Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Grafton, IL

  • Published 2022/10/07

Located near the Mississippi River, the second-largest river in the USA, and the Illinois River meet, Grafton boasts scenic landscapes and wonderful riverside attractions.

Try exciting outdoor activities or have an alfresco meal in a riverfront restaurant.

Whatever you decide, you can always look towards the majestic rivers for amazing views.

For activities to add to your bucket list, read on for the best things to do in Grafton, Illinois.

Immerse Yourself in Nature in Pere Marquette State Park

A woman overlooking the colorful autumn trees in Pere Marquette state park.

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Pere Marquette State Park is where you’ll find all sorts of outdoor adventures all in one place, offering 8,050 acres of natural sceneries.

Follow the hiking trail and immerse yourself in nature.

For a thrill, grab your bike and traverse its diverse landscapes.

If you want to explore with your favorite horse, there are equestrian trails, too.

The rocky landscapes here are perfect for experienced rock climbers, too.

There’s also a large public hunting area, about 2,000 acres, which is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including squirrel, deer, turkey, and more.

Autumn colored trees with the leaves falling along the way of Pere Marquette state park.

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Just make sure to follow the statewide regulations for hunting.

Visit the numerous picnic spots throughout the area and have a snack while enjoying the beautiful views.

Here, you can also find around 230 species of birds, including the national bird, the bald eagle.

Its waters also host marine wildlife, and you can bring a boat and spend a lovely afternoon fishing on the rivers.

To really delve into the great outdoors, bring your tent and other equipment and set up camp in the designated areas.

Leaves covered ground from the orange trees.

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Shop, Eat, and Explore the Water Activities at Grafton Harbor

Given Grafton’s location, it’s no wonder that Grafton Harbor is a lively, popular attraction in the city.

Go on the Hakuna Matata cruise, with enough space for 49 passengers, and explore the two great rivers that intersect here.

Head to the upper deck to enjoy a cool breeze and overlooking, panoramic views.

Grab a drink at the Tiki Bar for refreshments.

If you want to have a party, it’s open for events, too.

If you prefer a more private tour, you can rent boats here and discover the sceneries with your best pals.

You can even bring your own boat and park here for a fee, and they have lots of amenities to make your stay more convenient and comfortable.

If you want to take something home for your loved ones, their Marina Store is packed with giftable items.

You can also buy boating accessories and parts here.

That’s not all: the harbor features a winery on the river, the Grafton Harbor Floating Water, where you can taste all sorts of unique, delicious wines, including chocolate wine and iced coffee wine.

There are bars here too, and the harbor occasionally hosts live music performances and festivals.

So, make sure to check this place out from top to bottom.

If you want to be prepared before you visit, you can check out their website for more details.

Slide Down the Towering Slide at Raging Rivers

For a thrilling experience and amazing views, try out the wild rides at Raging Rivers, a large waterpark situated right beside the Mississippi River.

Slide down the 500-foot Cascade Body Flumes and feel the breeze as you encounter twists and turns.

Try not to get dizzy as you go in circles down the Swirlpool.

If you’re feeling courageous and want to brave the waves, head to the Breaker Beach Wave Pool.

You and the kids will surely have a blast at Treehouse Harbor, with a huge bucket that pours down about 1,000 gallons of water.

If you just want to chill, however, you can reserve a cabana close to the river and watch life on the river.

The cabana even comes with full service, seating and lounge chairs, and an unlimited supply of drinking water.

You can rent out the place for special occasions as well.

Make sure to check out their website for more information.

Go on a Wine Tasting Tour at Grafton Winery and Brewhaus

Taste the delectable wines at Grafton Winery and Brewhaus, which has vineyards that grow Vignoles, Vidal, and Chardonel grapes.

Enjoy views of the wonderful wine country setting along with their wine.

Moreover, their menu offers many delicious choices, from soups and salads to burgers and entrees.

It’s also a great place for events, such as weddings, with a 5,000-square-foot covered pavilion offering overlooking views of their lake.

They host lots of events throughout the year, and you can check out their events schedule on their website.

Mark your calendar for two of their popular events – the Blues Festival and the Harvest Festival.

You can also visit their shop for goodies and gift cards.

Watch American Bald Eagles from the Grafton Visitors Center

Have a pleasant afternoon at the Grafton Visitor Center, where you can see where the Mississippi River and the Illinois River meet.

Aside from the views, it is a fantastic place to observe the American bald eagle from.

Bring some snacks and hang out at the picnic area with the whole family.

