Tours

Come Tour With Us!

Explore the Delights & Sights in the Starved Rock Area

You might head here for the parks, for which we’re very well known, but you will want to stay – and you should – to check out our many other gems and jewels that make up the Starved Rock area. The millions of visitors who flock here every year have discovered our little piece of paradise. Visitors and locals alike can take advantage of our inside knowledge of where to find the roads less traveled and outdoor playgrounds about which some of the locals don’t even know!

Daily Public Tours

Starved Rock Connections offers a variety of FUN Public Tours Monday through Friday and select weekends, and Shuttle Service, for individuals and small groups. We have room for up to 14 guests in our temperature-controlled, 15-seat passenger van. Pick-up is available in Seneca and Ottawa, as well as at local area lodging establishments, and can be arranged with reservations. Private groups can book and may substitute options on weekdays with advance planning.

Private Group Tours

Choose from one of our MANY Tours or let us custom design one for you and your group for a weekday or weekend outing. Already have an outing or special event planned and only need transportation? We can provide the ride, too.  Note: Tour attractions are subject to availability and may only be available on certain weekdays or weekend days or by appointment with advance notice. Private groups can book and may substitute options on weekdays with advance planning.

Tour Menu

Waterman Winery & Vineyards Tour – Available Mondays in July and August (see Events Calendar)

This tour is more accurately described as “an Authentic, Casual Agricultural Experience.” We’ll tour a century-old farmstead, its quaint barns, and then get whisked away to the countryside to explore the vineyard. We’ll conclude with samples from a unique selection of wines, of course, as well as a light lunch.

 Price: $60 Adults (for ages 21 and over only/includes samples, lunch, and one bottle of wine of your choice) | Minimum: 10 guests | Maximum: 14 guests | approximately 6 hours

Afternoon Delights & Flights in Utica – Available Mondays – Year-Round (see Events Calendar)

Spend the afternoon exploring the Utica area – shopping, dining, and sampling wine, beer, or mule flights, and savory and sweet treats. Dine at any of the local eateries of your choice, OR groups of 10-14 can add on a pre-planned snack or lunch package (add-ons for adults only-contact us for details). Additional sites may include the Starved Rock State Park Visitors Center, the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center, and more.

Price:  $30 Adults | $25 Students | Maximum: 14 guests | approximately 4-6 hours

 Delights & Sights in Ottawa – Available Tuesdays – Year-Round (see Events Calendar)

We’ll tour the Reddick Mansion, Washington Park, view historic murals, and you can add in a Tangled Roots Brewery Tour, when we explore Downtown Ottawa. Additional time is allotted for lunch, shopping, and added stops that may include a demo at Starved Rock Hot Glass, the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center, Buffalo Rock State Park, and more.

Price: $50 (includes Brewery Tour for ages 21 & over only)

Price: $40 Adults | $30 Students (includes Mansion Tour, excludes Brewery Tour)

Price: $30 Adults | $25 Students (excludes Mansion and Brewery Tours)

Maximum: 14 guests | approximately 6 hours

Shakespeare in the Park: “Othello” – Available Wednesday Evenings in July (see Events Calendar)

Time has been allotted for a meal on your own in Downtown Princeton prior to the 7:30pm show time. Bring your own chair (or blanket) to sit on.

Price: $30 Adults | $25 Students (round-trip) |Maximum: 13 guests | approximately 4-6 hours

Westclox Wonders – Available Wednesdays – Year-Round (see Events Calendar)

We’ll visit the historic Westclox Building and Museum, learn how bath bombs are made at Kristine’s Shower, tour the Star Union Spirits Distillery, and dine at the Threee Little Birds Café. Students are welcome, but the distillery tour is for ages 21 and over only; an activity for the youngsters will be substituted within sight. Meal is on your own.

