Fall Road Trip Ideas in Southwest Illinois


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Get in the car and take a road trip to southwest Illinois this fall and experience stunning fall colored walks, scenic river cruises, self-picking orchard adventures, and spectacularly spooky haunted tours.

When it comes to fall, the Great Rivers & Routes area has more than its share of fun, adventure and relaxation getaways right at your fingertips.

“Fall is definitely a great time to visit southwest Illinois and the Great Rivers & Routes area,” says Cory Jobe, president and CEO of the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau. “We are the perfect destination for a weekday getaway and a weekend getaway. There is so much to do here – from outdoor adventures and haunted tours, to U Pick orchards and historical reenactments. We focus on encouraging people to visit us midweek and enjoy the same weekend experiences.

Enjoy a scenic cruise along the Mississippi River aboard the classic Spirit of Peoria, an authentic river boat with paddle wheels. Morning and afternoon tours and lunch cruises are available on Wednesday September 22 and Wednesday October 6.


Sightseeing cruises last approximately 90 minutes while lunch cruises last two hours and include a full lunch served on board the ship. For tickets, please visit: https://www.riversandroutes.com/things-to-do/buy-tickets/

The Hakuna Matata Tour boat, departing from Grafton Harbor in downtown Grafton, also offers weekly fall cruises and specialty themed cruises. Boat rental is also available at Grafton Harbor.

There is nothing quite like heading out to local farms and orchards and having your pick of crunchy and juicy apples or the perfect pumpkin. From Carlinville to Edwardsville, from Hardin to St. Jacob, dozens of orchards, farms and roadside stalls are open and teeming with fall fruits, apple cider, plants, flowers and vegetables. ‘fall. A full list of orchards and farms open for the Fall U Pick season can be found here: https://www.riversandroutes.com/things-to-do/outdoors-and-recreation/orchards-and-gardens/

Lose yourself in St. Jacob in the region’s largest corn maze. DeMange Farms in St. Jacob is home to a 15 acre maze full of wild turns and dead ends. Don’t worry – there are special tips inside to help everyone reach the end. DeMange Farms also has a one-acre mini-maze for the kids. In addition to the corn maze, don’t forget to visit the U-pick pumpkin patch, corn pit and hay fort for even more fun.

Fall is the season when downtown Alton comes alive with tales of spirits and ghosts, hauntings and fantastic tales. After all, the historic riverside town is considered “America’s most haunted little town.”

Join the guides on Alton’s hauntings for walking tours of downtown Alton. The walks are based on the Haunted Alton book by Troy Taylor and offer entertaining and breathtaking journeys into the unknown. Or hop aboard a wagon and enjoy a Haunted Dinner – Eat with the Entities, a Bare Bones Tour, or a Late Night Witching Hour Tour, all offered by Alton’s Haunted Odyssey Tours.

Also on tap are Haunted Craft Beer Walks. Sip a five-ounce glass of beer at five different haunted stops in downtown Alton on Saturdays in October. Each stop includes a different flavor of beer from the local craft brewery, Old Bakery Beer.

A visit to historically haunted places McPike Mansion is a must have for any haunted aficionado. With reports of over 11 spirits living in the towering, vacant house, be sure to see for yourself during the weekend’s events which include a darkroom session to speak to the spirits on site. For more information on haunted activities, visit: https://www.riversandroutes.com/events/

Rediscover the history of the region with the Great Rivers & Routes Underground railway tours. These monthly shuttle tours feature Underground Railroad historian and guide Eric Robinson, who provides compelling insight into the role Alton and the local region played in helping the slaves escape to freedom.

There are still places available on Underground railway tours September 25, October 9 and November 6. Tickets cost $ 27.50 per person and last approximately two hours. All tours start and end at the Alton Visitor Center, 200 Piasa St., Alton. Tickets are available here: https://www.riversandroutes.com/things-to-do/buy-tickets/?fbclid=IwAR3i8S9dX-7d5WrQb30YcQ3my6dJVB4Vkh_GqyU9Npifl0KMIMnH5V9iBGs

The fall color rides along the Great Rivers Reunion National Scenic Drive between Alton and Grafton are the highlight of any Southwest Illinois road trip.

With the sparkling waters of the mighty Mississippi on one side of the road and the towering limestone cliffs covered in vibrantly colored trees – fierce reds, vivid oranges, rustic browns, and electric yellows – on the other, these roads are considered a prime destination for fall colors. and among the best in the United States.

The newly released GO Guide Fall / Winter, produced by the Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau, highlights three different fall colors. Rides include river views, country loops, and a ferry ride from the Illinois River to Calhoun County for epic panoramic views. The new GO Fall / Winter guide can be downloaded here: https://www.riversandroutes.com/plan/visitor-guide/

While colors typically peak at the end of October, updates on the changing colors are available at RiversandRoutes.com.

For more fall road trip ideas, please visit: RiversandRoutes.com

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