Category Archives: Places to Stay

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Romantic Spots in GRC Feature Image

The Great River Road, which travels along the Mississippi River, has countless opportunities for couples to experience romantic moments. Bluff-top views, river sights, charming B&Bs and sprawling vineyards sprinkle the Illinois portion of the road on the western boarder of the state. We rounded up six spots along the Great River Road in Illinois that are the epitome of romance. Have other ideas that we didn’t include? Comment and share with us!

Take a wintery stroll through Galena’s historic Main Street. Click the photo for more information about bustling downtown Galena. (Photo by Instagramer (at) foundflavor)

Take a wintery stroll through Galena’s historic Main Street and enjoy the bustling nature of downtown Galena. (Photo by Instagramer (at) foundflavor)

Galena’s Main Street
There’s something nostalgic about the small town charm in winter. Visit Galena’s historic Main Street to shop the local boutiques, take a historic trolley tour of the snow-dusted town, and cozy up on a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the town. Walk across the river to visit Grant Park, a great location for couples to take in the breathtaking views of the historic town. The park is home to a charming gazebo has been the site of many nuptials throughout the years!

Instagramer (at) squezdog captured this amazing shot of Bayview Bridge at sunset. Click the photo for more attractions to enjoy at Bicentennial Park.

Instagramer (at) squezdog captured this amazing shot of Bayview Bridge at sunset.

Bicentennial Park and Bayview Bridge
Bicentennial Park in Quincy is the place to see Bayview Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge over the Mississippi River. Snap photos with the bridge as the backdrop or relax on a park bench and look out at the moving waters.

Beall Mansion
Located just 12 blocks from the Mississippi River, the elegant bed and breakfast Beall Mansion features an in-room massage, spa treatments and a 24 hour chocolate buffet! This quaint B&B mansion is the perfect romantic getaway for two.

Share a warm slice of pie at this cozy sweet shop. Click the photo to see more activities in Alton. (Photo by Instagramer (at) kayris06)

Share a warm slice of pie at this cozy sweet shop. (Photo by Instagramer (at) kayris06)

My Just Desserts
My Just Desserts in Alton is a tasty place for couples to stop along the Great River Road. This cozy confectionery and restaurant is located in the historic Alton in a building that dates back to 1845. With up to 13 types of pie to choose from, you won’t want to miss out on this indulgence.

Piasa Winery
The charming Piasa Winery overlooks the Mississippi River and is home to delicious varietals from the Piasa vineyards. Its deck is a great spot to sip a sweet white or sparkling wine with your loved one while enjoying the region’s rolling landscape as the backdrop.

Luxury is not hard to come by at Irish Hallow as seen in the inn’s spa-like bathrooms. See more pictures of the accommodations by clicking the photo. (Photo by (at) aniababicz)

Enjoy the warm, relaxing atmosphere of The Inn at Irish Hollow. (Photo by (at) aniababicz)

The Inn at Irish Hollow
Sitting on 500 acres in the Galena countryside, The Inn at Irish Hollow is a truly magical destination for couples. Irish Hollow has five English countryside cottages perfect for two, complete with wood burning fireplaces, spa-quality bathrooms and plush furnishings.

For more information on romantic destinations in Illinois, visit

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Southern IL Feature Image

Whether you’re planning a family holiday trip or a weekend getaway with friends this season, there’s no shortage of winter wonderland places to stay in Southern Illinois. We’ve chosen five of our favorite accommodations in the Trails to Adventure region of Illinois, so take a look and leave a comment to tell us what your favorite is!

Blue Sky Vineyard

Experience a taste of Tuscany at the Blue Sky Vineyard in Makanda. More than just a winery, Blue Sky has two guest suites available for rent year round. Delicious Illinois wine and beautiful winter views of this 12-acre vineyard make for a unique and exciting experience. Venture off the property to one of the many towns dotting the Shawnee Hill Wine Tail for local meals and unique attractions.


Cozy up with a glass of wine at Blue Sky Vineyard

 Bell Hill Bed & Breakfast

If you’re looking for a cozy spot to enjoy a winter getaway, then Bell Hill Bed & Breakfast in Cobden is the place for you. Nestled in the Shawnee Hills National Forest, this B&B boasts breathtaking views and fun local activities, like antique shopping, winter horseback riding and sampling local wine at the many vineyards along the Shawnee Hill Wine Trail.

 The Stablehouse

Looking for a home away from home vacation? The Stablehouse in Alto Pass is a fully-furnished, western-themed rental property that sleeps seven. Take in the serene beauty of winter this year with a close group of friends or family on this property. Pets, including horses, are welcome at this outdoor-lovers home!

Winter horseback riding 8270

Enjoy a winter trail ride with friends through the Shawnee National Forest

Davie School Inn

Davie School Inn in Anna, near Carbondale, is a unique place to stay when visiting Southern Illinois and the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail and Giant City State Park. Built in 1910, each spacious suite at the inn includes a bookcase and chalkboard from the original schoolhouse days!

Davie School Inn 2

One of the several vintage rooms at the Davie School Inn

Riverview Mansion Hotel

Golconda is home to the historic Riverview Mansion Hotel, a full service Bed & Breakfast since the 1920s. The elegant Victorian-style accommodations include a lounge serving a large selection of local wines, as well as a restaurant onsite. This enchanted hotel setting with its expansive grounds is the perfect place to enjoy the variety of Illinois wines while taking in the beautiful views of the Ohio River.

Where are your favorite places to stay in Southern Illinois? Leave a comment and tell us! For more ideas about winter wonderland trips, visit

-The Illinois Office of Tourism


Andersonville Feature Image

When planning an LGBT-friendly trip to Chicago, travelers typically think of the Boystown neighborhood as the place to see. While the bustling streets of Boystown are famous for alfresco dining, coffee shops and the incredible nightlife, the lesser-known Andersonville community is a hidden gem for travelers looking for quaint LGBT destinations in the Windy City.

The Swedish neighborhood on Chicago’s north side has quietly become an LGBT favorite with its celebrated restaurants, eclectic shopping and laid-back bars with a touch of sophistication. Travelers can explore Andersonville’s nationally recognized commercial district, comprised almost entirely of locally owned, independent businesses, and unwind at a variety of LGBT-friendly accommodations.

Here are places we recommend seeing, eating and staying in Andersonville:


Andersonville & Edgewater: Chicago Neighborhood Tour

Departing from the Chicago Cultural Center, the Andersonville & Edgewater: Chicago Neighborhood Tour explores the gay-friendly shops and restaurants of Andersonville and the Art Deco and Tudor Revival architecture of the Bryn Mawr Historic District.

Women & Children First Book Store

One of the largest feminist bookstores in the country, the 33 year-old establishment is home to more than 30 thousand books about women and the best lesbian and gay fiction and non-fiction. It is a favorite stop for Andersonville residents, scholars and travelers alike.



The Belgian-focused menu at Hopleaf and “staggering beer list” has placed Hopleaf on the map of some of Chicago’s best taverns. Make sure to order the specialty mussels served Belgian-style!


The Belgian-inspired Hopleaf tavern in Andersonville is a popular watering hole for locals and visitors

Swedish Bakery

Opened in the late 1920’s by the Johnson family, Andersonville’s Swedish Bakery is famous for its European-style pastries, including coffeecakes, cookies, sweet rolls, petit fours and marzipan cakes.

Swedish Bakery_Andersonville

Swedish Bakery’s variety of cake flavors, like this lemon cake, are baked in-house

Marty’s Martini Bar

Often called the No. 1 martini bar in Chicago, Marty’s Martini Bar is just off Andersonville’s main drag. In the summertime, spend an evening sipping one of the specialty martinis alfresco on the bar’s picturesque patio.

Marty's Martini Bar

Drinks at Marty’s range from bitter to savory to sweet


Andersonville Guesthouse

The swanky Guesthouse situated near the southern end of Andersonville features deluxe rental suites and a penthouse with rooftop deck. It offers guests the opportunity to live like a local in Andersonville with all the amenities of a five star hotel.

Think we missed something? Comment below and tell us what other Andersonville restaurants, attractions and nightlife hot stops you recommend! For more trip ideas, visit the LGBT Travel Trip Ideas section at

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Retreat Feature


Looking for a bed and breakfast retreat filled with New England charm without traveling to the East Coast? Sidwell and Friends Bed and Breakfast in Mt. Vernon, Illinois is a wonderful place for couples to getaway all year long. The B&B provides a restful retreat while offering plenty to do and see in the heart of Southern Illinois.

Built in the 1920s, the historic home has a classic colonial style with an elegant collection of fine furniture, artwork and books. The house has been remodeled and redecorated over the years, but manages to maintain the allure of the past with the amenities of today. With only four guest rooms, including a romance suite, Sidwell is the place for couples who want to spend a night away.

Sidwell’s living room is filled with antique furniture, artwork and books

Sidwell’s living room is filled with antique furniture, artwork and books

The town of Mt. Vernon is loaded with attractions that couples can enjoy together. Sidwell is within walking distance of Cedarhurst Center for the Arts & Mitchell Museum. Visitors can view contemporary art exhibitions, an outdoor gallery with sculptures and a children’s gallery. For nature lovers, nearby Rend Lake provides plenty of opportunities for boating, fishing, golfing swimming and water skiing. The 27-hole Rend Lake Golf course is also in close proximity, so couples will have no shortage of things to do!

The serene Rend Lake provides many opportunities for water activities as well as a championship golf course

The serene Rend Lake provides many opportunities for water activities as well as a championship golf course

Couples in the mood for a wine adventure can sample award-winning varietals at GenKota Winery. The Amish-built winery sits on a gorgeous hill overlooking two acres of a growing vineyard. GenKota’s covered wrap-around deck with swings encourages sitting and sipping the winery’s red, blush, white and fruit wines.

To find out more about Sidwell and Friends Bed and Breakfast and the Mt. Vernon area, check out

-The Illinois Office of Tourism

Beall Mansion

An escape to the Beall Mansion Bed & Breakfast Inn in historic Alton will result in sweet chocolate dreams. Every stay at the Southern-style inn includes a complimentary 24-hour all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet. Yes, that’s right, an endless buffet of succulent chocolate available to you whenever you’re craving something sweet. The smorgasbord features more than 21 different types of chocolate treats, such as dark chocolate peppermint patties, milk chocolate peanut butter cup minis and chocolate covered toffee crunch kisses.

If never-ending chocolate doesn’t entice you enough, the Beall Mansion is located just steps away from Alton’s rich cultural scene, lively entertainment, wineries and breathtaking scenery. Take a walk near the river to capture images of the famous Clark Bridge, experience a wine tasting at one of Alton’s seven wineries, bike next to gorgeous bluffs on the Great River Road or take in a show at a local theatre. With so much variety, Alton is great for a weekend getaway with friends or romantic retreat with someone special.

Cozy rooms at Beall Mansion make guests feel at home.

Cozy rooms at Beall Mansion make guests feel at home.

The charming town is also known for its expanding culinary scene. If you want to indulge in something savory before your chocolate feast, wine and dine at Tony’s Restaurant. If rich homemade dishes are what you crave, try Castelli’s Restaurant at 255.

External View of Historical Beall Mansion in Alton.

External View of Historical Beall Mansion in Alton.

At the end of your Alton adventure, retreat to the Beall Mansion and don’t forget to stop by the chocolate buffet for a sweet night cap!

-The Illinois Office of Tourism