Fall Driving Tours

The crisp bite of fall is in the air — you can almost taste the apple cider and doughnuts and smell the leaves burning in the fresh, cool air. Stephenson County is well known for its rolling countryside and rustic farms, but another one of our great treasures is the beautiful old trees that grace the highways and byways of this county; legend has it that Johnny Appleseed planted many of these trees himself. Of course, when you combine autumn, beautiful old trees, rustic farms and rolling hills — you have a wonderland for fall drives.

As a starting place for all of our self-guided driving tours, we suggest that you begin at the Freeport/Stephenson County Visitors Center, 4596 US Highway 20 East, Freeport. We also suggest that you pick up a Freeport/Stephenson County Visitors Guide, “Come on in…the door is open!“, which will give you additional details about the attractions and businesses on the tours.

 

Trails:

PEARL CITY/LORAN
STAGECOACH TRAIL/LENA
LENA/MCCONNELL/CEDARVILLE
THE HOG BACK/ORANGEVILLE
WINSLOW/LE-AQUA-NA STATE PARK/LENA
FREEPORT/KRAPE PARK
DAKOTA/ROCK CITY/DAVIS

 

PEARL CITY/LORAN

(37 miles, 50 minutes)

Drive west on Highway 20 from the Visitors Center. A great way to start a fall driving tour is with a bite to eat so check out the Route 20 Bar & Grill and enjoy one of their specialities. Continue west on Highway 20. On your right is Harbach Meats offering home-raised beef and pork. If the kids are with you, or if you’re the adventurous sort, try the roller skating at the Skate Station. Continuing on Highway 20 you will come to the small community of Eleroy where you can make a visit to Huron Garden Market (with a flea market on weekends). Continue down the road a bit more and start “pickin'” at Picker’s Place, a treasure-trove of antiques, collectibles and unique finds. You can stretch your legs and enjoy a snack at the roadside tables just outside of Eleroy. A little farther up the road and on the right is a whole complex to explore. Discover The Mill Furnishings and Design with its fine furniture and accessories; shop for special gifts and delectable gourmet packaged food items at The Red Barn and relax over lunch or dinner in the beautiful Rafters Restaurant. Also, check out Lena Brewing Company which is preparing to open soon and which will include a tasting room to enjoy their brews.

Continue on Highway 20 to Highway 73. Turn south (left) on Highway 73 to the Village of Pearl City. Make a stop at Yellow Creek Quilt Designs, 160 S. Main Street, for ques, quilts, fabrics, and other unique items. Just down the street is the charming Yellow Creek Inn with casual dining in the unique setting of a restored building. Continue on Highway 73 through Pearl City for about one mile to Loran Road.

At Loran Road turn west (right) and you will be treated to views of rolling hills, patchworked acres of grain, peaceful, rustic valleys and white steepled churches. Several hilltop roads provide a vista of the beautiful valleys dotted with houses and farms. As you enter Loran, turn south (left) and continue through the quaint village. As you exit the village, the road is tree-lined and sloping, providing one of the best views of fall color in the area.

At this point, you may either turn around at Hershey Road to make a side trip to the Black Hawk War Monument (see the following) or continue on Loran Road for approximately 18 miles to Mt. Carroll in Carroll County. For more information about Carroll County, please pick up a brochure available at the Freeport/Stephenson County Visitors Center or call the Blackhawk Waterways Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-678-2108.

A visit to the Black Hawk War Monument will take approximately fifteen minutes and covers about six miles. Go back through the Village of Loran to the church at the intersection of Loran Road and Kent Road. Go straight ahead on Kent Road for approximately two miles to the stop sign. Turn northwest (left) and continue on Kent Road to Blackhawk Road. Turn east (right) on Blackhawk Road to the junction of Blackhawk and Monument Roads where the monument sits atop the hill in Kellogg’s Grove.

Kellogg’s Grove was established by Oliver Kellogg in 1827 as a stopping point for travelers on the trail between Peoria and Galena. The settlement was the site of the last battle in Illinois between Chief Black Hawk and the Illinois militia. The Black Hawk War Monument honors those killed in the battles both at this grove as well as over the entire region. Abraham Lincoln, who at the time was a young member of the Illinois militia, helped to bury five of the slain men.