Inside the building, you’ll also find historical artifacts and artworks.

And, if you want more information on the city, its attractions, and more, its staff are more than happy to help.

You can also just grab one of the maps and brochures.

Eat Delicious Food and Listen to Live Music at The Loading Dock

The Loading Dock is a spacious entertainment area offering various activities and great river views.

Order some of its scrumptious fare and chill while listening to live music.

Bring your skates or rent one here and float along the ice at the large ice rink.

Shop for all kinds of goods at the Grafton Riverside Flea Market.

You’ll find over 50 dealers with their own products and wares, including antiques, crafts, and collectibles.

It’s located in The Boatworks, a large venue perfect for events such as weddings.

Another venue, The Tent, makes for a wonderful place for open-air events.

There are events held here periodically too, and you can see the schedule and find more information on the area on its website.

Discover the Activities at Aerie’s Resort

Aerie’s Resort has all you need, offering exciting activities, a relaxing setting, and gorgeous views.

Head to the Grafton Skytour, the on-site lift, and feel the cool breeze as you enjoy an aerial view of the whole resort.

For a more adrenaline-pumping activity, try the Grafton Zipline, where you’ll go on a treetop adventure hopping from bluff to bluff.

You’ll have overlooking views of the rivers as you soar down from the trees.

After your escapades, you can order a hearty meal and pair it with one of the tasty wines from their winery.

Sing along to the live music performances while enjoying your drink in the beer garden.

If you’re bringing the whole family, you can spend your time at the kid-friendly patio.

If you’re planning an event, The Terrace is the place to be, with a 4,400-square-foot outdoor deck offering 360-degree views of the surrounding area.

Additionally, it features various luxurious accommodations, ranging from a terrace room to a spacious lodge

For a more convenient stay, you can book a night here.

Look around for Locally Sourced Products at the Hideaway Farms Market

Shop around for local produce in Hideaway Farms Market.

Spice up your meal with some hot sauces.

Improve your breakfast meals with jams and preserves.

Get some décor to adorn your lawn and the interior of your house.

It’s also full of giftable items, perfect for special occasions.

A lot of the items here are unique, as they are hand-crafted and locally sourced.

Pick Fresh Fruits at Eckert’s Farm

Want to experience a peaceful countryside setting?

Head to Eckert’s Farm, where you can pick fruits and watch the day-to-day activities on a farm.

If you ever get hungry during the day, you can grab a snack at their concessions stand.

For fresh produce, check out their market, with jams and jellies, baked goods, ciders, and more.

Check out their website for more information on events and opening schedules.

Buy Home Décor from Lady LaMarsh Gallery and Gifts

Observe the various artworks in Lady LaMarsh Gallery and Gifts.

There are paintings, sculptures, and more.

Decorate your room with hand-crafted items made from natural materials.

Get a piece of well-made jewelry for your loved ones.

Make your mealtimes more pleasant with their unique dishware.

Adorn your front yard with their many lawn ornaments.

Observe the Artworks during the Grafton Art in the Park Festival

Join the festivities in the city during the Grafton Art in the Park festival.

Explore the diverse art displays, with some made of glass and more.

Observe the thought-provoking paintings or photography.

Check out the well-made jewelry.

You can also participate in the art activities great for some wholesome bonding with the family.

You can watch the demonstrations as well.

Enjoy all these while eating delicious snacks and listening to live music.

Bring Home Some Fish from Beasley Fish

If you’re looking for freshly caught fish, drive down to Beasley Fish, with river fish all year round.

Also, they grow their own fish on their fish farm.

Just make sure to bring your own cooler if you want to pick up fresh fish.

Aside from selling fish, it’s also a great place to dine, offering a wide variety of fried fish and more.

You can also get sides along with your meal.

Their food is fresh as well, as the fish are caught and prepared all on the same day.

To add to that, they don’t use any preservatives.

Take a Look at the Woodworks at Knotty By Nature

Bring a rustic feel to your home by taking home some of the woodcrafts from Knotty By Nature.

It’s a woodshop with all sorts of décor, furniture, and more.

Check out their long, hand-made tables, perfect additions to your dining area.

They have a wide selection of cutting boards too, each with its own design.

Most of the pieces on display are made by veterans and cancer survivors.

If you want to get your hands busy, you can also purchase materials to make your own beautiful piece.

Get Your Significant Other a Present from Harrison’s Gifts

Look around Harrison’s Gifts for quirky finds to beautify your home with.

