Reed Travel Features
CHICAGO -- Agents can capitalize on Americans' thirst for
Americana by enticing travelers to sample the country charms of
Illinois on motorcoach tours via the state's scenic roadways. The
tours can consist of river cruises, carriage rides, balloon rides
When it comes to the motorcoach portion, however, two of the
most popular routes in the state are the Knox County Scenic Drive
and the adjoining Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive in Fulton County.
Located just west of Peoria, these drives traverse more than 200
miles of some of the best scenery in western Illinois, from
northern Knox County to the southeastern edge of Fulton County,
where the Spoon River meets the Illinois River.
The Carl Sandburg State Historic Site in Knox County is the
frame cottage where the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and Lincoln
biographer was born in 1878. It reflects the living conditions of a
typical late 19th century working-class family and is furnished
with many Sandburg family belongings. In June, the annual "Railroad
Days" at the site celebrates the city's heritage with exhibits and
Visitors can enhance their trips throughout the region by
including an overnight stay in one or more of the communities
within the counties. In Knoxville, for example, clients will find
that museums, log cabins, an old-time jail and a one-room school on
Route 150 are perfect stops for history buffs, as is Yates City's
historical railroad station.
The town of Alton offers many quaint antique shops and an
archery shoot. A superb way for motorcoach travelers to unwind is
with an overnight stay at the nearby Original Springs Hotel in
Okawville, a historical site where guests can soak in a mineral
whirlpool bath or relax with a Swedish massage. Fellheimer Scout
Camp on Spoon River is a favorite for children, with hands-on
activities, crafts and contests.
Several of the towns along the route offer ample opportunity to
bargain hunt for antiques and collectibles, and in Lewistown
visitors can see a blacksmith use traditional techniques to create
Near Lewistown is the Dickson Mounds National Historic Site.
Located on the site of a Native American burial ground, the Dickson
Mounds Museum is one of the few on-site archaeological museums in
In addition to these drives, western Illinois boasts spectacular
views of the Mississippi River. The Great River Road, which runs
more than 550 miles along the river from East Dubuque to Cairo,
offers great views from every curve.
Chicago's famed skyline and its 29 miles of lakefront parks
create a spectacular sight. Nearby Long Grove offers a unique way
to tour: horse-drawn carriage rides through the village.Visitors to
Oak Park can walk down quiet, tree-lined streets and observe
examples of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright.
For visitors who want a more rural experience, northern Illinois
farms provide a country getaway. Walks through the parks and trails
of northern Illinois offer abundant opportunities to enjoy
The Illinois & Michigan Canal State Park, near Joliet,
allows hikers and cyclists access to a 60-mile, off-road route
among hills, bluffs and watersides. This can work up clients'
appetites, which can be satisfied by Northern Illinois home
cooking. The new Gourmet Ramble, a trail of eateries throughout Jo
Daviess County, offers a combination of city sophistication and
Visitors along the ramble can indulge in original apple jack
cheese, a mild blend of Monterey jack, cheddar and Swiss cheeses
developed at the Warren Cheese Plant. The Woodshed in Elizabeth
takes visitors back in time by serving breakfast like Grandma used
to make: a home-style country feast of eggs, sausage, bacon and
pancakes. A day spent sampling Bishops Store's dried fruits and
locally harvested black walnuts in Elizabeth ends best with an
evening of rest and relaxation at the Ridgeview Bed &
Illinois' southern tip is rich in natural wonders, among them
Shawnee National Forest, home to more than a quarter-million acres
of undeveloped land that is a haven for boating, camping, hiking
and rock climbing. Accommodations are available in the Cave-in-Rock
Restaurant and Lodge, located in the heart of Shawnee National
More information on booking clients on motorcoach tours in
Illinois is available by calling the Illinois Travel Counseling
System at (800) 2-CONNECT. The organization also has a Web site,
that can be found at http://www.enjoyillinois.com.