The summer is here, school is out, and families are planning vacations. If you’re taking a family trip in the RV, make Marshall, Illinois, one of your stops. In fact, there are so many great things to do and see in Illinois, so visit or plan a staycation if you’re from here.
If you like to travel in your recreational vehicle, have you heard of Harvest Hosts? For a small membership fee, you can visit locations all over the country and boondock for free. From farms to attractions, to breweries and wineries, and… you guessed it, there is an excellent Harvest Host location right in Marshall.
The Castle Finn Vineyard & Winery has three spaces in the front of the winery that they offer to RV’s (up to 45ft in length) Sunday through Thursday nights. There is no cost to boondock, but they do ask that you consider buying some of their excellent 15+ varieties of wine ranging from dry to fruit sweet and sparkling. Bring Fido; pets are welcome too.
This small family-owned winery is nestled back off the beaten path. It sits on a beautiful open area with a pond, woods, and their vineyard. They have outdoor seating on the patio or picnic tables around the pond for you to enjoy that glass or bottle of wine.
Outdoor activities abound in Illinois:
Whether you love to camp or want to enjoy a great state park, Marshall has one of the best. Lincoln Trail State Park offers two Class A campgrounds with something for every type of camper, including all the amenities of home: electricity, showers, tables, water, toilet facilities, and a sanitary dumping station. If you would instead get up close and personal with nature without the modern conveniences, they offer a Class C camping area for tents.
The centerpiece of Lincoln Trail State Park is Lincoln Trail Lake, 146 acres of multiple fingers and over seven miles of thickly wooded shoreline. Enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, hunting, and of course, camping.
If you’re seeking a much bigger body of water, visit Lake Michigan. There are many state parks and miles of white sandy beaches where many people have their summer homes. Swim, fish, boat, or enjoy the scenery on the third largest of the Great Lakes.
Want even more nature and wildlife? Visit Shawnee National Forest. In the southern tip of Illinois lies the 289,000 acres of the rolling Shawnee Hills. The Shawnee encompasses vast forests, wetlands, and rugged bluffs and is home to various plants and animals. This is a place for those who enjoy all types of outdoor recreation.
More interested in History?
Marshall holds the Guinness Book World’s Record for the World’s Largest Gavel. Perched outside our courthouse, this piece of history gets into more selfies than you could imagine. Lincoln once tried a case right here in Marshall, and Illinois is full of the history of President Lincoln.
Visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Since opening in 2005, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has become one of the most visited presidential libraries in the country. There are two special effects theater shows. The museum boasts two life-size dioramas of the key settings where important events in Lincoln’s life occurred.
They rotate temporary exhibits, covering a variety of historical topics like the Civil War and Illinois politics. Walking tours of the museum are available throughout the summer.
If you want to see where Lincoln lived, visit the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln lived in that home between 1844 to 1861 before becoming the 16th President of the United States. It’s the only home Lincoln ever owned. The site is open daily, and there’s no admission fee, but donations are gladly accepted.
If you prefer museums, Illinois has plenty to see.
One of the most popular is the Art Institute of Chicago. It is one of the oldest and largest art museums in America. They feature a permanent collection of nearly 300,000 pieces of art, which are complemented by over 30 special exhibitions each year. The museum events calendar includes a wide variety of performances, lectures, and social events, most of which are open to the public. It is open seven days a week, excluding some holidays. They have a gift shop and several dining establishments right on the premises, so plan to make a day of it.
If you are a lover of plant life, don’t miss seeing the Chicago Botanic Garden. This 385-acre museum of living plants boasts 27 display gardens spread out over four natural habitats. Visitors can access them either by foot or by taking a narrated tram tour.
Admission to the garden is free, and there is a fee to park if you are not a member. The garden is open every day of the year, with many events and activities like cooking classes, live music, and flower shows. It’s a lovely and romantic place to visit.
Something for the kids (of all ages)?
There are many things to amuse the kiddos in Illinois, but let’s face it, they want to see amusement parks. Take them to one of the best, Six Flags Great America, located in Gurnee, Illinois.
Roller coasters galore, 4D cutting edge, fully immersive thrill rides, and one of the world’s largest loops, a 100-foot looping coaster, makes Six Flags one of the most exciting parks in the country. Check out the giant drop that takes you to the top of the 227-foot tower more than 20 stories in the air, where you will experience the sheer drop straight down.
So, get the camper ready. Pack the summer clothes and bathing suits and get out to Illinois but make sure you stop in Marshall!