Although the slain soldiers were originally buried throughout the area at the spots at which they fell, fifty years after the war ended, area farmers initiated a movement to collect the remains and bury them in one enclosure with a fitting monument. The monument was erected in 1886. Kellogg’s Grove is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The park at the monument offers a lovely spot for a picnic, overlooking the rolling hills and valleys.

To return to Highway 20 and the Visitors Center, turn north (left) on Monument Road for one mile to the stop sign at Dublin Road. Go straight ahead on Kent Road to Highway 20. Turn east (right) for about twenty miles to return to the Visitors Center.

 

STAGECOACH TRAIL/LENA

(27 miles, 40 minutes)

Drive west on Highway 20 from the Visitors Center. A great way to start a fall driving tour is with a bite to eat so check out the Route 20 Bar & Grill and enjoy one of their specialities. Continue west on Highway 20. On your right is Harbach Meats offering home-raised beef and pork. If the kids are with you, or if you’re the adventurous sort, try the roller skating at the Skate Station. Continuing on Highway 20 you will come to the small community of Eleroy where you can make a visit to Huron Garden Market (with a flea market on weekends). Continue down the road a bit more and start “pickin'” at Picker’s Place, a treasure-trove of antiques, collectibles and unique finds. You can stretch your legs and enjoy a snack at the roadside tables just outside of Eleroy. A little farther up the road and on the right is a whole complex to explore. Discover The Mill Furnishings and Design with its fine furniture and accessories; shop for special gifts and delectable gourmet packaged food items at The Red Barn and relax over lunch or dinner in the beautiful Rafters Restaurant. Also, check out Lena Brewing Company which is preparing to open soon and which will include a tasting room to enjoy their brews. Just beyond is the first of two turn-offs for Stagecoach Trail (also called Galena Road). {At this point, you may want to take a side trip to the Black Hawk War Monument – see the information at the end of this tour.} Turn north (right) at this junction.

Stagecoach Trail is also called the Chicago/Galena Trail as it is the trail that the J.D. Winters and the Frink & Walker Stagecoaches used. In 1839, the Frink & Walker Stagecoach Company extended their Freeport to Galena route to Chicago, forcing J.D. Winters out of business. At that time, the trip between Chicago and Galena took five days.

As you travel down Stagecoach Trail, you will enter Lena. Lena is filled with specialty and antique shops as well as eateries. Enjoy the day at Lions Park, with picnic areas, a water park, and miniature golf, or if you would like to explore the village of Lena, turn southwest (left) at the stop sign onto Schuyler Street. Visit Down on the Farm Toys and More for farm toys. Just a few blocks from here is Busy B Embroidery where you can shop for crafts, sports clothing and more. We also suggest you explore the downtown area including Blown Away Art & Framing Destination, Kitchen Carvers, Engel’s Jewelry and Gifts, Natural Healing Express, McArthur’s Reclaimed Treasures, DeVoe Floral, or the wonderful Lena Mercantile with great gifts as well as a fabulous eatery. Also be sure to check out the unique food specialties at AJ’s Lena Maid Meats. If you are interested in lodging, enjoy the Lena KOA, located on Highway 20, with cabins, cottages and traditional campsites.

Return to Stagecoach Trail as it winds out of Lena and into the countryside. If you like bargains, make a stop at My Friend’s Closet, an excellent resale shop. Enjoy a bite to eat at an old-fashioned drive in with carhop service at the Lena Drive Inn. If supper is on your mind, be sure to try either Beach’s Supper Club. About two and a half miles out of Lena, you will pass the highest point in Stephenson County which is marked by a radio tower and is in Waddams Grove. The view of the surrounding area from this vantage point is stunning as miles and miles of farmland are laid out below you. On this drive you can also view the majestic windmills that are one of Stephenson County’s newest industries. Take a picnic or playground break at Schudt Park in Waddams Grove.

Stagecoach Trail goes through Waddams Grove and then continues to Jo Daviess County. For more information about Jo Daviess County, please pick up a brochure at the Visitors Center or call the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau toll-free at 1-866-442-3200.

