What are some of the best things to do in Grafton, Illinois?
After all, when we think about the city of Grafton in Illinois, what typically comes to mind?
Well for starters, the city of Grafton is considered to be the oldest city in Jersey County of Illinois. It is located right near the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, and is one of the best places to visit.
The city of Grafton, Illinois is also relatively small city. In fact, the entire area of Grafton is estimated to be around 3.71 square miles. But even though it is small, there are still quite a few people who call this place their home. According to the 2019 Census, the population was estimated to be around 640.
Aside from that, the city of Grafton is also known for many things. For instance, in its early years, it was said that outlaw Jesse James and his gang has reportedly spent some time here in this area. In fact, most of this area’s early history resembles the Wild West, as many outlaws would come around the area to hide out in the surrounding hollows and caves.
Besides that however, today Grafton, Illinois has actually transformed itself into being a vibrant destination for many people to come visit.
Visitors who come to this city will find so many interesting places for them to see and explore. Some of the highlights include places like Raging Rivers, Pere Marquette State Park, Aerie’s Winery, Grafton Visitors Center, Grafton Zipline Adventures, and so much more.
Plus, with an abundance of delicious restaurants, fun cafes, beautiful wineries, historic attractions, and awesome things to see or do, visitors who come here will have the time of their lives exploring everything that this city has to offer.
Which is why, if you’re interested in seeing exactly what the city of Grafton, Illinois has to offer, then you are in the right place.
In this post, we’ll be detailing all the best things to do in Grafton, Illinois.
So if you’re ready, lets get started!
- Things To Do In Grafton, Illinois
- 1. Raging Rivers
- 2. Pere Marquette State Park
- 3. Aerie’s Winery
- 4. The Loading Dock
- 5. Grafton Winery The Vineyards
- 6. Grafton Visitors Center
- 7. Grafton Riverside Flea Market
- 8. Grafton Oyster Bar
- 9. Go Eagle Watching
- 10. Eckert’s Grafton Farm
- 11. Grafton Zipline Adventures
- 12. Grafton Pub
- 13. Grafton Harbor
- 14. Ridge Valley Riding Stables
- 15. Day Trip To St. Louis, Missouri
- FAQS About Grafton, Illinois
- Visit Grafton, Illinois
Things To Do In Grafton, Illinois
In no particular order, here are the best things to do in Grafton, Illinois.
1. Raging Rivers
One of the best things to do in Grafton, Illinois is to simply go to a water park where you can have a ton of fun.
Especially during the summer season, it can get quite hot here. Which is why, having something that is able to cool you down is so important. And here in the city of Grafton, Illinois, there is no place better than “Raging Rivers”.
Raging Rivers is the premiere water park here in this city where locals and tourists alike can come and splash around in the cool waters while having fun with their entire family.
For instance, visitors who come here will find that they offer so many amazing things for people to see or do. Some of the highlights here includes stuff like a shark slide, runaway rafts, endless river float, cascade body flumes, treehouse harbor, and so much more.
Plus, depending on when you come throughout the year, visitors will even be treated to a sea lion show. These amazing creatures will put on some of the most spectacular performances you’ll have ever seen.
Aside from that, Raging Rivers also has cabanas which people can rent and relax or hide away from the hot sun. They also have some vendors around the park where they’ll be able to sell some yummy and delicious treats.
With so many things to see or do here, this is one of the best places you can ever visit here in Grafton, Illinois. You and your entire family will have hours of fun enjoying everything that this park has to offer.
2. Pere Marquette State Park
One of the best places to visit if you are wanting to surround yourself with some beautiful scenery and nature is definitely at the “Pere Marquette State Park”.
The Pere Marquette State Park is a huge 8,050-acre state park that is located only minutes away from the city of Grafton, Illinois. It is one of the most popular places to visit as many locals and tourists love to come here for its wide range of recreational activities that they can do here.
For instance, some of the most popular activities include things like hiking around the many trails in the area, biking, boating, camping, horseback riding, hunting, and so much more. Plus, fishing is also popular here as there are a variety of fish like bluegill, carp, catfish, crappie, drum, and more.
