Illinois Itinerary: Great River Road Tour in Illinois
The Itinerary at a Glance
The Great River Road offers spectacular sights in any season with stunning views of the expansive Mighty Mississippi. Begin in the historic town of Nauvoo, IL, offering complimentary tours of over 40 sites year-round, horse-drawn wagon rides, as well as Illinois’ oldest winery and the most bountiful buffet in Western Illinois. Meander to the gem city of Quincy where the illuminated cable-stayed Bayview Bridge soars above the river and bay, casting an ever-changing light show nightly.
3 Unique Experience on This Trip
- Villa Kathrine
- Hotel Nauvoo
- Underbrink’s Bakery
Duration: 2 Days
This Itinerary is Ideal For: Adults over 21
Joseph Smith Historic Sites & Hotel Nauvoo Buffet
Travel America’s north-south 1938 transcontinental byway, the Great River Road, taking in the sweeping views of the Mississippi with its giant lily pads and abundant wildlife. Tour the Historic Nauvoo Visitors Center and grounds. Explore the exquisite Monument to Women Gardens on two meticulously manicured acres of flora and poignant statues depicting women at various stages of life.
Join the driving tour down Parley Street past the Trail of Hope (Avenue of Tears) through the Joseph Smith Historic Sites. Hear the history of the Icarians and Germans as they migrated to Nauvoo during the drive through Nauvoo State Park where the oldest Concord grape vines are still producing grapes. Nauvoo was once known as the Grape Capital of Illinois.
Lunch at one of Nauvoo’s quaint restaurants, followed by a walking tour of Historic Mulholland Street, including the Weld House Museum. Tour historic sites of Main Street, including the Nauvoo Brickyard, Scovil Bakery, Family Living Center with hands-on demonstrations, Tinsmith Shop, the Post Office, Cultural Hall and Blacksmith Shop.
Tour the 1840’s Historic District via the complimentary horse-drawn wagon ride. Hear the stories of the early settlers by tour hosts dressed in period clothing. See the restored homes, businesses and sites in the Flats of Historic Nauvoo as they existed over a century ago.
Dine at the Hotel Nauvoo, nationally known for its award-winning buffet, with five dining rooms, each reflecting a different era of Nauvoo’s rich history.
Relax with a nightcap at Illinois’ oldest winery, Baxter’s Vineyard & Wine Barrel before retiring at one of Nauvoo’s group-friendly accommodations. Baxter’s was featured on the Food Network’s Alton Browning Feasting on Asphalt Series in 2007.
The long and winding Great River Road leads to the pretty city of Quincy, IL on the bay, offering a mix of cultural, historical and natural diversity and beauty.
On the north edge of the town is the 1930s Preserving Agriculture Museum in a scenic rural setting. The museum contains a privately owned 45-piece collection of John Deere implements, as well as household items typical of a 1930s farmstead. Groups thoroughly enjoy this educational and free tour.
A few miles down the road reveals the Villa Kathrine (Great River Road Stop #26), a Mediterranean castle built in 1900 overlooking the Mississippi bluffs. Once residence to world traveler Georg Metz, the home is now Quincy’s Information Center and a touring museum.
Lunch at a Quincy riverfront or downtown restaurant before continuing to historic Lock & Dam 21, covering over 1,000 acres and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Eagles have been wintering at this impressive spot since 1938. Park rangers give an exploratory tour of the workings of the system.
Experience a behind-the-scenes tour accompanied by a sweet sampler tray at Underbrink’s Bakery, a working German bakery established in 1929. The current owner of a quarter of a century still utilizes the original “formulas” and provides an interesting tour of the kitchen, while packing a treat for the road.
Adjacent to the bakery proudly stands St. Francis Catholic Church, an ornate Gothic Revival beauty built in 1884. Tour the stunning sanctuary adorned with elaborate murals and white marble.
Peruse the city with a knowledgeable step-on guide, stopping at one or more homes on the Private Home Tours of Quincy. These tours offer groups a customized guided viewing of exceptional architecturally significant homes in the East End Historic District.
Enjoy dinner at one of Quincy’s locally owned establishments, from which there are over 70 to choose. Catch an evening show or concert in the park or at one of Quincy’s unique music or art venues before one final stop at the illuminated Bayview Bridge.