If you would like to take an interesting side trip, the Black Hawk War Monument is a wonderful stop in the fall. It will take approximately twenty minutes and covers about fifteen miles (round trip). Continue west on Route 20 to Kent Road. Turn south (left) on Kent Road and continue to the stop sign at Dublin Road. Go straight ahead on the gravel road (Monument Road) for approximately one mile. The monument sits atop the hill in Kellogg’s Grove..

Kellogg’s Grove was established by Oliver Kellogg in 1827 as a stopping point for travelers on the trail between Peoria and Galena. The settlement was the site of the last battle in Illinois between Chief Black Hawk and the Illinois militia. The

Black Hawk War Monument honors those killed in the battles both at this grove as well as over the entire region. Abraham Lincoln, who at the time was a young member of the Illinois militia, helped to bury five of the slain men.

Although the slain soldiers were originally buried throughout the area at the spots at which they fell, fifty years after the war ended, area farmers initiated a movement to collect the remains and bury them in one enclosure with a fitting monument. The monument was erected in 1886. Kellogg’s Grove is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The park at the monument offers a lovely spot for a picnic, overlooking the rolling hills and valleys. To return to Stagecoach Trail, return to Highway 20 and turn east (right) to Highway 73. Turn north (left) onto Highway 73 which will lead you into Lena and to the Stagecoach Trail.

 

LENA/MCCONNELL/CEDARVILLE

(54 miles, 1 hour)

Drive west on Highway 20 from the Visitors Center. A great way to start a fall driving tour is with a bite to eat so check out the Route 20 Bar & Grill and enjoy one of their specialities. As you leave their parking lot, turn north (right) onto AYP Road which stands for Atlantic, Yellowstone and Pacific. Follow AYP as it curves over the rolling hills until you reach Cedarville Road. Turn west (left) onto Cedarville Road which will bring you to Stagecoach Trail (also called Galena Road) in the village of Lena. Turn north (right) onto Stagecoach Trail and continue to Lake Street. Turn north (right) on Lake Street.

At the corner of Lake and Grove Street is the Lena Area Historical Museum with its unique collection of memorabilia, an Illinois Central Caboose, a blacksmith shop, a summer kitchen, Lena’s first log school house, the Lena Chapel, and a barn filled with artifacts. In September, the museum will feature “Peace Together: The Importance of Women’s Social Groups Created Through Quilting”. During the exhibit, the museum will be open Saturday and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm.

Lake Street Road takes you out of Lena and into the countryside. On your left will be Lily Pad Gardens and Nursery with annuals, perennials, and great fall flowers. Continue on Lake Road about another two miles to Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park which offers 715 acres with a 40 acre lake. Enjoy boating, fishing, playground areas, a beach, hiking trails, picnic areas, and camping. Be sure to at least enjoy the drive through the park over the rolling hills.

You will cross Highway 73 and at this point, Lake Road becomes McConnell Road. The road is lined with trees and rustic farms. Continue on McConnell Road to the village of McConnell. If you like to canoe or just want to take a pleasant break along the river, consider a stop at the McConnell Bobtown Landing which provides access to the Pecatonica River. For canoe rental contact the Freeport Canoe Company at 815-541-0869. Continue on McConnell Road/Main Street to the McConnell Area Historical Museum with its displays of McConnell historical items. The museum is open Saturday, October 11, from 1 pm to 4 pm. At the edge of the village at the McConnell Fire Station, McConnell Road turns southeast (right). Continue on McConnell Road as you wind through more rural settings and then through Buena Vista. Just past Buena Vista (about one-third of a mile), turn south (right) onto Red Oak Road and follow it through the hamlet of Red Oak to Cedarville.

Cedarville is a charming village and was home to Jane Addams, founder of Chicago’s Hull House and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Before you enter the village, you will pass Cedarville Cemetery, a lovely old hillside cemetery, where Jane Addams and her family are buried. Just past the cemetery on your left at the curve, notice the large white home. This was where Jane Addams grew up.