Aside from that, many people also love to come to this park to do some bird watching. After all, this is one of the few places where the national bird the “Bald Eagle”, loves to come and hang out. Not only that, but there are more than 230 species of birds that roam around this area as well.
Or if you rather be indoors, there is also a very helpful visitors center on-site which can help give you all the information you can ever want. Here they provide a 3-D map of the park as well as trail maps for people to use. Visitors can learn about the wildlife habitats, local history and geology as well.
Overall, visiting the Pere Marquette State Park is one of the best things to do in Grafton, Illinois. You’ll never know what you might see out here and each and every step will always be a new experience to explore.
3. Aerie’s Winery
Do you love drinking wine?
If so, then one of the most amazing places you can ever visit is one known as “Aerie’s Winery”.
Aerie’s Winery is a beautiful and popular winery located here in the city of Grafton, Illinois. It is one of the best places to visit if you are wanting to have a relaxing and enjoyable time. After all, there is nothing better than sipping on some cold drinks while having some fun.
And here at this winery, they offer so many different things for people to enjoy. For instance, they have an expansive deck or even a climate-controlled comfort of the dining room which people can enjoy drinking some wine.
Plus, if visitors head downstairs to the covered beer garden, they’ll even be able to enjoy some live entertainment, or be able to grab a table under the tent on the kid-friendly patio out in the back. But not just that, the views from this place are absolutely stunning.
As far as wine goes, the Aerie’s Private Label Series, are produced with the help of their friends at many award-winning wineries. All of which compliments the entire experience here at this area. They also have some foods to pair with the drinks like flatbread, small plates, and more.
So at the end of the day, if you love to drink or just want to have a really fun and relaxing time enjoying your day, then this winery is definitely one of the best places to ever visit.
4. The Loading Dock
If you’re looking for some of the best tasting foods you can ever find here in the city of Grafton, Illinois, then look no further.
Known as “The Loading Dock“, they are a popular place to visit where both locals and tourists alike can come and enjoy some really delicious American style dishes for them to enjoy.
In fact, they are so popular that according to Yelp, they are also one of the highest rated restaurants as well as being one of the most reviewed restaurants in the entire region of Grafton, Illinois. Because of this, visitors can definitely expect to have a really good time eating here.
For instance, visitors who come here will find that they offer so many different choices of food for them to choose from. Some of the highlights include dishes like Macho Nacho, Shrimp Salad, Chicken Wrap and Fries, Hot Dogs, Catfish Fritters, and so much more.
Alongside the food, visitors can also find a nice range of alcoholic drinks to enjoy as well. From things like frozen daiquiris to margaritas or even wine and beer can all be enjoyed here. All of which pairs perfectly well with whatever foods that you order.
Best of all is that everything being offered here are all priced really affordably. Which means by eating at this location, you’ll definitely save on a lot of money. And depending on when you come, there will even be some musical and live entertainment available for you to enjoy too.
With so many things being offered here, this is definitely one of the best restaurants you can ever visit here in the city of Grafton, Illinois.
5. Grafton Winery The Vineyards
We mentioned Aerie’s Winery earlier on in this post.
But did you know there is another winery that is equally as good if not better?
Known as “Grafton Winery The Vineyards“, they are a special winery that is located here in the city of Grafton, Illinois and offers visitors a chance to enjoy some of the most delicious wines that they have ever tried.
Visitors who come to this winery will find that it is settled among various orchards and sprawling farmland. With over 11,000 square foot of space, it has ample room for a new wine production facility, comfortable seating, a bar, and even a fireplace.
It is here where visitors can enjoy many delicious wines that are freshly made on-site. For instance, some of the most popular wines include ones like Vignoles, Riverbend Red, Captains Blush, Pinot Gris, Vidal Blanc and so much more.
And for those interested, at the cost of only twenty dollars a person, they’ll even provide tours of their vineyard and production facility, which includes a personalized wine tasting experience.
Aside from that, they also have a 5,000-square foot pavilion with a view of the beautiful new vines that offers space for various things like outdoor seating, wedding receptions, corporate events, team building, family reunions, and class reunions.
Overall, it’s one of the most interesting and exciting places you can ever visit here in the city of Grafton, Illinois. So if you have the time to spare, this is one spot you should definitely visit.
