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!

Advertisements