13 Fun Last-Minute Trip Ideas Before School Starts

Starved Rock State ParkSchool might be in session soon, but that doesn’t mean that the summertime fun has to stop. Adventure is still out there waiting for us in our own backyard – and beyond! Whether you have time for a daytrip or a weekend getaway, there’s still plenty of time to have one last hurrah before school starts.

Here are 13 fun Illinois trip ideas for you to squeeze in before time runs out!

Local Adventures

Visit Cahokia Mounds – If you haven’t visited Cahokia Mounds yet, you’re really missing out. It’s one of only 22 World Heritage Sites in the nation and is home to the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico. Check out the mounds and the site’s interpretive center for a fun journey back in time. Don’t forget to visit Monks Mound, the largest pyramid north of Mesoamerica, for a beautiful view of Madison County and St. Louis!

Hit The (Great River) Road – Soak up the sun and enjoy the beautiful sites on the Great River Road. Take a pit stop to check out the painting of the legendary man-eating Piasa bird just north of Alton (you can’t miss it!). While you’re headed north, be sure to stop by Grafton for a bit of shopping and visit Pere Marquette State Park to hit some trails and take in spectacular views of the Mighty Mississippi.

Fun a Hop, Skip, and a Jump Away

Go Sailing at Carlyle Lake – Get away from it all and head to this beautiful, 26,000-acre manmade lake for some nautical adventures! Sail to your heart’s content, enjoy a picnic lakeside, or stay the night by booking one of the rustic cabins.

Skydive in Greenville – Want to really feel the wind blow through your hair while you get a bird’s eye view of Carlyle Lake? We recommend visiting Gateway Skydiving Center in Greenville! Experience a thrill of a lifetime as you leap out of a plane and free-fall for 45 seconds before opening your parachute and descending to the ground below.

Zip Through the Trees in Kinmundy – Get lost in the wild by visiting the American Obstacle Adventure Park in Kinmundy! Feel like Tarzan as you zip-line through tree canopies, or duke it out with your friends and family in the outdoor laser tag area.

Check Out Balloon Fest in Centralia – Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 18 to stop by Centralia Foundation Park for their annual Balloon Fest! Gaze in wonder as the dozens of hot air balloons light up during the Balloon Glow, check out the craft stands, and split a funnel cake with your friends (or have one all to yourself!). It’s a magical event you won’t want to miss!

Excitement a Few Short Hours Away

Explore Starved Rock State Park – Did you know that the Prairie State has waterfalls? You can see a majority of them at beautiful Starved Rock State Park, just south of the Illinois River. Hike your favorite paths to see towering canyons and gorgeous wildflowers tucked away within the flat fields of Illinois farm country. Make the trip complete by stopping by nearby Ottawa to check out historic Washington Square and find a one-of-a-kind gift at Starved Rock Hot Glass!

Get Lost at the Garden of the Gods – Although it’s located far away in southeastern Illinois, this state park is a must-see. Discover extraordinary rock formations and untouched swathes of wilderness as you blaze your own trail on foot or on horseback. The stunning views are unlike anything else you’ll see in the Midwest!

Let Superman Steal Your Heart in Metropolis – Are you a Superman fanatic? You’re gonna want to visit Metropolis! Their museum includes more than 20,000 items of memorabilia and the famous giant Superman statue that stands proudly outside. Photo ops and plenty of fun will be in store for you in this little Illinois metropolis!

Quirky, Off-the-Beaten-Path Ventures

Go Back in Time in Kaskaskia Island – Journey to Kaskaskia Island, the only location in Illinois that’s located on the west side of the Mississippi River, for a trip back in time. The state’s first capital, Kaskaskia is home to the Liberty Bell of the West, which is even older than Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell! A once thriving community, the little village suffered from several floods that wiped out countless houses throughout the years. Be sure to visit the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church to see artifacts from the 1800s before you leave!