It’s also a great place to explore, as it is a beautiful, expansive Victorian house offering 3,000 square feet of space filled with unique items.

Check out their many giftable items.

Get a piece of jewelry for your significant other.

Look for that perfect piece of furniture for your home.

You can also shop around for clothing, and there are even costumes for the kids.

Make sure to visit if you’re looking for holiday gifts, as there’s even a whole section dedicated to holiday items.

Order a Custom-Made Clock at The Wood Artisan

Founded by Karl and Pam Pox, The Wood Artisan is a clock-making shop established in 2004.

As you enter, you’ll be greeted with tons of clocks of different shapes and designs.

It’s also an authorized dealer of Kit-Cat Clocks, cute, cat-shaped clocks that have been around since 1932.

If there’s a particular design you want, you can order a custom-made clock.

If you have an old clock that you want to bring back to life, they do restorations as well, or you can also order clock parts and try to fix them yourself.

They can cater to music lovers, too, offering beautiful wooden musical instruments.

Bring a rustic feel to your bedroom with a wooden wardrobe, or bring them your old furniture for a repair.

Visit their website for more information on their products and services.

Watch the Sunset at River View Guest House

Every accommodation at the family-run resort River Outlook Guest House has a breathtaking view.

You can enjoy the magnificent sun from the huge terraces that encircle the building as you drink your coffee or a couple of glasses of wine.

A big backyard that is provided with picnic areas, barbecues, and a fireplace is perfect for a get-together with family and friends.

Delight yourself on vacation in one of the six uniquely furnished suites, each with a queen-sized sleeping sofa in the living room area, a modest kitchenette, full bathrooms, and a bedroom.

The conveniently positioned Lounge is ideal for relaxing while waiting for friends or relatives.

An information desk for nearby attractions is also included.

Ride a Horse at Pere Marquette Stables

Public access to Pere Marquette Stables is available from Wednesday through Monday, from May through October.

For your riding experience, they have established an excellent collection of horses over the past 20 years.

They keep a close eye on the caliber of the excursions they represent.

On a 45–50 minute ride around the park’s approximately 2 miles of gorgeous paths, take in the pure air, the natural scenery, and the unique wildlife.

Whether a local or visiting the region, you will have a fantastic time at Pere Marquette Stables, thanks to their knowledgeable staff and breathtaking surroundings.

Additionally, they arrange horse and pony rides for various events, including birthday parties, family get-togethers, and school functions.

Try Famous Cocktails at the Bloody Bucket Saloon

During the American Civil War, a guy named C.B. Eaton showed up in the Grafton area.

He constructed their exclusive name.

The excellent business is The Bloody Bucket Saloon, initially called The River House.

From Friday through Sunday, live music is available.

Local bands performing in various genres, such as Southern Rock, Blues, and Country, make up the entertainment schedule.

Their distinctive cocktail menu includes their legendary Bloody Marys, Old Fashioneds, Mom’s Bourbon Slush, and other drinks.

Spend Your Weekend Getaway at the Ruebel Hotel

The Ruebel Hotel is the only remaining hotel from the bygone era spotted on the Grafton, Illinois, alleys.

The two structures that have stood on the site—the historic Michael Ruebel and its newly constructed successor—have jointly experienced more than a century of change in the little Illinois town.

The Ruebel Hotel offers a range of accommodations, including Standard Rooms, Jacuzzi Suites, Private Balcony Suites, and more. It also boasts several historic architectural stained-glass windows.

The features of Emerald soft pillow top beds, flat-screen TVs, built-in hairdryers, wireless Internet, and complete satellite service are available in every room.

Enjoy your vacation stay at the unique and riched-history Ruebel Hotel.

Have a Healthful Meal at Grafton Pub

Grafton Pub’s objective is to improve, produce, and enjoy fantastic cuisine and people.

They fill their kitchen using quality ingredients to provide you with the tastiest and fresh cuisine possible.

Daily meal and drink promotions are available at Grafton Pub.

Sandwiches come with lettuce, pickles, onions, and either slaw or french fries, while the kids’ menu comes with either french fries or applesauce.

Pizza is available every day on Sunday, Thursday, and Friday from 6 p.m. until closing time on Saturday.

Eat a filling, tasty, and healthful dinner at Grafton Pub.

Final Thoughts

Grafton’s amazing location, between two great rivers, makes it an ideal place for water adventures and activities by the river.

There’s much to explore here, and you’re sure to always have majestic views.

For a fantastic trip, check out the best things to do in Grafton, Illinois, listed above.

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