Red Oak Road turns into Mill Street. Follow Mill Street to Second Avenue and turn west (right) on Second Avenue to the Cedarville Historical Museum, a quaint museum located in a red brick school house built in 1889. The museum features a permanent display honoring Jane Addams and is open on Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, May thru October. From the museum, return to Mill Street and turn south (right) to Cherry Street. Turn east (left) on Cherry. Notice the old stone jail house on your left. Continue down Cherry Street to Stephenson Street which is also Illinois Route 26. Turn south (right) on Highway 26. Make a stop at Cedarville Art Glass where artist Dan Edler creates fine art glass and sculpture. Continue south on Highway 26 to Cedarville Road. Turn east (left) on Cedarville Road for a visit to Famous Fossil Vineyard & Winery where you will find the best in robust reds, fresh, crisp whites, luscious fruit wines, delicious cheese and other locally produced foods. The winery is open daily June thru December from 11 am to 6 pm. Return to Illinois Route 26 and follow the highway into Freeport or to the intersection of Highway 20 which will take you east to the Freeport/Stephenson County Visitors Center and Rockford or west to Galena.

 

THE HOG BACK/ORANGEVILLE

(45 miles, 1 ½ hours – Paved and Gravel Roads)

This lightly traveled route, known locally as “The Hog Back”, runs atop the sharp ridge west of Richland Creek, and provides the wanderer with stunning views of rolling hills, quaint villages, and glorious fall foliage.

Drive west on Highway 20 from the Visitors Center for approximately 12 miles. Great food is available at your first stop at Route 20 Bar & Grill. As you leave their parking lot, turn north (right) on AYP Road which stands for Atlantic, Yellowstone and Pacific. Follow AYP just six tenths of a mile and turn east (right) on Winneshiek Road. Winneshiek Road will come to a “T”, turn north (left) and follow Winneshiek for another mile. Turn north (left) on Iris Hill Road. Iris Hill Road takes you into Scioto Mills. Scioto Mills, now a sleepy little hamlet, was once a bustling village boasting a grist mill, train depot, post office, and numerous stores. Note the Jane Addams Recreation Trail which begins just west of Freeport and continues north for approximately 13 miles to the Wisconsin state line. It is a multi-use trail and you may want to stop for a brief walk or bike ride. Trailheads are available at the north end of the trail in the Village of Orangeville and at the south end at the Wes Block Trail Access.

From Iris Hill Road turn west (left) on Scioto Mills Road. Then turn east (right) on Cedarville Road. Follow Cedarville Road ½ mile and turn north (left) on Scheider Road. At the stop sign on Scheider Road, turn west (left) on Beaver Road. Scheider Road resumes at the top of the hill to your right. Continue on Scheider Road to McConnell Road which is a distance of 4 miles. This section of road is the highest point of your drive and will provide you with a glorious view of the surrounding countryside – rich fields and lovely woods.

Turn west (left) on McConnell Road and follow it to Wagner Road. Turn north (right) on Wagner Road to Orangeville Road. Turn (north) right on Orangeville Road to the stop sign at the intersection of Highway 26. Go straight ahead on High Street into the Village of Orangeville. Note the Richland Creek Trailhead for the Jane Addams Trail on your left.

For a bite to eat, try Mau’s Haus with great food and regular specials. Continue on High Street. On your left you will see The Central House. Although this is a private residence, The Central House has a rich history as Orangeville’s hotel. It was built in 1890 and was recently restored and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the right side of the street just beyond the Post Office, notice the Gothic Revival brick home. This home which is a private residence is also on the National Register and was built in 1849 by Orangeville’s founder, John Bower. Continuing east on High Street, you will see the Mighty Richland Players Dinner/Dessert Theater with productions presented on weekends from September through March. “Opal’s Million Dollar Duck” is being presented October 26-28. Call 815-819-1310 for reservations.

(At this point, you may want to take a side trip to Hogback Haven to purchase pure, homemade maple products — see the information at the end of this tour.)

Return to Highway 26 and turn north (right) for one mile to Oneco Road. Turn west (left) on Oneco Road. Uniquely Yours Quilt Shop, offering quilting fabrics, patterns and supplies, is on the right. Return to Highway 26 and turn south (right) to the Village of Cedarville.

