Visitors Guide to Area Attractions
in the Elsah and Grafton Area
Jersey County, Illinois
   
Grafton and Elsah are real river towns tracing their roots to the 19th century. Grafton, once a town relying on boat construction, has remade itself into a tourist destination with its many amenities and local attractions. In 1973 the entire town of Elsah was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Both towns, lying in the center of the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway area, are the sites of the area's two great seasonal attractions - Fall Colors from late September to the end of October, and Bald Eagles from late December to early March. Just west of Grafton is Pere Marquette State Park, the largest state park in Illinois. 
   
  River Ferries
The advent of railroads and bridges put most ferries out of business along the Mississippi River, but the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway area has one of the highest concentration of riverboat ferries in the country. The four ferries that cross the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers into Calhoun and Jersey Counties in Illinois and St. Charles County, Missouri can save time as well as providing scenic river views. The two ferries that cross the Illinois River are free of charge.
  Elsah Historic District
Set in a valley along the Mississippi River between Alton and Grafton, Elsah is often called the "town that time forgot" and in 1973 the entire town was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although Elsah has been described as the "New England of the Midwest," the village is not a New England prototype derived from 18th century colonial styles. Rather the architecture found in Elsah demonstrates a number of different 19th century styles. The town has put together a virtual tour that provides visitors with a unique look into Elsah’s past, with its narrow streets, limestone and brick houses, and beautiful gardens.

Pere Marquette State Park
5 miles west of Grafton
on Route 100
618-786-3323
  Pere Marquette is Illinois' largest state park and is famous for the beauty of its fall colors and as a home for bald eagles in the winter. The park offers its visitors diverse recreational and educational opportunities that encompass the past, present and future. The new Visitors Center provides displays that cover the region’s history and the types of environments the visitor can encounter as well as housing informative interpretative programs. The park has 10 hiking trails that traverse a variety of terrains and horseback riding is offered during the warmer months. The park has year round electric and basic campgrounds. The Lodge consists of both new facilities as well as those constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. All this and more makes Pere Marquette State Park a great place to explore!
   
TreeHouse Wildlife Center
23956 Green Acres Road
Dow, IL
618-466-2990
  The TreeHouse Wildlife Center sits on approximately eight beautiful acres near the rural town of Dow. It's become an ideal environment for injured or orphaned animals that need time to recuperate. The property features large outdoor cages for raptors such as eagles, hawks, and owls and mammals like coyotes, indoor havens for permanents residents, and a pond for waterfowl. The Center is open daily to visitors and also offers outreach programs and groups tours.
   
The Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail
Jersey and Madison Counties, IL
  The Vadalabene Trail is approximately 20 miles of level paved trail that parallels the Great River Road and the center portion of the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway. The trail is named after Sam M. Vadalabene, an Illinois State Senator and proponent of the trail and begins in Alton, travels through the river towns of Elsah and Grafton, and ends at Pere Marquette State Park. Riders, walkers, and joggers will see prairie wildflowers along the trail as well as flowering trees during the spring. Brilliant reds, yellows and oranges compliment the scenery in the fall. For those willing to brave the elements in the winter months should be able to see Bald Eagles soaring over the river and bluffs, or floating down the river on chunks of ice.
   
