Contributed by feature reporter Jens Hoffmann
Ilinois is located in the Midwest, the US-state offers a lot of agriculture, a wide, flat “fly-over-land”. But Ilinois is also a place for explorers and connoisseurs with scenic corners, interesting places, over 300 golf courses and Abraham Lincoln as the most famous citizen, he lived here 30 years before he was elected US President and moved to Washington in the White House.
Great River Road in Illinois in the heart of America. It represents four centuries of history and heritage, a compilation of thousands of stories that paints the picture of America’s evolution. Its 550-mile route on Illinois’ western border offers breathtaking views and majestic landscapes that inspire and soothe the soul.
The capital of Illinois is Chicago. The huge city is famous for its skyscrapers. We only saw them from far away, the object of our desire was the countryside.
Our road trip took us through Alton, Quincy, Nauvoo, Quad Cities, Galena and Rockford.
The Missisisipi, fields, golf courses and lawn merge into a picturesque landscape.
Historical towns, ancient civilizations can be found here.
I was fascinated by the prehistoric Indian city of Cahokia and its world-famous mouds. The remains of the ancient Indian civilization of Cahokia Mounds (part of the UNESCO World Heritage) are unique.
Cahokia was the ceremonial center of the Mississipi Indians with more than 15 square kilometers and 40,000 inhabitants. The park in which the former city is located still contains 70 gigantic mounds. The exact function of the mounds are not known, probably for the tribal chiefs graves.
Almost all the attractions are surrounded by the Mississippi, many visitors think when they hear of the Mississippi about the South, Louisiana and New Orleans.
In fact, the start of the Mississippi is in the north and the nearly 4,000-kilometer-long river flows through eight US-States. Steamboat and motorboat rivervruises are possible in Illinois.
Visitors looking for active relaxation should play golf.
Illinois is home to over 300 golf courses and some of America’s most beautiful courses
For me it was a beautiful day of, 12.10pm tea-off on the Aldeen Course in Rockford. 18 holes between trees, lots of water and beautiful sunshine. What a wonderful day.
Illinois is a unique golf destination.
Real American small town adventures and attractions meet history, and great nature experiences. Big farms and fast food culture go hand in hand with fine local restaurants, craft beer breweries and small distilleries.
Actually, it does not matter in which direction you drive. We started from St. Louis and drove towards Chicago.
In the meantime, I’ve lost track of something but we visited Rockford Galena – Moline / Quad Cities – Nauvoo – Quincy – Alton. From the Mississippi town of Alton, which is opposite St. Louis, you can also switch to the legendary Route 66.
The “Easy Rider feeling” is easy to found here. At Kegel’s Harley Davidson with its huge selection of Harley Davidson motorcycles or a visit @ biker pub Poopy’s in Savanna belongs on every “Easy Rider” bucket list.
There are many nature experiences in Illinois. The Mississippi is bathed in soft light by the rising sun. A postcard kitsch idyll lies before my eyes.
A bird sanctuary, eagles come to breed and overwinter. The world seems to be in order here.
The eagles stay at the huge lock at Melvin Price Locks & Dam in Alton to find food. Absolutely great to visit, it’s worth it.
Also Galena is worth a visit, the former mining town has already been awarded as one of the most beautiful places in the US. In Moline in the Quad Cities, you can learn about the history of John Deere and its agricultural machinery.
The city Quincy is a real surprise. Perfect to explore the city by bike. Our tour guide showed us everything: a craft brewery, an old German bakery.
You can also find many beautiful houses and magnificent villas in the city. The perfect lunch is available at the Maid-Rite. Unlike a “normal” hamburger, crumbled cooked minced meat and other ingredients are served on a bread roll.
“Maid-Rite” invented this sandwich in 1926, now it is eaten all over the USA.
Together with a hot chili soup. Fantastic.
In Moline we jumped on the Celebration Belle, a real steamboat. Here I got my original Missisippi experience even when we drank gin & tonic and no bourbon on board.
The best fried chicken is available at Castelli’s, also in Alton
During my next Illinois visit, I will check in at the Jail Hill Inn in Galena.
A elegant hotel with only 6 rooms, in a historic building that served as a prison until 1977. Today, instead of handcuffs, water and bread, guests can enjoy champagne and pralines for breakfast. Solid luxury in a great atmosphere. Because of its location, the myth and its importance an exciting overnight alternative.
My favourite hotel is the Starwood Element in Moline, a luxury old warehouse.
Rest in style, I felt at home in the huge room with lots of concrete and sophisticared design.
The just opened hotel will retain its status as the finest luxury hotel in Moline for sure.
The breakfast buffet presented itself was a masterpiece: lots of fruit, cakes, cereal with homemade yoghurt, smoothies, fried bacon with egg, pancakes and an interesting selection of cheese. G
You can also check-in at the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel. When you enter the hotel, you almost feel like you are in Ireland. For the nightcap, I got a nice Guinness beer.
On Chestnut Mountain the Chestnut Mountain Resort offers great views across the Mississippi.
Anyone interested in Jazz music should visit the house where Miles Davis was born – before his family moved to St. Louis – in Alton.
Wort a visit is the Coronado Theater (bult in 1927) in Rockford.
In Illinois you will find extraordinary experiences that make a trip unforgettable.
I will be back soon.
Golf Aldeen 18-hole Rockford
Tourismus „All Around Alton“ Illinois
John Deere Fabrik
Mississippi stemaboat river cruise
The press trip was supported by Great Rivers Illinois, Rockford Illinois und Clausen Communications.
Photos: Helmut Etzkorn & Jens Hoffmann