6. Grafton Visitors Center
If you’re ever going to be traveling around to the city of Grafton, Illinois, then one of the first stops you absolutely must visit is one known as the “Grafton Visitors Center”.
The Grafton Visitors Center is the premiere place where visitors and locals and come and learn more about the city of Grafton, Illinois as well as the surrounding areas. It is here where they’ll be able to give you various kinds of recommendations as to things to do or places to visit.
Aside from that, the Grafton Visitors Center is also a very historic place that offers quite a bit of things for people to see or do. For instance, visitors can come and get info on Eagle Watching from the staff or even use the spotting scope to see eagles from right inside the center.
Not only that, but inside the center there are also a few historical and antique items. Such things include a “punt” boat, a model of an early river boat, antique items, old photos, and even a huge gun that was used to hunt ducks many years ago.
Outside of the center, there are a few picnic tables set aside from people to come rest on or even eat their lunch while enjoying the beautiful scenery that surrounds them.
Overall, it’s one of the most important places you can ever visit if you are coming to the city of Grafton, Illinois for your first time. So make sure not to miss it!
7. Grafton Riverside Flea Market
Have you ever shopped at a flea market before?
If not, then you are in for a whole world of surprise.
After all, flea markets are some of the best places to visit if you are wanting to get something for a good deal or even a discount.
And here in the city of Grafton, Illinois, one of the best flea markets you can ever visit is one known as “Grafton Riverside Flea Market“.
Grafton Riverside Flea Market is actually run by the “Loading Dock”, and is one of the region’s largest flea market. It is here where locals and tourists from all around will come and browse through the wares to see if there is anything that they might want to buy.
For instance, visitors who come here will find all types of cool things they might be interested in. Anything from antiques to crafts or collectibles and even clothing and more, the options are literally endless.
The only thing to note however is that the Riverside Flea Market isn’t an everyday occurrence. In fact, this flea market is only held during the fourth Saturday and Sunday of the month between the months of April through October.
So if you are ever visiting the city of Grafton, Illinois between these months, then this is one event you should definitely consider on visiting. You never know, you might just find a treasure you’ll like to bring back home.
8. Grafton Oyster Bar
If you are ever feeling hungry while visiting the city of Grafton, Illinois, then one restaurant you should absolutely visit is one known as the “Grafton Oyster Bar”.
The Grafton Oyster Bar is a popular restaurant to visit as they specialize in serving up delicious seafood and also Cajun/Creole type of dishes for people to enjoy. Many locals and tourist alike all love to come here because of just how good the food really is.
In fact, according to Yelp, they are one of the highest rated restaurants as well as being one of the most reviewed restaurants in the entire region of Grafton, illinois.
Visitors who come here will find no shortages of good food as there are so many to choose from. For instance, some of the most popular dishes to choose from includes things like Blue Crab Cakes, Shrimp Voodoo, Boiled Crawfish, Oysters Cardinale, and so much more.
Plus, they also have a huge alcoholic menu for people to choose from as well. Choose from all kinds of assortment of wines to signature creations or even bottled beers or draught beers, they have it all.
And what’s great about this place is that the staff who works here are all amazingly nice and helpful. They’ll go out of their way to make sure everything is up to par and that your dining experience is as best as it can be.
So if you ever want to eat some truly delicious foods while visiting the city of Grafton, Illinois, then the Grafton Oyster Bar is definitely one of the best restaurants you can ever visit.
9. Go Eagle Watching
Did you know that the city of Grafton, Illinois is a very popular spot to go eagle watching?
In fact, eagle watching is one of the most popular and common activities to do here in this city especially during the winter season.
Mainly because during this time, many local and outside bird-watchers will flock down to this area so that they can keep an eye out for the bald eagles who will come here to stay for around the months of December until mid-February.
These beautiful birds will fly in from the north for the warmer weather and will most commonly soar over the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, while hunting for food in the rivers to even delighting the visitors with their presence.
And the best part about this amazing event is that anyone is able to participate. All you’ll really need to do is to get a set of binoculars and go on a search for these birds. Most commonly enough though they will usually be nesting in the trees along the riverbanks or even sitting along the river.
