Posted by: justnaturallyme | August 30, 2013

Awesome Alton


Dessert at Gentlin’s. You can see why choices are hard here.

Travel Media Showcase’s post trips are always hard to choose between. This year was no exception. I picked Alton primarily for its Lincoln connections and its haunted history. I got so much more than I bargained for when I discovered Alton. Oh, yeah, I expected to find traces of Lincoln there and a ghost tour.

I didn’t expect the caliber of the restaurants we dined at. The food there rivals any town its size and probably most larger ones. There is Bossanova Restaurant and Lounge where we had appetizers and drinks. Everything was so good we all pigged out. So we weren’t hungry when we arrived at Gentelin’s on Broadway. Their scrumptious dishes made us dig in and enjoy anyway.


Fresh Peach Pie at My Just Desserts

The lunch on Saturday combines a Lincoln connection with top of the line food topped off with over the top desserts at My Just Desserts. It was all wrapped up in a quilt museum style. By then we were all convinced it could not get any better. Well, dinner that night at Castelli’s equaled our earlier culinary adventures.

Lunch on Sunday was upriver river in Grafton. The Mississippi Half Step kept right in step with all the other restaurants we had sampled.

Reluctantly I had to leave to catch my plane back to reality and cooking my own food. However my last memories of Alton/Grafton were the luscious peaches and huge blackberries at Eckert’s Orchard topped off with a wine tasting at Grafton Winery and Brewhaus.(More about that on the October issue of )


Stature of Lincoln at the site of famous debate. Douglas is just to the left.

With all this talk of food, you may think Alton is just one big buffet. Not so. we experienced so much more. Just to show how unusual Alton is, here are ten unique things about Alton I bet you didn’t know.

  1. Home of the world’s tallest man.
  2. Place where Lewis and Clark camped before they began the search for the Northwest Passage
  3. Location where Lincoln fought a duel
  4. Site of the final Lincoln Douglas Debate
  5. Home of the first man killed over the Slave State/Free State issue
  6. Named one of the most haunted small towns in America by “Fate Magazine”
  7. Located on the only stretch of the Mississippi River that flows West to East
  8. Has one of the largest lock and dams on the Mississippi River
  9. The Navy’s first flying ace, Butch O’Hare, for whom Chicago’s airport is named, attended Western Military Academy in Alton
  10. Paul Tibbits, the pilot of the Enola Gay that dropped the first atomic bomb in Hiroshima, was a schoolmate of Butch O’Hare at Western Military Academy in Alton.

During the two days I spent in Alton, I got to visit places that had connections with all of the above facts. The Alton Museum of History and Art is a wonderful starting point for an overview of Alton. There is a lot of information about Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man. His life sized stature is just across the street. You can pose next to him or perch in his giant chair.

Alton_Spriit_of_Discovery_Replica_Lewis_ Clark_Lewis's_ dog_Seaman_sm

Replica of Spirit of Discovery showing Lewis and Clark and Lewis’ dog, Seaman.

During the winter of 1803-04, Lewis and Clark spent their time at Camp Dubois on the east bank of the Mississippi preparing for the search for a northwest passage. The museum and confluence towers are a place you will want to explore thoroughly. For history buffs, there is so much more. Lincoln’s sites, the Confederate Jail and Eliza Lovejoy’s home and tomb will enthrall you. So much dark history combined with strange geological phenomena tend to draw restless spirits so ghost hunters will have a field day in Alton. (Check out the October issue of for an interesting article on that subject.)

If nature and the great outdoors is your bag, Alton is for you, also. Nearby, the Missouri River flows into the Mississippi and at Grafton, just upriver, the Illinois River also joins with the Mississippi. It’s a natural birding corridor, especially during the fall and winter. Not surprisingly there is a wonderful Audubon Center located in Alton with state of the art telescopes focused on the birding area around the river. You might see a trumpeter swan or an eagle. Even when the birds are not migrating, the center had lots of interesting exhibits about the birds who live and fly over this area. For more wildlife, Pere Marquette State Park is just upriver near Grafton. There is a super bike trail along the Great River Road . If you follow the River road, you get a few more treats. Of course, the scenery is breathtaking. There is the painting of the Piasa Bird on the side of a bluff. Don’t miss the tiny village of Elisah between Alton and Grafton.


Great River Road between Grafton and Alton

The Mississippi is an unpredictable force so man had made giant strides in taming Old Man River. The Melvin Price Lock and Dam is one such effort. Here you can watch a tugboat push a a group of barges thorough the lock. Inside the National Great Rivers Museum, part of the dam project, you can even simulate doing this yourself. You can also learn much about the river and man’s attempts to harness it.

If you are wondering why I am not giving you more detail about all the places that is because they will be featured on in upcoming issues so do go subscribe there.



  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful time…

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