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!


8 Exciting Weekend Getaways You Should Experience!

Starved Rock State ParkThere’s no doubt about it – Edwardsville and the surrounding St. Louis area is a great place to be. There’s so much to enjoy, and it’s a wonderful place to live! Sometimes, though, it’s nice to get away from it all and enjoy a new, exciting place full of brand-new adventures.

Here’s a list of 8 exciting weekend getaways for you to enjoy close to (but just far enough away from) your home!

Chicago – One of the first weekend getaway destinations that many St. Louisans think of is Chicago! Though it’s a bit of a drive away, the time on the road is definitely worth the adventures that await you in the Windy City. Be sure to check out Millennium Park and nearby Michigan Avenue. Navy Pier, which sits right atop Lake Michigan, boasts many fun activities for you to enjoy, including a Ferris wheel! Don’t forget about the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Field Museum, and several other great activities in and around the city!

Springfield, Illinois – If you’re a history buff and need a quick breather from the St. Louis region, Springfield is a great place to visit for the weekend! There are several museums and plenty of history for you to enjoy. Visit downtown to take in the local shops and eateries or walk on the wild side at Lake Springfield!

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri – Is the city not your scene? Try going west to the Lake of the Ozarks! Just a few hours spent on the road will get you to the beautiful lakes and all of the attractions that come with it. Enjoy relaxing on the huge lake and listening to the birds chirp and the waves lap. Rent a jet ski and take a spin on the lake. You can also choose to take your adventure on land and enjoy mini golf, go-carting, and lots of great dockside restaurants. You can’t really go wrong at the Ozarks!

Starved Rock State Park and Dekalb, Illinois – If you want to be one with nature but not be too far away from civilization, head north to Dekalb, Illinois, about an hour west of Chicago. You can walk around Dekalb and nearby Sycamore and enjoy the college town feel while having all you need at your fingertips. Go south just a little bit on Interstate 39 to get to Starved Rock State Park, a gorgeous gem that features several different waterfalls and beautiful gorges.

Memphis, Tennessee – Want some culture in your getaway? Check out Memphis! You’ll want to take in the sights at Graceland for some Elvis history and other sites like the Memphis Zoo. Don’t forget to sit back and enjoy some barbecue – it’s some of the best in the nation!

Branson, Missouri – Another fun weekend getaway to take in is at Branson, tucked in the southwest corner of Missouri! There are so many great activities to do in Branson including riding the roller coasters at Silver Dollar City, catching some great shows, ziplining, horseback riding, enjoying the lake, and acting like a kid again at the numerous water parks. The choices are nearly endless in Branson.

Galena, Illinois – Up in the northwestern region of Illinois is a town that is an artist’s dream. If you enjoy art or are an artist, be sure to check out the art galleries, antique stores, and boutique shops on Main Street. Get away from the busy streets by golfing, taking a river cruise, or indulging in a kayaking excursion. For the full effect, stay at one of Galena’s great bed and breakfast locations and explore the wineries in the area!

Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana – If you love water parks, and we mean REALLY love water parks and fun rides, then head over to Santa Claus, Indiana and spend your weekend at Holiday World! Take a daring ride on the Mammoth, one of the largest water rides or take in a show. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!

Garden of the Gods and Southern Illinois – Whoever said that Illinois is flat and boring has never seen the beauty of southern Illinois! Visit the southwest portion of the state to take in some great hiking at Giant City State Park, visit the humongous Bald Knob Cross, and learn about some local history. Check out the southeast section of Illinois and take in the rocky glory of Garden of the Gods or go see Cave-In Rock, a place where pirates used to hide out in olden times, right on the Ohio River. Oh, and we definitely recommend renting a cabin for this southern getaway!

Vacations and getaways are always fun, but there’s nothing like coming back to the comforts of your home. If you’re looking for a great home in Edwardsville or the surrounding area, pick up the phone and call the Massey Team at (618) 791-5024 or (618) 791-9298. You can also check out our most up-to-date listings at www.dianamasseyhomes.com!