It’s one of the most fun and exciting things that you can ever do here in the city of Grafton, Illinois. You’ll never know just how many eagles you’ll encounter, and it will definitely be a sight to remember.
10. Eckert’s Grafton Farm
One of the most interesting and unique places you can ever visit here in the city of Grafton, Illinois is one known as the “Eckert’s Grafton Farm”.
Eckert’s Grafton Farm is a popular place to visit because they are the largest family-owned and operated pick-your-own orchard in the entire United States. Locals and tourists from all around love to visit this location to have fun enjoying all that this farm has to offer.
For instance, one of the most popular things to do here is to simply pick out your own fresh foods. Visitors can stroll the fields for a few hours while taking their time to pick the season’s natural bounty of fresh fruit. From apples to peaches or even blueberries and more, they have it all.
Aside from the fruits that you can pick by yourselves, they also have a store on-site which sells some of the freshest foods made on-site for you to enjoy. It is here where visitors can find all kinds of things like apple cider, apple and pumpkin butter, honey, Amish salsas, jellies and more.
And depending on when visitors come to this farm, there will even be all sorts of kid-friendly activities to help keep the young ones happily busy while parents are going around taking pictures for their family memories.
Overall, it’s a really neat place to visit that offers so much in terms of what people can see or do. So if you ever wanted to visit a farm, then this is one place you should absolutely visit.
11. Grafton Zipline Adventures
Earlier on in this post, we mentioned a winery called “Aerie’s Winery”. That winery is located at a place called “Aerie’s Resort”.
And what’s special about “Aerie’s Resort” is that it is home to quite a few things. One of which is ziplining with a company called “Grafton Zipline Adventures“. Which is one of the most popular things to do here in Grafton, Illinois.
Starting in downtown Grafton, across from Grove Memorial Park, visitors are able to soar like a eagle on their family-friendly ziplines. It’s literally one of the best things you can ever see or do here as the view from the top is unlike any other you have ever seen.
For instance, riders who choose to go on this adventure will be able to go from bluff to bluff traveling around at a max speed of 35 miles per hour. During this ride, riders will be able to view the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois River in a unique way that many others will not know.
The entire experience lasts about two and a half hours long to finish the entire tour. Although it can get a little expensive as most of the prices for riders are around seventy dollars and up, but it is totally worth it as the experience is unlike any other you have ever seen.
So if you have a passion for adventure, or just want to do something that is unique and interesting, then going on a zipline ride with Grafton Zipline Adventures, might just be the best thing you’ll ever do.
12. Grafton Pub
One of the best places you can ever visit for some truly delicious food and beer here in the city of Grafton, Illinois is definitely at the “Grafton Pub”.
Grafton Pub is a popular spot to visit as many people will come here to just surround themselves with a friendly environment while also having a ton of fun. Here they have live music, good service, and best of all, delicious food and drinks.
In fact, it’s so popular, according to Yelp they are one of the highest rated places as well as being one of the most reviewed places in the entire region of Grafton, Illinois.
The main attraction here is definitely the food as it is amazingly fresh and tastes absolutely delicious. For instance, some of the highlights include dishes like Fried Pickles, Salads, Catfish Fritters, Fried Green Beans, Burgers, and so much more.
Best of all is that depending on when visitors come visit this pub throughout the year, they will be home to a wide range of events, which includes live music for people to enjoy.
Plus, because the environment is so friendly and fun, it’s also one of the best ways to meet locals and make some friends. Everyone here from the staff to the customers are all amazingly friendly and will definitely make your experience a whole lot better.
So if you are looking for a really amazing place to eat some food while also having some fun, then the Grafton Pub is definitely the spot for you to visit.
13. Grafton Harbor
If you like being around the waters, then one of the best things you are able to see or do here in the city of Grafton, Illinois is to simply go pay a visit to “Grafton Harbor”.
Grafton Harbor is a marina that is situated right along the Mississippi River, and offers visitors with so many things for them to see or do.
For instance, because they are a marina, they have access to a variety of boats which are able to be rented away. By renting a boat, it’ll allow visitors to roam around freely along the river while seeing all the beautiful scenic views that surrounds this area.
