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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8 Things We’re Thankful for in the Metro East St. Louis Region

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As residents of the Metro East St. Louis region, we are surrounded by a large number of wonderful places, people, amenities, and activities. Too often, though, we take these great things in our lives for granted. This Thanksgiving week, we’d like to give everyone a little reminder of just a few of the countless things we have to be thankful for here in the Metro East. Here are just 8 of our favorites:

The Great River Road – Talk about a scenic drive! Our beautiful river road hugs the mighty Mississippi Road and spans of beautiful scenery including craggy bluffs and a huge variety of trees. It’s a perfect road to take if you want to look at the gorgeous fall foliage or just want to get out for a refreshing drive away from the city.

Rich History – History buffs will love discovering all of the rich and sometimes bizarre history that made the Metro East great. From the discoveries of Louis and Clark on the Mississippi to the harrowing tales of the frightening Piasa bird, there’s a lot to learn and appreciate by living here!

Cahokia Mounds – Once larger than London in AD 1250, Cahokia Mounds contains the remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico. Take the time to learn about the ancient civilization that once made its home here, or simply climb and sit atop the largest mound and watch a beautiful sunset in peace.

The Way of Lights – The holiday season is a magical time here in the Metro East. One of the best things to do to celebrate is to head over to Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville to witness the annual Way of Lights holiday display. Enjoy more than one million colorful lights as you visit one of the largest outdoor shrines in the nation. It’s a must for residents of the Metro East (and anyone else, for that matter)!

Gorgeous Fall Foliage – You don’t have to travel anywhere far to see outstanding fall foliage – just look in the neighborhoods around you! Whether you travel down the streets in your hometown, take the time to peruse Pere Marquette State Park, or take a walk or bike ride down one of the many trails, nature’s beauty can be found right in our own backyard!

Quick and Easy Accessibility – The Metro East is a place that gives its residents both the peace of the countryside and the excitement of the city. You can easily enjoy plenty of small town activities, but if you’re in the mood for a bit of big city living, St. Louis is only a hop, skip, and a jump away!

Amazing Food – St. Louis is home to several food items that were created right here in our backyard! We get to know the true joys of eating toasted ravioli on a cold day, gooey butter cake at a get-together, provel cheese on our pizzas, and drinking an ice-cold Ski.

That Hometown Feeling – Perhaps the thing that we’re the most thankful for is the community in which we live. Our many communities are full of friendly, caring people. These people are the neighbors you live next to and work with, the people who come up and say hello to you in the store or at a local restaurant, and the people who would give your car a boost if the battery died. We are grateful to be living amongst genuine, hardworking, and caring people here in the Metro East!

Is it your dream to live in the St. Louis region? We can make it become a reality! Just call The Massey Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Elite Properties at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298. You can also take a look at all of our great listings by visiting us online at www.dianamasseyhomes.com. We hope that you have a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving!

8 Amazing Things You Can Experience When You Live in the Metro East St. Louis Area

STLWhen people are asked about their ideal location to live in, they might envision somewhere that’s close to the beach, a home that’s nestled deep in the woods at a foot of a beautiful mountain, or maybe right in the middle of their favorite city. It can be somewhat rare for people to just up and say that they dream of living right in the heart of the Midwest, and we think that those people are definitely missing out.

Not sure what the Metro East St. Louis region is like or why you should ever move there? Here are 8 of the countless things the residents here get to enjoy year in and year out!

Sports Fans Can Feel at Home – Whether you’re into major league sports, college sports, or just want to cheer on the little leaguer in your life, there are tons of sports for everyone to enjoy at every age and level. You can watch a big baseball, hockey, or football game in St. Louis, cheer on students in their own teams in school or in various leagues, or even make a team yourself and play at one of the many parks that the Metro East St. Louis area has to offer. Sports are everywhere around here!

History Buffs Love It, Too – The St. Louis region is absolutely rich in historical events, buildings, and more. From the haunted lore of Alton to the rich history of the St. Louis Arch and everything in between, you will find plenty of interesting facts, buildings, and locations to visit, often for free!

Enjoy the Great Outdoors on the Trails – This area of the Metro East St. Louis region, particularly in Madison County, boasts a great deal of smooth, beautiful trails for cyclists, walkers, families, pet owners, and, well, just about anyone and everyone to enjoy! Many of these amazing trails can extend as far away as Staunton, Alhambra, or the ever-stunning Pere Marquette State Park. With so many trails to choose from, the possibilities are nearly endless!

It’s Great For Students – Education on all levels is absolutely wonderful in the Metro East St. Louis region. St. Louis itself boasts many top-notch universities including Washington University, Fontbonne University, St. Louis University, and many others. If you don’t want to go to the big city to get a quality education, you don’t have to! For elementary and secondary students, schools like Edwardsville and O’Fallon, Illinois are some of the nation’s top schools. For higher education, students can get a fantastic educational experience from many Illinois institutes like McKendree University, SIU-E, Greenville College, Southwestern Illinois College, and many others!

So Many Hobbies, So Little Time – Whether you love going to the movies, making your rounds at the mall, or just relaxing in the great outdoors, the Metro East St. Louis region has something for pretty much everyone. There are several malls and outlet malls for shoppers to enjoy, many excellent cinemas and movie theatres for the movie buffs, and plenty of fun things to do both in and out of the city. From the ever-fun City Museum to watching the eagles snatch prey from the mighty Mississippi in Alton in the wintertime and everything in between, we promise that you’ll never be bored here!

It’s a Mecca for Artists – The wonderful thing about St. Louis and the area around it is that it really treasures art. There are so many wonderful places to see art from the St. Louis Art Museum to various art festivals including the Schlafly Art Outside Art Festival, which draws over 10,000 people annually (and is coming up next month from the 11th to the 13th!). Art and local artists are celebrated here, so if you’re into art, you will definitely feel at home quickly!

Transportation Is a Breeze – While having a car might be pretty helpful to get from point A to point B, there are so many different ways to get places (and many different routes to take as well!). Centrally located right in the middle of the nation, St. Louis is surrounded by several interstates that can take you pretty much any direction you want to go pretty easily. You can also find plenty of easy-access public transportation through the Metro buses and the ever-handy MetroLink, which spans from Scott Air Force Base near Shiloh, Illinois to Lambert Airport and Shrewsbury, Missouri.

Vivid, Beautiful Seasons – Have you ever wanted to live somewhere that has “all 4 seasons”? The Metro East St. Louis region is the perfect place! Spring features plenty of beautiful blooms and refreshing rains, and summer is never a dull moment as you hop into the nearest pool or waterslide to cool down from the summer heat. The fall foliage is some of the most beautiful in the nation, especially in Southern Illinois and on the Great River Road, and snow bunnies will enjoy the joys that the winter season brings (snowball fights, anyone?).

Ready to move? Good news! There are so many fantastic choices out there in this part of the country, and we can help you get here! Just call us at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298 to get started. You can even personally view the listings and take virtual tours of the homes you like on our website at www.dianamasseyhomes.com.