Cedarville is a charming village and was home to Jane Addams, founder of Chicago’s Hull House and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Continue into Cedarville on Highway 26 to Oak Street. Turn west (right) on Oak Street to Mill Street. Turn north (right) on Mill Street to Second Avenue. Turn west (left) on Second Avenue to the Cedarville Historical Museum, a quaint museum located in a red brick school house built in 1889. The museum features a permanent display honoring Jane Addams and is open on Saturday and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm, May thru October. From the museum, return to Mill Street. Turn north (left) on Mill Street. As you make the curve, notice the large white home on your right. This was the childhood home of Jane Addams which is a private residence. Continue on Mill Street to the Cedarville Cemetery, a lovely old hillside cemetery, where Jane Addams and her family are buried. From the cemetery, return on Mill Street to the Village and follow Mill Street to Washington Street. Turn east (left) on Washington Street to Illinois Route 26. At the intersection, proceed straight ahead on Cedarville Road. Follow it to Famous Fossil Vineyard & Winery where you will find the best in robust reds, fresh, crisp whites, luscious fruit wines, delicious cheese and other locally produced foods. The winery is open daily June thru December from 11 am to 6 pm. Return to Illinois Route 26 and turn south (left). You can follow the highway into Freeport or to the intersection of Highway 20 which will take you east to the Freeport/Stephenson County Visitors Center and Rockford or west to Galena.

If you enjoy homemade maple syrup, you may want to take a 4 mile side trip from Orangeville to Hogback Haven. The Elsasser family has made sugaring a family tradition. Every spring they collect the sap from maple trees on their farm and from surrounding sugar bushes in Illinois and Wisconsin. Then they use a wood-fired evaporator to boil away the water and turn the sap into sweet syrup. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of pure, natural syrup. They also make maple cream and maple candy. The Elsasser’s welcome visitors to Hogback Haven, but it is suggested that a call to them at 815-789-4419 prior to your visit is a good idea.

A visit to Hogback Haven will cover approximately 8 miles round trip and does include several gravel roads. Take High Street in Orangeville east to the stop sign. Go straight ahead on Rock Grove Road, following the left curve which leads you out of Orangeville. Follow Rock Grove Road to Henderson Road, turn north (left) on Henderson to Eldorado Road. Notice the cemetery at this intersection with some wonderful old monuments. Turn east (right) on Eldorado to Hogback Road. Turn north (left) on Hogback. Hogback Haven is the last farm on your left before the road curves and becomes Stateline Road.

 

WINSLOW/LE-AQUA-NA STATE PARK/LENA

(49 miles, 1 hour, 15 minutes – Paved and Gravel Roads)

Drive west on Highway 20 from the Visitors Center for approximately 12 miles. Great food is available at your first stop at Route 20 Bar & Grill. As you leave their parking lot, turn north (right) on AYP Road which stands for Atlantic, Yellowstone and Pacific. Follow AYP Road as it curves over the rolling hills until you reach Cedarville Road. Turn east (right) and go three-tenths of a mile (just past the bridge) to Damascus Road. Turn north (left) on Damascus Road. If you like to canoe or just want to take a pleasant break along the river, consider a stop at McNeil’s Damascus Landing which provides access to the Pecatonica River. For canoe rental contact the Freeport Canoe Company at 815-541-0869. Continue on Damascus Road 4½ miles to McConnell Road. Turn west (left) following the road into the small village of McConnell. The McConnell Area Historical Museum with its displays of McConnell historical items will be on the right. The museum is open Saturday, October 11, from 1 pm to 4 pm. Follow McConnell Road west to Old Mill Road and turn north (right). Follow Old Mill Road for 2 miles and turn west (left) on Basswood Road. Old Mill and Basswood are narrow and winding gravel roads offering suddenly exposed vistas of rolling hills and patchwork fields.

Basswood Road will bring you to Winslow Road. Turn west (left) and drive into the charming village of Winslow. Make a stop at the Winslow Historical Society Museum with its displays of Winslow history. The museum is open October 11 from 1 pm to 4 pm. Just one door from the Museum is Bobber’s River Tap, an open-deck outdoor bar along the banks of the Pecatonica River. If you have a fishing pole with you, you may want to see watch you can catch or at the very least enjoy a cold drink on the deck. Turn south (left) on Highway 73 to the Artesian Well At Paradise Cove which is an attraction you don’t want to miss. Located on the edge of the business district, Paradise Cove is a natural artesian well where thousands of gallons of pure water flow each day. Enjoy its flower gardens, walking path, gazebo and covered bridge. It’s a wonderful spot to relax.