Or if you don’t want to rent your own boat, another popular thing that many people enjoy here is to go boat touring around the area. In fact, the main tour that they offer is one called the “Hakuna Matata Cruise”, which takes people along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.
And what’s special about the Hakuna Matata Cruises, is that they have various kinds of cruises set up for different holidays or events. For instance, they have things like a Spring Break Sunset Cruise to a Cinco De Mayo Dinner Cruise or even a Monday’s Day Cruise.
Aside from that, Grafton Harbor is also a place where visitors can come and dock their boats or even get it serviced incase anything goes wrong with their boat.
So if you are ever wanting to traveling out along the waters of the mighty Mississippi or even Illinois Rivers, then this is one spot you should definitely not miss!
14. Ridge Valley Riding Stables
Ever wanted to ride a horse?
If so, then you’re in luck!
Here in the city of Grafton, Illinois, there is a spot where visitors can visit and be able to ride all kinds of horses. Known as the “Ridge Valley Riding Stables“, it is the premiere horse stable that many locals and tourists love to visit.
Originally opened up in 1972, they are a family-owned and oriented stable. Here visitors are able to come and ride some horses onto a trail while exploring around the area. Plus, they even offer pony rides too for those who young ones who like to ride a pony.
And don’t worry if you don’t know how to ride a horse. Because here at this stable, they also teach people how to properly ride a horse like a pro. Lessons come in both half hour or full hour and is the best way to learn as you’ll be taught one on one with a teacher.
Aside from that, the Ridge Valley Riding Stables also has an area where they take care of other peoples horses too. From things like boarding to farrier or even horse transport, they do it all. And if you want, you can even come here to buy and sell horses too!
Overall, the Ridge Valley Riding Stables is basically a horse lovers dream come true. Whether you are here to ride a horse, a pony, or just want to learn how to ride, this is one place everyone should visit.
15. Day Trip To St. Louis, Missouri
Did you know that the city of Grafton, Illinois is actually in close proximity to many other popular towns and cities?
Because of this, one of the best things to do in Grafton, Illinois is to simply go on a day trip to one of these neighboring areas.
And what better place to visit than the nearest major city, which is St. Louis, Missouri.
St. Louis, Missouri is one of the biggest cities in Missouri and is situated only minutes away from the city of Grafton, Illinois. In fact, it takes about only an hour or less to reach it, which is why many people are able to leave in the morning, have fun in the afternoon, and be back by nightfall.
Visitors who come to St. Louis will find that there are simply so many amazing things for them to see or explore. Some of the highlights includes places like Gateway Arch, Old Courthouse, Soulard Farmers Market, Missouri Botanical Garden, Forest Park and so much more.
Plus, with an abundance of delicious restaurants, fun cafes, cute galleries, historic museums, and awesome attractions, visitors will have the time of their lives exploring everything that this city has to offer.
Which is why, if you are ever looking for something to do while visiting the city of Grafton, Illinois, then why not do a day trip to St. Louis, Missouri. I guarantee it’ll be one of the best things you’ll ever do.
FAQS About Grafton, Illinois
The distance between Grafton, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri is about 26.79 miles or about 38 miles if driving by car.
The distance between Grafton, Illinois and Chicago, Illinois is about 251 miles or about 301.7 miles if driving by car.
The Grafton Ferry Fee is about $8 one way or $15 round trip for cars and small trucks, $4 one way for bicycles, and $3 on foot for one way.
The Grafton Ferry is able to carry passengers from Missouri, north of St. Charles, to Grafton, Illinois.
Visit Grafton, Illinois
Overall, If you ever have the time to visit the city of Grafton, you’ll soon find out just how great this city really is. Visitors who come here will find that there are simply so many amazing things for them to see or do.
So hopefully this post about the “15 Best Things To Do In Grafton, Illinois” was able to help you out in some sort of way. This way if you ever find yourself visiting the city of Grafton, Illinois, you will know exactly what things you are able to do for some fun.
Also, if you’re going to be traveling around to the state of Illinois anytime soon, you might be interested in some of my other Illinois related posts:
Or you can check out all my blog posts by clicking this link.
Hope you have a safe and fun trip~