Price: $40 Adults | $30 Students | Maximum: 14 guests | approximately 6 hours

Sights & Delights in Streator – Available Thursdays – May-October (see Events Calendar)

We’ll meander through the English-style gardens at the Weber House & Garden, view the new Walldog Murals, and visit the Finefield Pottery studio for demos, the Dan Chris Nursery, and more. Time will be allotted for lunch and shopping on your own in and around Downtown Streator.

Price: $40 Adults | $30 Students | Maximum: 14 guests | approximately 6 hours

Happy Hours in Peru – Available Friday Evenings – Year-Round (see Events Calendar)

Round up your friends, family, and colleagues…we’re providing the ride to safely celebrate the week’s end with Memphis-style BBQ and a Star Union Spirits Distillery Tour before the entertainment starts in their tasting room. Second Fridays of the month at the historic Westclox Building include additional activities in the West Wing of the building – art exhibits, musical performances, and more.

Price: $40 Adults (for ages 21 and over only/additional fee for meal on your own) | Maximum: 13 guests | approximately 6 hours

NEW Tours Now Available for Your Private Group Tour, Outing, or Adventure:

Culinary Delights – Available Year-Round

Calling all Foodies: This Food Tour is for you! Immerse yourselves in the local food and music scene, sample delectable specialties, and great chow! We’ll connect you to local treasures, farm-to-table, unique food shops, ethnic restaurants, nostalgic supper clubs and diners, and riverfront eateries. Add in locally-made, farm-to-foam brews, wines, and spirits to complete the package. Who doesn’t love to wine and dine?!?

Price: Rates vary based on tour and activity fees | Maximum: 14 guests

Double Delights – Available Year-Round

Double your fun with two local area Distillery Tours. The first tour starts at Star Union Spirits Distillery, a new artisanal, small-batch distillery, and tasting room in Peru, focusing on craft, fruit and grain distilled spirits: brandy, whiskey and vodka. Next up is a tour of the Whiskey Acres Distilling Co., Illinois’ first “seed to spirt” distillery that’s located on a 5th generation family farm. Time is included for a meal on your own at one of our local area eateries between tours. This tour is for ages 21 & over only.

Price: $60 (+ additional fee for meal on your own) | Maximum: 14 guests | approximately 6-8 hours

Girlfriend Getaways – Available Year-Round*

Sometimes you just have to get away, indulge yourself in a little pampering, decompress, and reconnect with your besties. Mix it up and choose whatever delights you to include in your itinerary.  Immerse yourself in the local food, art, and music scene; tour a winery, brewery, distillery, bath bomb factory, historic mansion, or gardens; enjoy high tea, spa treatments, or multi-media art sessions, and more. Or if an action-packed adventure is the experience you desire, we’ve got it all right here in Starved Rock Country: skydiving, zip-lining, tubing, kayaking, rafting, paddle-boarding, canoeing, golfing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, cross-country skiing, and so much more!

Price: Rates vary based on tour and activity fees | Maximum: 14 guests

*Some activities are seasonal.

 Underground History, Architecture & General Sites Tour – Available May-October. This  Public Tour is available on Sat., 8/17/19 – book now – see Events Calendar.

Join us for a scenic drive from Ottawa to Princeton. Our first stop is the Historic Lovejoy Homestead (c. 1838), a station on the Underground Railroad, for a guided tour. We’ll visit additional Underground Railroad sites; 19th & 20th century historic homes and buildings, from Gothic Revival and Colonial Revival to Prairie Style and Dutch Colonial; the Historic Red Covered Bridge (c. 1863), and include time to check out the numerous boutiques, antique stores, and unique retail and food shops (for lunch on your own) in Downtown Princeton.

Price: $40 Adults | $30 Students | Maximum: 14 guests | approximately 6 hours

Irish Tales – Available May-October

History lovers and quaint-town aficionados will appreciate this trip. Learn more about the vital role Irish immigrants played in the development and growth of the Starved Rock Area. Noteworthy sights along the way may include replica canal boats, locks, aqueducts, toll house/lock-tender’s house, historic grain elevator, churches, and more.

