If You Like Outdoor Activities

Whether you're seeking adventure or simply looking to connect with nature, the Illinois River Road offers outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy.

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

Northern Leg of the Byway

North Utica

Starved Rock E-Bike Rentals offers an exciting way to explore the breathtaking landscapes surrounding Starved Rock State Park and the Illinois River using electric bicycles. Starved Rock E-Bike Rentals provides a selection of electric bicycles equipped with pedal-assist technology, allowing riders to effortlessly navigate the terrain while enjoying the sights and sounds of nature. The bikes are available in various styles and sizes to accommodate different preferences and needs.

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.

LaSalle County

LaSalle County is home to multiple scenic state parks including Matthiessen State Park and Starved Rock State Park. These parks offer a plethora of activities amidst their stunning natural beauty. Trail through forests and canyons, pack a picnic to enjoy in one the many picnic areas, or hit the campgrounds, all while taking the in natural beauty of the surrounding around.

Ottawa

Heritage Harbor is a vibrant waterfront community situated along the Illinois River, offering a unique blend of recreational activities, dining options, and residential living. At the heart of Heritage Harbor is its full-service marina, which serves as a hub for boating enthusiasts. Visitors can also enjoy boating, fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding on the Illinois River, or explore the nearby hiking and biking trails that wind through scenic woodlands and along the riverbanks. Heritage Harbor features several waterfront restaurants and cafes where visitors can savor delicious cuisine while enjoying panoramic views of the river.

Central Leg of the Byway

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.

Peoria

Luthy Botanical Gardens is a tranquil oasis nestled within the heart of Peoria. Spanning over 4.5 acres, the gardens showcase a diverse collection of plants, flowers, and landscapes. Stroll along winding pathways bordered by vibrant blooms, tranquil ponds, and lush greenery, while taking in the sights and sounds of the natural world. The gardens feature themed areas, including a rose garden, perennial garden, and tropical conservatory, each offering its own unique charm and ambiance. With educational programs, events, and seasonal displays, Luthy Botanical Gardens serves as a beloved community destination for nature enthusiasts, garden lovers, and those seeking a moment of peace and tranquility.

Peoria Heights

Whether you're seeking solitude amidst the peaceful forest or embarking on an outdoor adventure, Forest Park Nature Center invites you to explore, discover, and connect with the natural world. Spanning over 540 acres of woodlands, prairies, and scenic trails, this area serves as a gateway to the natural wonders of the Illinois River Valley. Wander along miles of well-maintained hiking trails, meandering through diverse ecosystems teeming with wildlife and native plants. The center's educational programs, guided hikes, and interpretive exhibits provide enriching experiences for nature lovers of all ages, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the local environment.

Peoria

The Peoria Riverfront is a vibrant waterfront district along the scenic banks of the Illinois River, offering a diverse array of entertainment, dining, and recreational opportunities. Boasting a picturesque skyline backdrop, the riverfront is a hub of activity year-round, with events, festivals, and live music drawing locals and visitors alike. Take a leisurely stroll along the riverwalk, offering panoramic views of the waterway and city skyline, or hop aboard a riverboat cruise for a unique perspective of the area. The district is home to a variety of restaurants, cafes, and breweries, where patrons can savor delicious cuisine while enjoying waterfront views. With parks, green spaces, and public art installations dotting the landscape, the Peoria Riverfront provides a dynamic and inviting destination for relaxation, recreation, and cultural experiences in the heart of downtown Peoria

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 all outdoor enthusiasts.

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.

Havana

Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge is a renowned conservation area that spans over 11,000 acres along the Illinois River. Established to restore and protect wetland habitats, the refuge is part of one of the largest floodplain restoration projects in the Midwest. It provides a vital sanctuary for a diverse array of wildlife, including migratory birds, fish, and native plant species. The area offers opportunities for birdwatching, fishing, and hiking, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and a key site for ecological research and environmental education.