Summer fun in the great outdoors awaits at Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois, just under two hours from Chicago. The park is home to 13 miles of hiking trails, fishing in the Illinois River, and plenty of scenic spots to picnic.
After a hike, the river provides much-needed refreshment. Jet skis, speed boats, and pontoon boats are all available for rental, as are kayaks and canoes. Sunset cruises aboard the Belle of the Rock, an old-fashioned paddleboat, are a great way to wind down in the evenings.
The Starved Rock Lodge and Convention Center, the only hotel within the park, can be a destination in itself. Hotel guestrooms and individual cabins are available, as is on-site dining, an indoor pool, and a full-fledged visitor’s center with interactive displays about the park. Guided tours of the park, a walking club, murder mystery shows, and evenings with live music are among the events offered. Plus, the lodge also leads sightseeing tours aboard trolleys lovingly named Ranger and Rita.
Alternatively, houseboat rentals are available from Starved Rock Adventures, and sleep eight to 12 people. The park also has 133 campsites, equipped with electricity, showers, and flush toilets.
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