Price: $40 Adults | $35 Students (includes LaSalle Canal Boat Tour)

Price: $30 Adults | $25 Students (excludes LaSalle Canal Boat Tour)

Maximum: 14 guests | approximately 4-6 hours

LaSalle Canal Boat & Hegeler Mansion Tours – Available May-October

We’re stepping back in time to the 19th Century, first, for a mule-pulled canal boat ride; then, add a guided tour of a historic mansion with seven levels, 57 rooms, approximately 16,000 square feet that is as unique on the interior as it is on the exterior.  Time is allotted for lunch on your own and exploring in Downtown LaSalle.

Price: $50 Adults | $45 Students (includes Canal Boat & Mansion Tours)

Price: $40 Adults | $35 Students (includes Canal Boat Tour only)

Maximum: 14 guests | approximately 4-6 hours

The “Mother” Road Trip – Available March-November

Route 66 is the most iconic symbol of the American Road Trip.  As we cruise along America’s Main Street in the Heartland – from Wilmington to Pontiac – we’ll soak up the atmosphere of the legendary Mother Road era and explore quirky roadside attractions, museums, gift shops, vintage diners, gas stations, and more.

Price: $66 Adults | $56 Students (+meal on your own) | Maximum: 14 guests | approximately 6-8 hours

Plein Air Tour – Available October-December

This tour is for the artist who needs to get out there and paint – and for the nature photographer! There’s no shortage of fall foliage and stunning winter landscapes for photographing or painting en plein air around here. A private wooded area with a creek, magnificent views, and more is yours to explore and find your perfect spot. More info to come

Multi-Day Tours

Want a little extra time to explore the area?  We’d love to plan a multi-day itinerary for you – from your hotel accommodations to dining, attractions and whatever else you want to do and see in the Starved Rock Area and/or Illinois Route 66. Per-person pricing varies based on tour itinerary, activity fees, lodging and dining costs, etc. 

Step-on Guide

Have a large group and your own transportation? Our Local Step-on Guide can board your motor coach or bus, direct your driver, and deliver a narrated tour like no other.  Each custom tour includes an itinerary that is tailored to your group’s interests, abilities, time, etc. Day trips normally last around 4-7 hours.

  • $150 for the first 4 hours (minimum) ● $25 each additional hour. Includes Step-on Guide Service, all tour planning, reservations, and a customized itinerary
  • Additional per-person pricing: TBD – varies based on your tour itinerary, activity fees, dining costs, etc.

View our  Calendar on our Events Page or use our Planning Form to get started creating your next amazing, authentic experience.

Self-Guided Tours

Your concierge and trip adviser has the inside scoop and can assist you with planning a day visit or an overnight or multi-day stay. Your personalized itinerary is yours to complete at your own pace. Pricing varies based on tour itinerary, activity fees, etc. Consultations are always FREE.  Click here to get started planning your next amazing, authentic experience.

Service Policies, Terms, and Conditions – Please Review Before Booking Your Tour

Our tours take place rain or shine, and may involve sitting, walking and standing for extended lengths of time, and a minimal to moderate amount of stairs. All ages are welcome, unless otherwise specified.

Per-person pricing varies and includes transportation, activity, and tour fees. Meals are not included in fees, except where noted. Time for meals on your own and shopping is included in most Tours. Tour attractions are subject to availability, and last-minute changes may be made due to special events or circumstances beyond our control – or on a whim if time permits to add a few extras.  

RESERVATIONS: Reservations are required to guarantee a seat, and can be made via email, text, or voice; and online through the Calendar on our Events Page or our Planning Form.

PAYMENTS: Credit cards are accepted through Pay Pal (account not necessary); personal checks if received no later than 5 business days prior to event;  and cash only on day of event if space permits for last-minute reservations and walk-ons.

Special Event Shuttle pricing is for round-trip shuttle service only. It does not include entrance fees (when applicable). 