Village of Elsah Museum
26 La Salle Street
PO Box 117
618-374-1059
  Located in the Elsah Village Hall, which was erected in 1887, and operated by the Village of Elsah and the Historic Elsah Foundation, the Village of Elsah Museum covers the history of the town from its founding by James Semple in 1853. Visitors will find exhibits covering the varied architectural styles found throughout the town, Principia College, nearby New Piasa Chautauqua, and tools and other implements used by past residents. Special exhibits are held periodically.
Grafton Harbor Boat Rentals
215 West Water Street
Grafton, IL
618-786-7678
  Grafton Harbor offers a variety of boats for Pontoon Boats and Runabouts for rental. The boats can be rented out in 2, 4, and 8 hour time periods. The fuel surcharge, which is additional, varies with watercraft. All boats are available for guaranteed reservation.
Grafton Harbor Floating Winery
215 West Water Street
Grafton, IL
618-786-7678
  Welcome to Grafton Harbor - or as we like to call it, “The Key West of the Midwest”. Here you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the musical melodies of the great Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and the natural beauty of the majestic palasading bluffs along “The Great River Road.”
Grafton Winery & Brewhaus
300 West Main Street
Grafton, IL
618-786-3001
  The Grafton Winery is a full production winery overlooking the beautiful Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Whether you are regular wine novas or you have never visited a winery, there is something for everyone. We are committed to providing our guests with the best quality products, service and overall experience.
Hakuna Matata Tour Boat
215 West Water Street
Grafton, IL
618-786-7678
  Hakuna Matata is an all-weather tour boat that can take you on an adventure on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. The first level is fully enclosed. The upper deck is a huge open air patio offering 360 degree panoramic views. The boat features a cash bar, light snacks and souvenirs.
Loading Dock Ice Rink
401 East Front Street
Grafton, IL
618-786-3494
  An ice skating rink located inside the historic Boatworks building offers semi-outdoor ice skating fun for the entire family. Skate rental is available. Open from late November until early March. Regular hours are from Noon – 10 pm on Friday and Saturday, Noon - 8 pm on Sundays.
Raging Rivers Water Park
100 Palisades Parkway
Grafton, IL
618-786-2345
  This 28-acre water theme park located on the Great River Road provides quality family-friendly entertainment to all age groups from the toddlers in Itty Bitty Surf City to adults of all ages in Breaker Beach Wave Pool plus many other attractions. Raging Rivers Water Park is open Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Aerie's Riverview Winery
Grafton, IL
  600 Timber Ridge Drive
618-786-8439
 
 
Eckert Farms
Grafton, IL
 
  Otterville Road
618-786-3445
 
 
Grafton Zip Lines & Adventures
Grafton, IL
  800 Timber Ridge Drive
618-786-8439
  
 
The Great Rose Pirate Ship
Grafton, IL
 
  314-477-5658 
 
Principia School of
Nations Museum
Elsah, IL
  Maybeck Place
618-374-5236
     
Nearby Attractions

Alton Area
  Southwest of the Grafton/Elsah area is the city of Alton, the largest city in the Scenic Byway area. Alton is the home of several Civil War related sites, as well as the Alton Museum of History and Art, Robert Wadlow (the world's tallest man,) and several historic districts. In Godfrey, visitors can find 300 acres of tall-grass prairie and woodlands at the Olin Nature Preserve. Crossing the Mississippi via the Clark Bridge leads to the Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area.

Calhoun County
  West of Grafton lies Calhoun County which is almost completely surrounded by water. The 4 ferries connecting Calhoun County with the rest of the region provide an interesting mode of transportation. Sites in the area include the Brussels Historic District, the Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge, and the Center for American Archeology in Kampsville.

Jerseyville Area
  Northeast of Grafton lies the towns of Jerseyville and Otterville. Visit the Historic Courthouse Square, the Fulkerson Mansion, and the Cheney House in Jerseyville. The Hamilton Primary School, the first integrated school in the country, is in Otterville.
     
For Travelers Heading Across the River
  Meeting the Missouri River
The two longest rivers of the United States, the Missouri and the Mississippi, meet at St. Charles County, Missouri. The Historic St. Charles downtown area offers visitors a variety of attractions including the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center, The Foundry Art Centre, and Missouri’s First State Capitol. Nearby is Confluence State Park and the Daniel Boone Home.
   
FEATURED ATTRACTIONS ALONG THE GREAT RIVER ROAD
Historic
Elsah, Illinois
Sam Vadalabene
Bike Trail
Jacoby Arts Center
Alton, Illinois
Cahokia Mounds
State Historic Site
     



 
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