Grafton IL For Eagle Hunting & More

This past Wednesday, the Grandkids got out of school at noon. Then we were off! My husband Keith and I decided to head to Litchfield and drive through Steak & Shake. This was the first leg of what our granddaughter Lilly refers to as “Grandcamp” adventures. After a totally non-nutritious, but delicious lunch we headed south to Grafton.

Stopping at the Grafton Visitors Center it was closed and no eagles in sight. Onward we went. (Read all about a previous eagle trip with a stop at this wonderful center .)

Father Marquette & Louis Joliet Landing

Keith is a history buff. On our drive, he kept sharing historical facts with the grandkids. They learned two facts they will never forget. One, at Grafton, the Illinois and Mississippi rivers confluence at Grafton Harbor. Two, if you don’t remember history, it is destined to repeat itself.

By the end of the day they said that had heard it ENOUGH! But, they will remember it.

Our first stop was the stone cross where Father Pere Marquette and Louis Joliet landed with crew members in 1673. The cross marks this remarkable history. There is a nice walk and stairs that two kids who have been stuck in a car for over an hour enjoyed climbing up and down. While Keith reread the history. Next we headed to our next destination, an overlook.

Pere Marquette Overlook

Overlook at Pere Marquette State Park

There are several paths to hike at Pere Marquette State Park. We wanted to share the amazing vista with the grandkids. “Is this a flat hike, or a mountain type hike,” our grandson Cade inquired as we got out of the car.

Flat we said, which made him smile. We headed to the overlook and they were thrilled to meet a beautiful white Russian dog named Hank along the way. The gentleman that owned Hank was from St. Charles. He had seen several eagles at home before coming to Grafton. The 9 month old pup, already the size of a grown Lab was friendly and ready to run. The view was breathtaking. Even the kids were (briefly) impressed.

Pere Marquette Visitors Center

Chris the ranger at the Visitors Center let the grandkids hold the turtle .

Masked up and staying socially distanced we stopped at the Visitor’s Center at Pere Marquette State Park. The kids enjoyed a quick look around. This also offers a great bathroom stop!

The grandkids saw several animals (including a taxidermized bald eagle).

At the center, they offer, The Self-Guided, Socially-Distanced Bald Eagle Tour! I picked this up and the ranger asked if we had binoculars. We said we did not. This was so nice, we were able to check a few out binoculars for the rest of the afternoon!

On our return the kids also were able to hold a turtle that Cade had been admiring on our first visit. This is a great place for kids to visit and enjoy!

Looking for Eagles

The whole reason for the trip was looking for Eagles! We took the binoculars and headed across the street to the marina. Chris the ranger told us. “You usually see the near the tree tops by squirrel nests or by driftwood.”

We looked and sure enough, across the water we spied one lone eagle! Was it a big find, no, but we did find an eagle, so we felt success. Eagles come to Grafton between December and February. This makes a nice window for coming to this lovely area during the winter. Chris the guide said that the eagles are more prevalent during colder weather.


We tried going downtown Grafton, but it was a bust. Stores were closed. The kids spied an ice-cream and fudge shop that said open. And it was, everyday except Wednesday. “Evil Wednseday,” was Cade’s proclamation.

On down the road o Elsah, a beautiful historic town. Built in the 1850’s and 1870’s, the entire town is on the historic register. We stopped in the Elsah General Store. This is really more a gift shop, bakery with many items from St. Louis shops. We all got treats and I found a marvelous silicone, collapsible popcorn bowl by Ella & Ollie that pops corn in the microwave without oil! I also bought their organic popcorn grown on their farm in Belleville. This is a place I want to visit.

Kids were impressed with the train set on display. The store was a fun stop.

The beautiful scenery in this area is amazing.

Supper was a stop in Litchfield at the Ariston, which the kids have deemed a new favorite. This restaurant is along the fabled Route 66 with amazing food to boot. A great day. A grandcamp to add to the memory box.

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