Minimums may be required for Tours and Shuttle Service and will be noted. If minimum reservations aren’t met before reservation deadline, the Tour or Shuttle may be canceled, in which case a credit or refund will be issued. No refunds will be issued for no-shows or cancellations made less than five business days prior to Tour or Shuttle date.

Photographs and video may be taken during your tour and used for future marketing purposes. Permission to use the images is assumed, unless notified to the contrary before we depart.

Please carry your possessions with you, as we are not responsible for lost or stolen items left in the van.  Food and drinks are not allowed on board, with the exception of bottled water, which is provided.

Check out our Tour Menu below for a sampling of the abundant options you can include in your group’s custom itinerary.

Adventure

Experience Seekers: Are you up for an action-packed adventure? We’ve got it all right here in Starved Rock Country!

  • Skydiving
  • Zip-lining
  • Four-wheeling/off-roading
  • Amphibious and UTV tours
  • Chasing waterfalls
  • Rafting
  • Tubing
  • Curling
  • Equestrian trails/camping
  • Boating/canoeing/kayaking
  • Biking/mountain biking
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Archery
  • Shooting range
  • Hunting – plants, animals, fossils
  • Indoor water parks
  • Geo-caching
  • Golfing
  • Disc golfing
  • Stock car racing
  • Go-kart racing and rentals
  • Marathons
  • Warrior races
  • Car shows
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Ice climbing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Sledding
  • Ice skating/roller skating

Incredible, isn’t it? So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started planning your next amazing adventure. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.

Agricultural

Agritourism is growing in the captivating communities in the Starved Rock area thanks to the rich, fertile soil that surrounds them, and an influx of innovative entrepreneurs. Include one or several of the following in your personalized tour itinerary:

  • Grapes, grains and hops
  • Sustainable farms
  • Farmers markets
  • Nurseries
  • Orchards
  • Pumpkin farms
  • Wind farms
  • Corn mazes
  • Petting zoos

Let’s get started planning your next amazing tour or getaway. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.

Americana

It’s like stepping back in time when you discover the warm hospitality, friendly faces, and cool places during your next tour or visit to the area. Here’s our recommendations for enjoying what feels like the “old days” and “simpler times.”

  • Drive-in theater
  • Drive-in diners (car-hop service)
  • Supper clubs
  • Taverns
  • Mom-and-pop shops and grocers
  • Roller rink
  • Record stores
  • Arcades
  • Boys’ and girls’ summer camp
  • Country roads

Let’s get started planning your next tour or getaway. Add one or several of the above stops on your personalized itinerary. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.

Arts

No humdrum here – it’s anything but! – and no shortage of entertainment options, either! Local cultural and community-based performing arts and events are abundant and affordable in our charming communities, including:

  • Community theatre
  • Symphony
  • Concerts
  • Live music
  • Events, festivals, and fairs
  • Comedy shows
  • Art & History Exhibits
  • Workshops
  • Gaming

Let’s get started planning your next amazing getaway or tour. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.

Girlfriend Getaways

Sometimes you just to have to get away, indulge yourself in a little pampering, and decompress with your gal pals. No deadlines, dishes or drudgery; just relaxing and reconnecting with your besties. You deserve it!

  • Boutiques, antiques, and specialty shops
  • Spa and wellness
  • Salt cave
  • Multi-media art sessions
  • Charming tea rooms, coffee shops, and cafes
  • Vintage markets
  • Craft, sewing, and quilting supplies
  • Fairy gardens
  • Sweets shops
  • Home and garden decor
  • Wineries, breweries, and distilleries

You can always add an adventure along the way, too. Check out our other tour options, and let’s get started planning your next amazing getaway with your gal pals. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.

Special Events

Natural beauty and scenery provide the atmosphere free of charge.

Destination weddings and special life events should be about quality time with loved ones, dreams, affordability and, of course, location, location, location. The Starved Rock Area offers that choice destination!

From gardens and mansions to the traditional or extreme, our distinctive venues offer picture-perfect locales that everyone can explore together and find some of the best Instagrams of your life. The rural charm and awe-inspiring scenery will steal your heart.

