family-friendly animal adventure. You can drive the mile-long safari and see large animals from emus to camels and zebus to zebras in an open environment. For a more up-close encounter with smaller animals, the walk-through gives you an opportunity to meet ostriches, iguanas, lemurs, and pythons, among others. If your interest is in prehistoric animals, there’s also a museum with life-size replicas of ancient wildlife such as the Arctodus, the Deodon, and the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Aikman Wildlife Adventure is located between Arcola and Arthur, Illinois. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, they are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. After Labor Day, they are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The park is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Admission prices vary for each adventure. The drive-through and walkthrough package costs $8 for kids 3 to 12 years old and $11 for those 13 and older.

Shawnee Hills Wine Trail

If you enjoy wine and fancy a day trip with a twist, try the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. This trail consists of 11 wineries that lie on a 40-mile stretch of road and offer a variety of wines for you to sample, all set within the rolling hills of the Shawnee National Forest. It’s not all about the wine, however. Along the trail, you can stop at specialty shops, restaurants, and art galleries. There are also unique inns and cabins available should you want to stay a little longer.

Check the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail website for maps and event details.

These are just some of the fun and fascinating day trips you can take while visiting Illinois, brought to you by United Chevrolet Buick GMC. If we missed your favorite, get in touch with us and let us know so we can add it to the list.

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