Watch Out for That First Step in Woodstock – Who doesn’t love the movie Groundhog Day? If you’re a real fan, take the trip up north to Woodstock, Illinois where the movie was filmed! Check out Woodstock Square Park where Bill Murray broadcasted Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast in Gobbler’s Knob, step in the infamous puddle (which has its very own plaque that says “Bill Murray Stepped Here”), or visit the Royal Victorian Manor, which was used as the inn in the film.

Hunt Planets in Peoria – For an adventure that’s out of this world (sorry, we had to make the joke!), visit the world’s third-largest scale of our solar system’s planets in Peoria! Become a self-proclaimed interplanetary explorer and track down all the planets in and around the city. You can find out more here!

Visit the Infamous Cave-In-Rock – It may look like your average cave, but Cave-In-Rock holds several stories and legends dating back to when it was discovered in 1739! It’s said that it was once home to plundering river pirates, outlaws, and counterfeiters for many years. Local legend even contests that Jesse James himself and his gang once took refuge here. Although it sits empty, you can explore the cave and pretend like you’re a baddie hiding from the law!

Wherever your adventures take you, we hope that you have fun, safe travels before school starts! Did we miss any fun Illinois destinations? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Enjoy Your Patio to the Fullest This Summer with These 8 Tips!

summertime patio

The dog days of summer are here, and if you haven’t gotten outside to enjoy the great weather we’ve been having lately, then you’re missing out! It’s time to get out there and soak up what’s left of the season before the cold creeps in.

You don’t have to go very far either – your patio, deck, or porch will suffice! Just follow these 8 tips to get the most enjoyment from your outdoor living area this summer:

Choose Cozy Seating – No one wants to sit on stiff, uncomfortable chairs and sofas. Treat your outdoor room as you would your indoor ones by placing thick, comfy cushions on your chairs and selecting seating you would practically never want to leave.

Outsmart the Weather – You might not be able to control Mother Nature, but you can certainly stay a few steps ahead of her! Make wind less of an issue by keeping your table bare and weighing down any dishes you may have with small bowls filled with fresh fruit or other yummy snacks. Hide from the sun under a freestanding umbrella, shade trees, or handy lattices.

Set the Right Mood – You’d be surprised how even the simplest outdoor space comes alive with the right lighting! Best of all, you don’t need a lot to achieve the feel you want. Paper lanterns or repurposed white Christmas lights draped over tree limbs work wonders. Make decorating even easier by using battery-operated flameless candles. They’re just like the real thing but without the mess and fire hazard!

Keep Bugs at Bay – No one invites these pesky critters to our outdoor get-togethers, but they always manage to crash the party. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can keep them away. Light citronella candles or use insect repellant, for starters. Get rid of any standing water and turn on the ceiling fans to deter mosquitoes and other insects. And of course, you can also screen in your porch to enjoy the outdoors without the bugs – permanently!

Stoke the Fire – There’s nothing like gathering around the fire on chilly summer nights and making s’mores. Break out the fire pit and call some friends over to roast marshmallows and share spooky ghost stories!

Bring the Music Outside – Create a relaxing oasis in your own backyard by bringing the tunes to you. If you don’t have any outdoor outlets, grab some wireless speakers and connect them to a sound system in your home to play your favorite songs. If that doesn’t work, a decorative running water piece can create the same effect!

Make an Outdoor Dining Kit – Maybe you like the idea of dining al fresco, but the thought of getting everything together and taking it outdoors is exhausting. Make things easier on yourself by having a handy kit ready and waiting to be taken outside! Include some of the essentials like unbreakable plates and glasses, napkins, silverware, a carafe for your favorite beverage, and a bottle opener.

Keep Blankets Handy – For those chilly evenings, it’s always smart to have a few lightweight blankets or throws nearby. Stow them in an outdoor ottoman or drape them over chairs to use them as soon as you catch chill.

If you’re one of our readers who doesn’t have a porch, deck, or patio, then what are you waiting for? Find your dream home – complete with the outdoor space you want – with the help of The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties! Call us today at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 to get started today!