Follow Highway 73 South. Turn west (right) on Lake Road to Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park; the park entrance will be on your right. Lake Le-Aqua-Na offers 715 acres with a 40 acre lake. Enjoy boating, fishing, playground areas, a beach, hiking trails, picnic areas, and camping. Be sure to at least enjoy the drive through the park over the rolling hills.

As you leave the State Park, turn north (left) onto Lake Road and then immediately turn east (right) on Shippee Road for about a three mile scenic drive. Follow Shippee Road to Highway 73 and then turn southwest (right) to the Village of Lena.

Follow Highway 73 (Schuyler Street) to the business district on Railroad and Main Streets. Do some shopping at Blown Away Art & Framing Destination, Lena Mercantile and Eatery, Engel’s Jewelry and Gifts, McArthur’s Reclaimed Treasures, DeVoe Floral, Natural Healing Express, or Kitchen Carvers. Be sure to check out the unique food specialties at AJ’s Lena Maid Meats. Return to Highway 73 to visit Country Windmill for a wide selection of gifts and Down on the Farm Toys and More for farm toys. If you are interested in lodging, enjoy the Lena KOA with cottages, cabins and traditional campsites located on U.S. Highway 20.

Continue on Highway 73 until you reach Highway 20 at which point you may turn east (left) to return to the Visitors Center or west (right) towards Galena and Jo Daviess County. For more information about Jo Daviess County, please pick up a brochure at the Freeport/Stephenson County Visitors Center or call the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau toll-free at 1-877-464-2536.

 

FREEPORT/KRAPE PARK

MINI-TOURS:

Silver Creek & Stephenson Railroad/Oakdale Nature Preserve
Stephenson County Historical Museum/Freeport Arts Center
Downtown Freeport/Lincoln-Douglas Debate Square

(10 miles, 20 minutes)

Drive west on Highway 20 from the Visitors Center and take the Business 20 Exit into Freeport. As you enter the City, move to the left lane and proceed straight ahead on South Street. Follow South Street to Illinois Highway 26/West Avenue. Turn north (right) on West Avenue to Empire Street. Turn west (left) on Empire Street. If you have an appetite for cheese, turn left on Harlem Avenue and head for The Cheese Market offering fine local cheeses, sausage, jams and other local products. Returning to Empire on your right you will see Little Cubs Field, a to-scale replica of Wrigley Field complete with ivy, bricks, and box seats from the real Wrigley. Although the field may be rented for up to two hours at a time (which may be done online at www.littlecubsfield.com), feel free to stop and play a little ball if the field is not being used. Continue on Empire to Park Boulevard. Turn south (left) on Park Boulevard which will take you into Krape Park.

Krape Park is the jewel in the crown of Freeport’s over 600 acres of parkland. As you cross the bridge, notice the waterfall on your right. Directly ahead of you is an old fashioned carousel which offers rides for $0.50. Both kids and adults are welcome. The lower level of the park is filled with playground areas, including the unique Kid’s Kastle, designed by kids and built by volunteers. There are canoes and paddleboats (watch for the big yellow ducks, swans and dragon) to rent to go down Yellow Creek, and, of course, there are lots of picnicking areas throughout the park. Be sure to wander in the Commissioner’s Garden and make a visit to “Whoofle”, a very special dragon, climb the rock (near the carousel), enjoy a snack by the bandshell or stop for a round of miniature golf at Cascading Waters Miniature Golf Course.

Make the full circle of the lower level, go back across the bridge and take a left to the second level of the park. Follow the road as it meanders next to Yellow Creek. Slow down and get a close up look at the waterfall. As you continue, watch for the Twin Caves in the far bank on your left. Continue on the road and keep to the right as it goes up Flagstaff Hill where you will find more playgrounds and picnic areas as well as a Disc Golf Course. At this point, you may depart the Park via Park Boulevard and return to Highway 20 or if you would like to explore more, Freeport offers several fine museums, parks, specialty shops, restaurants, and attractive lodging on the following “mini-tours”. Each “mini-tour” uses Krape Park as the starting point.

