Unique Group Activities in Central Illinois

Activities, Illinois Tour Planner

Looking for things to do in Central Illinois? From wildlife attractions and railway museums to intriguing historic sites, there are plenty of activities to keep groups busy

Must-do list of Central Illinois activities:

  • Kickapoo State Recreation Area
  • Epiphany Farms Estate
  • The Monticello Railway Museum
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
  • Old State Capitol

Central Illinois is home to captivating attractions and enticing experiences that will excite any group traveler. From its historic landmarks to its natural beauty, Central Illinois has something for everyone.

Arcola is home to the Aikman Wildlife Adventure, a family-owned, family-friendly zoo that features more than 200 animals. Aikman gives guests the opportunity to not only walk through the park, but drive through a designated path to peek into the enclosures. Housing many species of exotic and domestic animals, this zoo offers an exciting and educational experience for visitors. Wagon rides are available for animal feeding and group tours.

Arthur is a town packed full of culture and the feeling of home. Travel to Arthur to see shops like Countryside Amish Furniture to view the beauty in the homemade items that are being sold in town, enjoy the home-made food at Yoder’s Kitchen and explore the connected Amish Country to learn more about the culture that flourishes in this town.

Located in Champaign, The William M. Staerkel Planetarium sits as the second largest planetarium in Illinois. It offers educational and immersive shows revolving around the planets and the solar system including many shows that can be reserved based off of grade level and age.

Danville is home to the Vermilion County Museum, which was built as a replica of the 1833 county courthouse where President Abraham Lincoln practiced law from 1841 to 1859. The museum gives guests the experience of wandering the halls and rooms where our 16th president stayed. Original furniture and artwork decorate the historical house still. Exhibits include the Lincoln Law Office in Danville, a schoolhouse, coal mine shaft and more. Guests have the opportunity to learn more about the past president and his host, William Fithian, during their visit. Bus tours and other tour groups are welcome.

Those seeking to savor the great outdoors can visit Kickapoo State Recreation Area, located just outside of Danville, which offers a large variety of activities for any group excursion. Experience the best of nature by enjoying the familial and convivial aura of canoeing, mountain biking, picnics, and camping. Build bonds with nightly bonfires and star viewing. Equipment for biking, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding are available on site so packing and travel are easy. Visiting in winter? Kickapoo State Recreation Area offers many snowy activities, including skiing, sledding, ice fishing and ice skating.

Epiphany Farms

Epiphany Farms

In the city of Downs, resides The Epiphany Farms Estate. This farm specializes in a farm-to-table experience and operates in sustainable and eco-friendly agricultural methods when raising crops and animals. This farm hosts a number of events and tours throughout the year and groups are taken on a tour of the farm to view and learn about how the estate operates. Groups can also make the short drive into Bloomington to enjoy the fruits of the farms labor for dinner at Epiphany Farms Restaurant.

In Monticello, groups can visit the Allerton Park and Retreat Center, a 1,517-acre park, nature center and conference center. Surrounded by vast gardens decorated with timeless pieces of art, the Allerton stands alone in its historical beauty. Groups can stay in one of the 41 antiquely decorated rooms on site or register for one of the three houses scattered among the estate. Each house has multiple rooms that vary in size but provide a rewarding and comfortable stay. Among its many amenities, this estate offers options for dining that are sure to please any group. Have a peaceful breakfast or lunch at the Greenhouse Café, whose cottage-like atmosphere and green surrounding scenery provide a way for guests to enjoy the beautiful Illinois breeze. Groups can also sign up for one of the mansion’s incredible tours and attend garden tours and full-moon hikes.

Railway Museum

Monticello Railway Museum

The Monticello Railway Museum was founded in 1966 and has since been used for public viewing and train rides. Enjoy a ride in vintage train cars to the museum where you are encouraged to explore the train car exhibits and learn more about their history. If checked ahead of time, groups can ride on Steam Locomotive Southern No. 401, which only runs once a month. The museum hosts many events based on holiday and seasonal influence.

Located in Petersburg, the Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site is a furnished beacon of the town that President Lincoln spent six years of his life. Images of log-built buildings and wood-crafted furniture decorates the streets of the town and the walls of the homes. Some of the things you can expect to see in a visit to the site include the school house, Miller’s Blacksmith Shop and an equestrian statue that shows the past president riding a horse with a book in hand. Historically, this site would please any group as it grabs the imagination from the moment you enter until the moment you exit.

Lincoln Museum

Lincoln Museum

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield gives guests the ability to learn more about the 16th president through artifacts, stories and exhibits. Groups can walk through the Plaza and get pictures with Abraham Lincoln’s family before heading off to see The Treasure’s Gallery, which is home to artifacts and photos that used to belong to the Lincoln Family. Children can play in Mrs. Lincoln’s attic where they can don a dress just like hers and play with various, educational Abraham Lincoln toys.


Lincoln Home

As a part of one of Illinois’ National Historic sites, The Lincoln Home sits in Springfield as one of the most popular museums to visit. The Lincoln Home was built in 1839 and since its opening to the public it has been restored to all of its 1860 glory. Some of the rooms that can be expected to be seen during tours include Abraham Lincoln’s bedroom, the formal parlor and the kitchen. Groups will get to see these historically decorated and preserved rooms while learning about Lincoln and the history of his family and his professional endeavors.

Springfield is a celebrated capital city with many opportunities to visit some of the oldest and most historically prominent buildings in Illinois. The Old State Capitol has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and features incredible historical context within the life of President Lincoln. In these halls is where Lincoln gave his famous speech to the House of Representatives in 1858, where he stationed his presidential campaign in 1860, and where he was honored and laid to state after his assassination in 1865. Groups can take a personnel tour or have the option to watch an introductory video and navigate through the building themselves.

The Oakridge Cemetery, located in Springfield, is the resting place and memorial of Lincoln, his wife, and three of his sons. This memorial is decorated with statues, plaques engraved with Lincoln’s words, and flags to honor and mark the tombs. Guests can walk through the memorial and read some of Lincoln’s speeches while paying homage to him, his works, and his family. This location is great for groups to learn more about our nation’s 16th president.

The Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum is located on famous Route 66 and contains one of the world’s greatest collections of Pontiac and Oakland automobile brand items. The museum features a collection of different forms of memorabilia such as model cars, books or magazines and old motor oil cans.

For more travel ideas, download our current issue of Leisure Travel Guide.

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