This sample itinerary may be customized for any time of year.
Located in the northwest part of Illinois, the Blackhawk Waterways region offers a wide variety of visitor destinations. They take care of all the details so you can offer your group a fun, relaxing and educational experience. This unique, 3-night mystery tour offers your group a combination of presidential history, theatre, quirky eating establishments and out-of-the-ordinary accommodations.
Arrive in Dixon, IL.
Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home
Tour the home that the Reagan family resided in from 1920 to 1923. Meander through the newly remodeled Visitor Center and Gift Shop, which features books and gifts highlighting the Reagan legacy lifeline.
Northwest Territory Historic Center
The NW Territory Historic Research & Learning Center is housed in President Ronald Reagan’s boyhood South Central School. The Center is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and houses historical exhibits, art gallery, surround-sound theater and museum store. Along with rotating Smithsonian exhibits, they have two permanent exhibits geared to enrich the understanding of regional Native American life and early American farming. Speaking lifelike figures enrich the perception of life and the struggle to thrive in the 19th century. Narrative panels give details about years of the Native Americans’ struggle to keep their land. Aspects of the settler’s lifestyle plus the implements and tools that helped settle the West are also showcased.
Check in to your group-friendly hotel.
5 – 6:30pm
Enjoy a full banquet at the Galena Steakhouse, which offers fine dining in a casual atmosphere.
The experts at Distinctive Gardens will give a horticulture decorating demonstration or offer a DIY project for gardens. Known as the garden lover’s nursery and gift shop, Distinctive Gardens specializes in creative container gardening, hard-to-find unusual annuals, perennials, and woody plants along with garden and fine art by regional artists.
After breakfast, travel to Fulton, IL on the banks of the Mississippi River.
9 – 11:00am
Take a tour of Fulton’s Dutch Windmill & Cultural Center. In honor of the rich Dutch heritage found in Fulton, De Immigrant, an authentic working windmill, was prefabricated in the Netherlands and erected by Dutch craftsmen on the banks of the Mississippi River. The Windmill Cultural Center is located across the street and houses an extensive collection of 21 European windmills that vary in size between three feet and six feet tall and are from ten European countries. Informative interpretive exhibits provide unique information on the products produced by windmills, country of origin, windmill specifications, and the cultural impact of windmills. The gift shop sells fresh stone-ground flour, Delft pottery, and souvenirs of Fulton, the Windmill Cultural Center, and the windmill.
11:00am – 1:00pm
Travel to Savanna for lunch at Poopy’s Pub & Grub. Named one of Illinois’ top ten burger destinations, it’s a fun and quirky lunch stop for bus groups.
1 – 4:00pm
Located high atop a hill overlooking the Mississippi River is Havencrest Castle. Love and beauty fill every corner of this one-of-a-kind attraction. Visitors are left with an unforgettable experience of beauty, elegance, and fantasy embraced by a never-ending love story told throughout the lavishly furnished 63 rooms. NOTE: Havencrest Castle is not handicap accessible so an alternative tour of the Savanna Cultural Museum is offered.
4 – 5:00pm
Load up the bus and travel to White Pines Inn Cabins, located in the heart of White Pines State Park. White Pines Inn resembles a pioneer village with 25 authentic one-room log cabins with A/C and gas fireplaces. Set among the towering pines, the cabins have beautiful hardwood floors the color of maple syrup. Each cabin has a queen, hand-hewn log bed with a double bed trundle underneath, and a private bath. There are 13 one-room cabins with open-beamed ceilings.
Check into your cabins and freshen up before heading to the White Pines Inn Lodge for cocktails, which will be followed by a catered picnic on the grounds of the White Pines State Park. Finish the day around a relaxing campfire, complete with marshmallows and the sound of the crickets in the peace and quiet of the White Pines Forest.
9:30 – 11:30am
Following breakfast (included in your cabin rental) at the White Pines Inn Lodge, you will load the bus for Barnacopia. The Barnacopia Farm Museum offers 3 levels of antique tractors, cars, vintage farm equipment and a replica of a ‘50s & ‘60s diner. A restored 1946 Ford tractor is set into the floor underneath glass and looks as if it never spent a day in the fields. A ride in the elevator, located inside a silo, takes you to the second floor where there’s a replica movie theater, chapel and restored classic cars, which include an old state trooper patrol vehicle. Then return to White Pines State Park.
11:30am – 4:00pm
Enjoy a delightful afternoon at the White Pines Dinner Theatre and experience live productions that range from comedies to favorite musicals. The matinee will also include a fabulous home-cooked buffet with all the trimmings. After the production, browse the unique Gift Shop offering gifts, fudge, and more.
4 – 5:00pm
After the show travel to Oregon and board the Pride of Oregon, an authentic paddle wheel boat, to enjoy a river cruise on the Rock River. Enjoy the breathtaking views of the river and the famous 50 ft. Black Hawk Statue, which sits 125 feet above the water. This tribute to Native Americans was sculpted by Lorado Taft in 1911 and is known as the second-largest cement monolith in the world.
Enjoy cocktails at White Pines Inn followed by a build-your-own sandwich buffet with all the trimmings. End the evening around the campfire sharing stories and indulging in S’mores while a guitarist entertains your group with singing around the fire.
8 – 9:00am
Start the day with White Pines’ famous Paul Bunyan Breakfast served family style.
Depart for Grand Detour and the John Deere Historic Site.
John Deere Historic Site, Grand Detour
Visit John Deere’s restored pioneer home and special archaeological exhibit of the original blacksmith shop where John Deere invented the plow. Your tour includes a short video presentation on the history of the plow, a tour of the John Deere home and a working blacksmith demonstration. This historic site also features a gift shop.
For more information or to customize this itinerary for your group, contact Lori King, Group Tour Coordinator, at the Blackhawk Waterways CVB: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.visitnorthwestillinois.com.