Silver Creek & Stephenson Railroad/Oakdale Nature Preserve

As you descend Flagstaff Hill in Krape Park, do not exit, but instead continue again around the same loop, past the waterfall and Twin Caves. This time, instead of going to the right up Flagstaff Hill, turn left across the bridge. If you have the time and the disposition, there is a wonderful quarter mile long nature trail to the right, just over the bridge, which offers a serene and easy walk. Cross the bridge and take the first right. This road and the rows of beautiful maples that line it will take you to Fairgrounds Road. At the stop sign, turn east (left) and follow Fairgrounds Road. You will cross Highway 26 at the stoplight and continue on Fairgrounds Road until it ends at Walnut Road. Turn south (right) on Walnut Road. On your right will be the All Veterans Memorial Park which honors all Stephenson County veterans. Continue on Walnut Road to the Silver Creek and Stephenson Railroad and Museum at the junction of Walnut and Lamm Roads. On your left will be the Train Station, and the Museum will be on the right.

Purchase your ticket at the Silver Creek Depot and take a four mile ride through farmlands and across a bridge 30 feet above Yellow Creek. Browse for novelties in the Freight House and visit the Silvercreek Museum across the street. The train and museum are open on October 4-5 and 18-19. The train runs from 11 am until 4 pm with the train departing on the hour and the museum is open the same hours. On October 11, 18 and 23, the train will also be running a special Train of Terror from 6 pm to 9 pm which is great fun for kids and adults as you take a “spooktacular” journey past haunted scenes.

Continue your journey by turning east (left) on Lamm Road. Follow Lamm Road until it comes to Baileyville Road. Turn south (right) on Baileyville Road for one mile. On your right will be the entrance to Oakdale Nature Preserve. This Preserve offers 133 acres of oak and hickory woods, restored prairies and two streams with four miles of winding trails for hiking and exploring, or choose to just sit under the huge old trees and enjoy the serenity of this beautiful fall spot.

Return to Baileyville Road and turn north (left) on Baileyville Road. Make a stop at DeMeester Flower Shop and Greenhouses for indoor and outdoor plants, silk arrangements and more.

Stephenson County Historical Museum/Freeport Art Museum

From the lower level of Krape Park, follow the road past Kid’s Kastle and the boat docks and up the hill. Keep to your right at the split in the road. At the second split, turn north (left) onto Woodside Drive. Follow Woodside Drive with its beautiful homes along the shady lanes to Highway 26 (West Street). Turn north (left) on Highway 26 to the third stoplight which is South Street. Turn east (right) on South Street and go approximately 1½ miles to Carroll Avenue. Turn north (left) on Carroll Avenue to the Stephenson County Historical Museum which will be on your left. This lovely museum is housed in an Italianate home built by Oscar and Malvina Taylor in 1857. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is filled with wonderful exhibits including a permanent exhibit of cast iron Arcade toys which were manufactured in Freeport. Also on the grounds are a one-room schoolhouse, a log cabin, and a farm museum. Enjoy the arboretum with its more than 75 varieties of trees and plants. Regular museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday Noon to 4 pm. From the Museum, turn north (left) on Carroll Avenue to Empire Street. Turn west (left) onto Empire. Follow Empire to Highway 26 (West Avenue). Note Freeport High School on your right. Freeport is the home of “The Pretzels”, which we admit is a rather unusual school name, but which came from the large number of German bakeries with their pretzel specialties which existed in the city in the past.

Turn north (right) on Highway 26 and follow it to the second stoplight which is Stephenson Street. Turn west (left) on Stephenson Street to Harlem Avenue. Freeport Memorial Hospital will be on your left and Harlem Avenue on your right. Turn north (right) on Harlem Avenue to the Freeport Art Museum. The Art Museum has six permanent galleries as well as special exhibits. The Center is open every Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm and Saturday from Noon to 5 pm.

Downtown Freeport/Lincoln-Douglas Debate Square

From the lower level of Krape Park, follow the road past Kid’s Kastle and the boat docks and up the hill. At the split in the road, keep to your right. At the second split, turn north (left) onto Woodside Drive. Follow Woodside Drive with its beautiful homes along the shady lanes to Highway 26 (West Street). Turn north (left) on Highway 26 to Stephenson Street. Turn east (right) on Stephenson which, at Locust Street, will make a right jog and then a left jog, turning into Main Street. Follow Main Street to downtown Freeport.

