Enjoy viewing our video tours of the Illinois River Road. Select a tour segment from the available videos below.
The Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway unites more than 100 nature-based destinations and numerous unique communities throughout the Illinois River Valley. This video is the introduction into the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway video tour series.
Ottawa, Illinois is part 2 of our video tour. Bordering legendary Starved Rock State Park's wooded cliffs and soaring bluffs, Ottawa sits at the confluence of the Illinois and Fox Rivers. Derived from the Native American word "adawe" meaning "to trade," Ottawa is accustomed to welcoming new visitors in search of adventure. See where Abraham Lincoln's presidential career and the Boy Scouts of America began. For an adventure in nature, Ottawa's parks and recreational outlets provide amusements 365 days a year. Canoeing, bicycling, skydiving and horseback riding are just a few of the activities you'll enjoy while surrounded by the areas of diverse natural beauty.
Princeton, Illinois is part 3 of our video tour. Located on Interstate 80 and served by AMTRAK, Princeton is the place to start your customized trip back to the things that matter. Experience the Lovejoy Homestead, an important site on the Underground Railroad network to freedom and National Historic Landmark; cross one of Illinois' five remaining covered bridges; explore the Bureau County Historical Museum; venture in any direction to enjoy nature; or visit the unique shops and stately homes that line Princeton's brick streets. Princeton has numerous festivals including their newest month-long Festival 56 Summer Theater. Visitors can explore one of Illinois' first wind farms, or the state's first "wind powered" high school in nearby Manlius.
Peoria, Illinois is part 4 of our video tour. As the first European settlement in Illinois, Peoria is rich in history and even richer in natural beauty. Standing atop Peoria's world-famous Grandview Drive and looking out into the beautiful river valley, Peoria is a natural fit for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether it's a scenic drive overlooking the bluffs of the Illinois River, fishing on a tranquil pond, hiking or biking a woodland trail, watching for bald eagles, observing animals at Wildlife Prairie State Park or Peoria Zoo, or relaxing on a riverboat cruise, visitors will find endless ways to enjoy their stay.
Pekin, Illinois is part 5 of our video tour. The city of Pekin is located in west central Illinois, along the eastern bank of the Illinois River. Robert DeLaSalle is believed to be one of the first European explorers to visit the area in 1680. In 1829, County Surveyor, William Hodge laid out what was to become Pekin. He called it "Town Site," indicating the land was suitable for settlement. The town was named Pekin, after China's City of the Sun - Pekin(g). Today, visitors can enjoy swimming, horseback riding, golf, a one-of-a-kind park system, and for those interested in politics, the Dirksen Congressional Center. Pekin also offers numerous community festivals, a nearby zoo and entertainment center, unique restaurants and various shops.
Canton, Illinois is part 6 of our video tour. Canton is rich with history and has been home to citizens of great character and ambition, including Charles Duryea, inventor of the first practical automobile, Elizabeth Magie, who developed the game of Monopoly, and William Parlin, an agricultural equipment innovator during the 1800's. Parlin's legacy lives on through a generous endowment supporting Canton's exceptional park district. The Canton Park District manages more than 1600 acres of park and open space that enhance the quality of life within the community, including: Wallace Park, the par district's operational hub; Big Creek Park; Athletic Park; and Lakeland Park.
Havana, Illinois is part 7 of our video tour. Named for the capitol of the Isle of Cuba, Havana is the county seat of Mason County. Located on the banks of the Illinois River, Havana is primarily a rural, agricultural community. In fact, sixty-five percent of the United States' pumpkins are grown in the region making Havana a hot spot for tourists in the fall. Visitors to New Salem State Park can see where Abraham Lincoln lived for several years. More nature-oriented tourists can take the Spoon River Drive in fall for a display of colors unlike anything in the west or go hiking at Riverfront Park or explore the 4,500 acres of nearby Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge.
Conservation in Action
Restoring and preserving the natural wetlands and floodplains along the Illinois River Road is a huge commitment made by many dedicated organizations and individuals. Thanks to organizations like The Wetlands Initiative, Ducks Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a real impact is made on the Illinois River ecosystem. We invite you to personally get in touch with the natural world and enjoy the beauty of these restored wetlands and floodplains along the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway.