Illinois: Charming Winter Getaways

While the winter season brings forth the trademark cold and snow to the Land of Lincoln, it also unfolds as a canvas for distinctive adventures. From gliding through freshly coated trails on cross-country skis to witnessing majestic bald eagles wintering on riverside cliffs, an Illinois winter unveils unique opportunities for exploration.

Discover the charm of winter getaways in Illinois with the following recommendations, each offering a perfect blend of wintry escapades and traditional warmth:

Wildlife Retreat at Cabins and Cottages

Wildlife Prairie Park

Wildlife Prairie Park, also known as the Hazel & Bill Rutherford Wildlife Prairie Park is located in Peoria County, Illinois, approximately 10 miles west of downtown Peoria in central Illinois. Nestled within the 1,800-acre Wildlife Prairie Park, home to over 50 species of animals year-round, winter transforms this zoological haven into a wonderland. Engage in exhilarating activities such as cross-country skiing, fat biking, and sledding along picturesque trails and hills. Alternatively, simply bask in the beauty of the restored prairie while catching glimpses of bison and elk. Opt for a snug stay at Wildlife Prairie Park Lodging, featuring brand-new cottages that overlook the bison enclosure for an immersive wildlife experience.

Did you know that there are over 30 statues and sculptures on Wildlife Prairie Park property? Park founders, Bill and Hazel Rutherford, had a love for the arts and the arts community. Over the years they collected many statues. The most notable and the first to call Wildlife Prairie Park home, being the bronze colt located on the bricks in the main Park area.  The Park now has a brochure for a self-guided sculpture walk on the property.

 

Fireside Bliss at Starved Rock Lodge

As winter sets in, bald eagles migrate to the cliffs near Starved Rock State Park, turning the surroundings into a serene haven. Embrace the season with various winter pursuits, including ice climbing on frozen waterfalls (after registering at the front desk and bringing your gear). For those seeking a more laid-back experience, Starved Rock Lodge provides a rustic retreat. Unwind by a crackling fireplace or savor hot cocoa on the veranda while admiring the winter landscape.

Shawnee Wine Country

While summer cultivates grapes along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, winter invites a slower pace of life around Shawnee National Forest. Properties like The Stablehouse and Firefly Valley Lodge serve as cozy bases for winter adventures such as hunting, hiking, and horseback riding. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the various wineries along the trail with a winter-ready passport, warming up with a sip of fine wine. Come for the wine. Stay for the experience.

During your Shawnee Hills Wine Trail  journey, we know you will enjoy a variety of experiences, award-winning wines and savory foods along the way.  We want to share in the fun!  Join us for our first ever Photo Scavenger Hunt and post about your experiences from our checklist below for a chance to win Shawnee Hills Wine Trail swag.  Be sure to use the appropriate tags so we can find you.  Cheers & Happy Hunting!

Serenity by Galena Lake – Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa

Just six miles from the quaint town of Galena, where historic Main Street glistens with snow, Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa stands overlooking Galena Lake. The lakeside locale offers an array of winter activities along 23 miles of hiking trails. Alternatively, indulge in relaxation indoors with the onsite spa or take a dip in the heated swimming pool. Cozy up inside, and let the allure of Galena Lake make your winter retreat truly unforgettable.

Visit Galena for a stroll along Historic Main Street which is filled with more than 125 quaint boutiques, galleries, wineries and old-fashioned confectioneries where you can stock up on treats to enjoy all season long. Great American Popcorn Co. creates small batches of popcorn in over 350 unique flavors like butter pecan, bacon & cheddar and amaretto almond. Just on the other side of the street, Galena Canning Company offers a huge variety of award-winning sauces, jams, syrups and more. If you’re on the hunt for even more delicious options, grab takeout or dine-in at Vinny Vanucchi’s, known for its delectable traditional Italian fare and wine shop filled with imported selects.

Places in Illinois: Charming Winter Getaways

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