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It’s always good to take a break, create a memory and play together.  Over the years, Harvest has collected a few stops that we try to work in for fun when when we are traveling in ministry.  These unique places around the Midwest are great for student ministry breaks while you’re on a trip and many of them work on a shoestring budget (or no budget at all). If you’re going on a trip with a church group, your family or just have some free time – here are 30 of my favorite driving stops around the Midwest.

 

1. Super Man, Metropolis, IL

A great stop in Illinois’ most southern city, to get out and stretch, see the Superman Statue, take some pictures and hit the road again. The statue is about 3 miles off the interstate. Free to visit and several Harvest Teams have stopped by over the years.

Superman Information

 

2. Smallest Post Office, Muddy, IL

This is a quick drive by stop we make each time we’re at Beulah Camp in Eldorado, IL.  It was the smallest post office in the United States until 2002.  Now the honor of the smallest goes to a small town in Florida. But, the Muddy, IL Post Office is the smallest I’ve ever seen and is worth a drive by if you happen to be on those road in south eastern Illinois.

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3. Patti’s 1880’s Settlement, Grand Rivers, KY

This is a great stop for any student ministry trip or family trip if you want a quick place to stretch, walk around in an old fashioned log cabin village or have lunch.  It doesn’t cost anything to walk around the paths, shops, and gardens.  There is an ice cream shop and mini golf available too.  Harvest has stopped here on numerous occasions.  The food is great too – home of the 2 inch pork chop.  The one time Harvest did have lunch there, a church member purchased the meal for our team – it was a nice surprise!

Patti's Website

 

4. St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis, MO

One of the last “free admission” zoos left in the USA is in St. Louis, MO.  It’s a high quality stop and you can spend hours there if you want to.

Zoo Website

 

5. Moonshine Hamburgers, Martinsville, IL

This is a great little place that could be a day trip destination.  Be sure to get there before 12:30 because they shut off the grill and it’s closed.  There are often over 100 people having lunch inside and outside the small country store in the middle of nowhere.  They’re known for their hamburgers. INFORMATION: 6017 E 300th Rd. Martinsville, Illinois // (618) 569-9200

Moonshine Burgers

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6. Lincoln’s Home, Springfield, IL

If you’re driving through Springfield, take advantage of this completely free stop that is worthwhile!  It’s a tour of Lincoln’s Springfield Home.  You have to stop at get a ticket at the main center, then a tour guide takes a group at a time through the home. some fascinating information.  It’s considered a National Historic Site and operated by the National Park Service.  It’s the only home Lincoln ever owned and Springfield has done a good job of preserved the surrounding buildings so the whole street feels like the 1800’s.

Lincolnl's Home Website

 

7. John Deere Pavillion, Moline, IL

Here’s a great stop that doesn’t cost you a penny – it’s the John Deere Pavillion.  Located in downtown Moline, IL, home of John Deere Company, will impress the country kids and the city slickers.  You can step inside humongous combines and tractors and have fun with some of the simulators and movies they show.  There is a gift shop located across the street and free parking.

Pavillion Website

 

8. Logomarcino’s Old Fashioned Candy Store, Moline, IL

If you are at John Deere Pavillion, it’s worth the quick walk to this neat little old fashioned candy and ice cream shop!

Visit Website

 

9. Opryland Hotel, Nashville, TN

Harvest has stopped and walked through Opryland Hotel on many occasions.  There are 9 acres of indoor gardens, waterfalls, and vegetation.  It’s worth finding a parking place and taking a stroll through this amazing “hotel lobby”.  The nice walking paths make it great for all ages. Our family has stopped by and I’ve taken many student ministry groups and college groups by.

Hotel Website

 

10. Upper Room Chapel, Nashville, TN

One great stop as you are passing through Nashville, TN is the Upper Room Chapel, which is part of the international Upper Room headquarters and hosts thousands of visitors each year. Speakers from different denominations and countries take part in the weekly Wednesday morning worship service. The focal point of The Upper Room Chapel is a nearly life-size woodcarving of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting. The Last Supper, sculpted by Ernest Pellegrini of A. H. Davenport, Irving and Casson of Boston, MA. The woodcarving is an extraordinary work of art, created by fifty people over fourteen months’ time. There is no cost to tour the chapel, but donations are accepted.