You will find lots of specialty and antique shops including Allens Menswear, Bargains-R-Us, Celia’s Gifts, Antiques and Home Furnishings, Christian Supply Store, The Clothes Bin and Gift Shop, Coles…A Confectionary, Deininger Floral Shop, Dragon Popcorn, Frank Jewelers, Freeport Bicycle Company, Jennings Cards and Currency, Luecke’s Antique MallLuecke JewelersMary’s Mantle, Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio, Napa Valley Salvage Co., Odds and Ends, Rite-Way Furniture and Appliance, Royal Oaks Antiques and Collectables, Sally’s Cookie Jar, Strands, Studio 218 Salon and Spa, T & D Toy & Hobby, Twice As Nice Consignments, Twice As Nice HomeWagner’s Business Products/Furniture, Wall of Yarn, Zealous Art Studio and Tattoo, and several restaurants including Nine East Coffee, Amigos, Landmark Family Restaurant, Main Street BistroPJ’s Stephenson Street Station, and This Is It Eatery. We suggest parking and exploring the businesses in the downtown.

When you’re done shopping, continue east on Main Street to State Avenue. Turn north (left) on State to the intersection of Douglas Street. Here you will find Debate Square which was the site of the second of the famous debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. It was at this site on August 27, 1858, that the”Freeport Doctrine”, an important statement regarding slavery and state’s rights, was established. The site is commemorated by a life size statue, “Lincoln and Douglas in Debate” and a granite boulder dedicated by President Teddy Roosevelt. While you are enjoying the history of the site, try one of the specialties at the Union Dairy which is open through October next to Debate Square. You may also want to take the opportunity to visit the lovely Freeport Public Library, just to the west of Debate Square. Be sure to see the “Lincoln Reading” statue on the first floor. At this point, you may want to stop for the night at one of Freeport’s many fine lodging facilities or enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants. Or to return to Highway 20, continue east on Douglas to Adams. Turn north (left) on Adams and then west (left) on Clark Street (Highway 75). Follow Clark to Highway 26. Turn north (right) on Highway 26 and follow it to the intersection of Highway 20.

 

DAKOTA/ROCK CITY/DAVIS
(20 miles, 30 minutes)

Drive west on Highway 20 from the Visitors Center. Take the Illinois Route 75 exit and turn north (right). Route 75 skirts the village of Dakota. If you are interested in exploring small towns, turn west (left) on Main Street. If you (or the kids) need to stretch your legs, stop at Dakota Park with its playground or take a walk on the adjacent Dakota Nature Trail, or enjoy a great lunch at the Tribal Cafe.After your break, return to Highway 75 and continue northeast about 3 miles on Route 75 to Rock City. The highway winds through farmland and is bordered by bright red and yellow foliage.

Rock City is a small rural town with a population of about 300. Continue on Highway 75 to Main Street. Notice Rock City’s once bustling railroad depot at the corner of Main Street. Turn north (left) on to Main Street. Explore Shirts By Mom for gourmet foods, coffees and teas, gifts and unique painted and appliqued sportswear. Proceed on Main Street to Jefferson. Turn west (left) on Jefferson and make a stop at Rock Run Peddler, a quaint cottage filled with a unique gathering of primitives, folk art, florals and garden decor. Turn north (right) on Jackson to the Rock City Park, another pleasant picnic and playground stop. Return to Main Street and backtrack to Route 75. Turn east (left) on Route 75 to Eggert Road. Turn south (right) on Eggert Road to The Empty Attic offering a quirky mix of old and new. Return to Route 75, turn east (right) to Davis, which is about three miles east of Rock City.

The road between Rock City and Davis is nestled between an incline for an old railroad track and wooded areas. The drive features foliage as well as trestle railroad bridges that span various arms of the Rock Run River.

At Davis, turn north (left) on Davis Road to McKimmey Street. Turn west (left) on McKimmey to the Evangeline Forest Walking Trail for a 7/10 of a mile nature stroll. Return to Illinois Route 75 and make a stop at Country Cheese to purchase one or more of the over 40 varieties of cheese on sale direct from the factory. The store also offers deli meats, sausage, sandwiches and more. If you continue east on Illinois Route 75, in about five miles you will enter Winnebago County. For more information about Winnebago County, call the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-800-521-0849.

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