Whether you’re having your wedding in the area or not, this is also THE place for your engagement, bachelorette, or bachelor party! Tip: Lodging fills up quickly during the high seasons, so it’s best to plan and book early.

We proudly collaborate with many partners to create unforgettable events and experiences. Contact us to get started. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.

History

History lovers, this is your trip!

  • Lincoln National Heritage Area 
  • I&M Canal National Heritage Area
  • Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway
  • Illinois Route 66
  • Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park
  • Locks and dams
  • Notable architecture
  • Mansion tours
  • Historic neighborhoods
  • Murals
  • Museums
  • Monuments
  • Barns

Whether you’re hitting the open road or strolling through a charming town, historic park, or along one of our numerous waterways, fascinating history surrounds you. Let’s get started planning your next tour or getaway. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.

Irish Tales

History lovers and quaint-town aficionados will appreciate this trip, too. Learn more about the vital role Irish immigrants played in the development and growth of our area. Noteworthy sights along the way include:

  • Replica canal boats
  • Locks
  • Aqueducts
  • Toll house/lock-tender’s house
  • Historic grain elevator
  • Churches
  • Cemeteries
  • Trails

Let’s get started planning your amazing tour or getaway. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.

Natural Beauty

You’ll want plenty of time to savor the peace and quiet; breathe in fresh, fragrant air, and soak up all the natural wonders that are scattered throughout the area. You will find plenty of great pit stops along the way, and opportunities aplenty for some of the best Instagrams of your life!

  • State parks
  • Nature and wildlife preserves
  • Canals
  • Creeks
  • Rivers
  • Lush gardens
  • River walks
  • Scenic boat tours
  • Waterfalls
  • Leaf-peeping
  • Birding and eagle watching
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Photography
  • Stargazing

What surprises visitors the most is that we don’t just have farmland and flatland here. We have jaw-droppingly beautiful parks, trails, and awe-inspiring natural vistas that are just a quick drive away. Let’s get started planning your long-overdue, relaxing getaway, or a fun group outing with friends, families or colleagues. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.

Road Trips

No matter the season, an iconic road trip is always warranted. Of course, the area is more thoroughly enjoyed by getting off the highway and exploring from the scenic back roads. You’re sure to discover warm hospitality, nostalgic places, hidden works of art, locally-made products and wares, and the rich history that make up the Starved Rock area and beyond.

  • Canyon Drive
  • Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway
  • Grandview Drive
  • Illinois Route 66

Our central location provides unlimited opportunities for guided and self-guided tours. Let’s get started planning the itinerary for your road trip. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.

Wining and Dining

Many folks agree that their favorite part of a getaway is immersing themselves in the local food and music scene, and sampling delectable specialties, and great chow! Who doesn’t love to wine and dine?!?

  • Local treasures
  • Farm-to-table
  • Ethnic restaurants
  • Unique food shops
  • Nostalgic supper clubs and diners
  • Locally-made brews, wines and spirits
  • Riverfront eateries and Tiki bars
  • Grub and pub crawls

And that’s just a preview of what you can find throughout our service area. You can also expect to find plenty of live music – indoors, outdoors, on land, and on water! Let’s get started planning your next amazing adventure, tour, or getaway. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.

Meetings and Retreats

Make your meeting or retreat a meaningful one and venture outside the conference room.

The best event space or venue is critical to your event’s success and the guests’ experience. Taking a break from the daily grind is always a welcome respite for the team. And what’s a retreat without the “treat”?

There are loads of traditional and, more importantly, non-traditional settings and activities in Starved Rock Country in which to mix business and pleasure and put that “treat” in the retreat.

Whether you’re planning a corporate retreat, meeting, or fundraising event, we can assist you with planning the best one ever! We proudly collaborate with many partners to create unforgettable events and experiences. Let’s get started planning your event. We’re only a click, call, or instant message away. Consultations are always FREE.