Upper Room Info

 

11. Harvest Headquarters, Troy, IL

If you’re on a Midwest trip, going North, South, East or West, there’s a good chance you may happen by Troy, Illinois (Exit #18 Interstates 70 and 55, just outside St. Louis).  If you see the Troy exit, you’re exactly one mile from the Harvest Headquarters located inside Troy United Methodist Church, Troy, IL.  Stop by!  Take a look at the cute little town of Troy, say hello to us, look at the wall of fame (pictures of all the Harvest Summer Teams since 1996), get a tour of the the facilities (Home of Fire-Up Sr. High Conference and roots of the Kids Conference, The Well, Beautiful U and all the other events) and have some coffee.  It would be great to have you stop by – youth groups welcome!

Harvest Website

 

12. Precious Moments, Carthage, MO

It’s been a while since we’ve been here and since I’ve heard much about Precious Moments, but the chapel is impressive and I think it’s still free of charge to see.

Website Info

 

13. Giant City Hiking Trails, Makanda, IL

We often stop and take a hike at the Giant City State Park.  The “tourist” hike takes about 45 minutes, is a simple loop (with a few stairs) and great rock formations.  When you are there you can also take a look at the Giant City Lodge, which is a large, old stone and log lodge with great fried chicken dinners. In the parking lot of the lodge is a water tower with a spiral staircase leading to an observation deck.

More Info

 

14. Old Fashioned Soda Fountain, Louisville, IL

We have spent lots of time at The Potters Shed in Louisville, IL.  Free popcorn, old fashioned soda fountain, great place to relax. This florist / gift shop / soda fountain is located on the square in Louisville, IL.

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15. Pere Marquette State Park, Grafton, IL

Pere Marquettte is located on along the Great River Road, just north of Alton, IL.  It’s not on the way to too many places, but if you’re in the St. Louis area, it’s a great stop for hiking, visiting the massive wooden / stone lodge or having lunch. We typically go there in January to look for eagles on the river.  You will also love the scenic drive to several overlooks along the route to the top of the bluff.

Pere Marquette Info

 

16. Clark Memorial, Vincennes, IN

Harvest has spent a few weeks, over the years, in Vincennes, IN doing ministry events.  One stop that is fun – if you happen to be in that part of the world is the Clark Memorial.  It’s impressive, fun to visit and a great for pictures.

Clark Mem. Info

 

17. Largest Rocking Chair, Casey, IL

If you’re traveling through eastern Illinois on I-70, it’s worth stopping in Casey (pronounced Cae-zee by the locals) to see the, what seems to be, “world’s largest everything”.  The rocking chair is impressive.  Across the street they have the largest wind chime along with a quaint little deli and bakery. You could have lunch or just take pictures and go.  It’s all free.  While you’re at it, take a look at the world’s largest pencil and golf tee, both close to the that same area.  One bank is also in the process of building the ‘world’s largest token.” One thing I love, is that all these things in Casey, IL have a scripture verse on them!

More Info

 

18. Old Illinois Capital, Vandalia, IL

There’s a great historical stop in Vandalia, IL – the old state capitol building. It has the original wood floor upstairs, where Lincoln walked and much more great history.  It doesn’t cost to go in, but you can give a donation. The building was built really quickly in hopes that they would keep the state capitol in Vandaila.  But, as history proves, it was only used for a short while before officially moving to Springfield, IL.  It’s open Wednesday – Sunday.

Historic Capital Info

19. Hannibal, MO

Home of Mark Twain and Huck Finn, this river town is fun to drive through.  Harvest often stops for a stretch break to climb the 200 something steps to the lighthouse.  It’s free and fun.  There are several other things to see and do if you are staying longer.

