For Family-Friendly Activities

The Illinois River Road is made for family fun, combining natural beauty, recreational activities, and cultural experiences for an unforgettable journey through this scenic region.

We recommend calling or visiting each website for up-to-date information on hours of operation, etc.

Northern Leg of the Byway

North Utica

Grand Bear Resort is a picturesque retreat nestled amidst the scenic beauty of Starved Rock State Park. The resort offers a range of accommodations, including cozy cabins and spacious villas, perfect for families and groups. Guests can enjoy an array of amenities, including an indoor waterpark with slides, lazy rivers, and splash areas, providing endless fun for all ages.

Oglesby

Located between Ottawa and LaSalle, Starved Rock State Park is one of the premier natural areas in the Midwest. Fifteen miles of trails traverse old growth forests and sandstone bluffs with an amazing diversity of trees and wildflowers. With a visitor's center, boat launch, kayaking, guided hikes, campground, playground and more, there's no shortage of fun to be had.

LaSalle County

Approximately 4 miles south of Utica and 3 miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen State Park offers a plethora of family-friendly activities amidst its stunning natural beauty. Families can explore trails winding through canyons, along streams, and through lush forests. Be sure to keep an eye out for the diverse array of wildlife that calls Matthiessen State Park home. Check the park's schedule for any educational programs or guided tours tailored for families.

Ottawa

The Saint Genevieve Riverboat offers a unique and memorable experience for families looking to explore the Illinois River. This authentic paddlewheel riverboat provides scenic cruises along the tranquil waters of the Illinois River, showcasing the region's natural beauty and rich history. Check out the schedule for narrated tours provide insights into the area's cultural heritage, wildlife, and notable landmarks, making each cruise both educational and entertaining.

Central Leg of the Byway

Peoria

Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum provides engaging exhibits and activities ideal for families with young children.

Peoria

The Peoria Riverfront Museum is the largest and best-known museum in town. Here, visitors can explore an array of exhibits from fine art to science and technology. Visitors to the Dome Planetarium can explore the universe.

Peoria

Bicycle Safety Town is a unique educational facility designed to teach children about bike safety in a fun and interactive way. This miniature town features streets, intersections, traffic signals, and road signs, allowing children to learn and practice safe biking behaviors. Bicycle Safety Town provides a safe and engaging space for children to develop confidence and awareness while riding bicycles.

Peoria

Spread across 14 acres, the Peoria Zoo is home to over 100 species of animals from around the world. Visitors can explore exhibits showcasing a diverse array of creatures, including lions, tigers, giraffes, primates, reptiles, and more. The zoo also features interactive experiences, educational programs, and special events designed to engage visitors of all ages.

Dunlap

The Wheels O’ Time Museum is a train and car enthusiast’s paradise, boasting over 20,000 square feet of train cars, classic cars, motorcycles and other vintage vehicles from early 1900s steam-powered to modern muscle cars. 

Hanna City

Wildlife Prairie Park is a sprawling nature reserve and wildlife sanctuary encompassing over 2,000 acres of diverse ecosystems. This expansive park offers visitors the opportunity to explore natural habitats native to Illinois. Home to a variety of indigenous wildlife, such as bison, elk, wolves, bears, cougars, and birds of prey, the park provides unique opportunities for wildlife viewing. Visitors can traverse the park's network of hiking trails, participate in educational programs and guided tours, and enjoy recreational activities such as fishing, camping, and picnicking. Wildlife Prairie Park offers an immersive and educational experience for nature enthusiasts of all ages.

Chillicothe

Nestled along the banks of the Illinois River, Santa Fe Park boasts scenic views and lush greenery, offering a serene setting for outdoor recreation and relaxation. Visitors can enjoy a variety of amenities, including picnic areas, walking paths, green spaces, and a splash pad for children.

Speer

Just north of Peoria, Tanners Orchard is a family destination with a bakery serving famous apple cider donuts and homemade fudge along with fresh baked pies and breads. It also hosts a large country farm market, wagon rides to the orchard for pick your own apples and pumpkins, a corn maze and the Back 40 Fun Acres with farm animals. Open August-November.

Southern Leg of the Byway 

Pekin

Mineral Springs Park Lagoon is a tranquil oasis nestled within the scenic Mineral Springs Park. Visitors can stroll along the lagoon's shoreline, utilize the picnic areas, dive into the water’s swimming areas, or stay afloat on paddle boats.

Canton

Big Creek Park offers a scenic retreat for outdoor enthusiasts. The park features picturesque landscapes, serene trails, and ample opportunities for fishing, boating, and picnicking. Visitors can explore the winding paths through wooded areas, observe wildlife in their natural habitat, or simply relax amidst the tranquil surroundings. The park also provides facilities such as playgrounds, camping areas, and a dog park.