Hannibal, MO

 

20. Garden of the Gods, Shawneetown, IL

There are several hiking trails around Garden of the God’s, but there is one great, relatively short walking path that will lead to amazing views!  Hardly seems like you’re in Illinois.  We visit Garden of the Gods each time we’re at Beulah Camp in Eldorado, IL. After your hike, you can drive just a few miles, get a soda, and take a look at the historic Shawneetown Bank.

Garden of the Gods Info

 

21. Brown County State Park, Nashville, IN

There’s a great state park just outside of Nashville, IN where you can hike, picnic, and if it’s fall, drive through some of the most beautiful scenery.  It costs a bit to get into this park, but it’s by the car/van load and it’s worth it!

Brown County Park

 

22. Holiday World, Santa Clause, IN

Holiday World is my favorite amusement park.  It’s small, clean, nice, close and you get free drinks all day.  Harvest has been there several times to sing at the park. In addition to the amusement side, they have a world class water park included in the ticket price.  If you’re coming back from a mission trip or vacation, or just want to have a fun weekend, this is a good one.

Holiday World Info

 

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23. Lewis and Clark Memorial, Hartford, IL

Take a stroll through the fort where Lewis and Clark stayed during the winter before their long expedition.  Located in Hartford, IL this is a great museum including an outdoor exhibit.  You can also visit the confluence tower, which overlooks the two rivers.

L&C Historic Site

 

24. Amish Country, Arthur and Arcola, IL

We love to drop by Arthur and Arcola, IL – home of Illinois Amish Community. There’ something relaxing about seeing buggies drive by, see teams of horsing plowing the fields and slower pace of life. While you’re there, you can have a great lunch, stroll downtown, shop at Beechy’s, Bakery’s or any number of other places, and visit the Big Red Barn, which is an indoor flea market sort of place.

Amish Country Info

 

25. Bill Gaither Studios, Alexandria, IN

This is a great stop if you are in Northern Indiana.  You can visit the book store, have lunch, stop for ice cream, and tour the famous Gaither Studios!  Last time Harvest stopped by, we got a picture will Bill Gaither himself. It’s the Southern Gospel mecca.

Gaither Info

 

26. Living History Farms, DeMoines, IA

Awesome place.  Harvest traveled here many years ago and again, most recently, I took our family.  The living history farm is a recreated 1880’s town complete with a church, dentist, blacksmith, homes, stores, hat shop, doctor, printer, etc.  Volunteers and staff dress up and “live” in the town while you visit.  You can also take a wagon ride, then hike through the progress of farming from the Native Americans, to homesteaders, to early 1900’s, and on to modern.  It’s fascinating and educational.

More Information

 

27. Russell Stovers, Lincoln, IL

I don’t know why, but Harvest has probably stopped in Lincoln for gas and chocolate more than any other stop around Illinois. This particular Russell Stovers is generous with samples, has great bathrooms, ice cream, and it’s shares a parking lot with a gas station – so it’s a great stop for a group.

Store Info

 

28. State Capital Building, Springfield, IL

It’s always fun to walk through state capitol buildings.  They are free, impressive, historical and educational.  When you’ve been to a state capital, it feels like you’ve really been to the state.  The last time I was a group in the Illinois State Capitol, one of us had to go through the metal detector about six times, finally ending with a wand search trying to determine what set it off over and over. It was a great memory.

Capital Building Info

 

29. Marcoot Creamery, Greenville, IL

I have known the Marcoot girls for years through Beulah Camp and Harvest Trips. They have turned their family farm into the Marcoot Creamery.  For about $3, you can take a tour and have ice cream!  You can also stop by anytime to watch them make cheese or purchase some.

Creamery Info

 

30. Hardwork U, College of the Ozarks, Branson, MO

My family loved stopping by this school recently!  This college, one of the few in the country where students work their way through – literally – has tons of stuff to see and do including an authentic water powered mill, a tractor museum, an amazing chapel, a lodge, a dairy farm tour, greenhouses, fruitcake factory and beautiful scenery.

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This is my list – for now.  Are there other places you would like to add?  Any of these places you’ve been to?  I’d love to hear your memories and thoughts.

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