Madison County - 30 Attractions You Must Visit
About Madison County
Madison County, Illinois is located just to the northeast of St. Louis in the southern part of the state. The county has a population of over 270,000 people, making it the fourth most populous county in Illinois. Madison County is home to numerous streams, lakes and parks that provide visitors with a wide range of outdoor recreational activities. It also contains many interesting historical sites as well as numerous museums and educational facilities dedicated to preserving and displaying the un
Types of Attractions in Madison County
List of Attractions in Madison County
1820 Colonel Benjamin Stephenson House
The Colonel Benjamin Stephenson House is an important piece of history that draws many visitors every year. Constructed in 1820, it was originally built as a one-and-a-half-story brick dwelling with a limestone foundation. The house has been restored to its original appearance and was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Visitors can tour the interior of the house, which includes such 19th century artifacts as furniture pieces, books, paintings and more.
Lake/ River/ Ponds
The village of Alton, is a vibrant city full of beauty and opportunity. This picturesque city by the river offers stunning views of the Mississippi that can be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. It's home to Lewis & Clark Community College, the many shops and restaurants of State Street, and numerous historic sites - the Daniel Belle Home being just one example. With its vibrant culture, thriving economy, close proximity to larger cities and incredible history.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is one of the most important archaeological sites in North America. it stands as a testament to the sophisticated civilization that once thrived more than 1,000 years ago. Spanning two and a half square miles, it was the largest pre-Columbian community north of Mexico, boasting an estimated residential population of 20,000 people who engaged in maize cultivation and long distance trade networks.
Camp Dubois is an amazing historical site, tracing its roots back to 1803. This was the start of the Lewis and Clark expedition's journey west of the Mississippi River. Visiting this site gives visitors a unique glimpse into American History at its most formative. The original Camp Dubois consisted of a 126-acre plot of land and included two cabins, several out-buildings, piles of saltpeter and kegs of gunpowder - all left by Lewis and his men as they headed westward.
Drost Park, is a one-of-a-kind spot for outdoor adventurers, daytrippers, and even those looking for a peaceful place to relax. Stretching along the southwestern banks of Silver Lake, there is no shortage of amazing things to do in this pristine park. Drost Park has four main trails that offer up incredible views of the lake while providing plenty of opportunities to take a leisurely stroll or an energetic jog. The trails can even be connected to form a unique 2.5 mile long loop around the lake.
Gabaret Island, situated right on the banks of Lake Springfield and popular among anglers and boaters alike. The island, made up of 46 non-contiguous acres, mostly covered by wetlands and marshlands that invite visitors to explore and observe birds and other wildlife. In addition to the lake access, there are a variety of trails that offer excellent opportunities for walking or biking around the island. A large vernal pool, which is home to turtles and frogs during certain times of their year.
Glen Carbon Heritage Museum
The Glen Carbon Heritage Museum is the perfect place for locals and visitors alike to explore the area's rich history. Located in a restored 19th century building, the museum offers many fascinating exhibits including artifacts from Native American settlements, Civil War battle sites, and the region's industrial era. Visitors can get an intimate look at how people lived, worked, and played by seeing everyday items such as tools and clothing.
Lake/ River/ Ponds
Horseshoe Lake is a 287-acre lake with numerous recreational activities. It is a manmade impoundment created for flood control purposes and is managed by the U.S. Army Corps. Fishing, camping, swimming, and boating are all popular activities enjoyed on or around Horseshoe Lake as it boasts a bounty of bass, bluegill, sunfish, and catfish lurking throughout its waters. While enjoying these activities visitors can also take advantage of trails near the lake providing scenic views.
John M Olin Nature Preserve (Nature Institute)
This is a beautiful display of the natural beauty that can be found throughout the region. Home to a variety of plants and animals, the 25-acre nature preserveis provides a place for visitors to explore, walk trails and watch wildlife species in their natural habitat. It also offers educational opportunities like field trips, docent-led hikes, and self-guided exploration. Additionally, it holds special events such as nighttime owl walks, family nights with activities for all ages.
Leclaire Park, is an outdoorsman's paradise. Spanning approximately 800 acres of land and offering a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors, this public park has something for everyone. From camping and hiking trails to a beach on the Mississippi river and picnic facilities situated throughout the park, Leclaire Park provides endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Boating and fishing are also permitted at certain spots within the park.
Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower
Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower perched atop the banks of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. It stands roughly 80 feet tall, adorned with interactive features to honor the riveting Lewis & Clark Expedition of 1804-06. Visitors can explore mobile and electronic ranger stations offering information about wildlife and flora along the expedition's path. The Mahogany Observation Deck allows for spectacular views of both rivers as well as a small-scale map.
The Lewis and Clark historic site, commemorates the starting point of one of America's most iconic expeditions. This is where, in 1804-5, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began an adventure that would take them to the Pacific Ocean for the first time American-led explorers had attempted such a feat. Camp River Dubois served as the Corps of Discovery's departure point from which they planned their mission and stocked up on supplies.
Lewis and Clark State Memorial Park
Lewis and Clark State Memorial Park is located at the county’s southwestern border, visitors to this park can explore approximately 114 acres of pristine natural beauty with majestic oak-hickory woodlands. It is also home to two major attractions – a replica of the portaged birchbark canoe used by Lewis and Clark during their famed expedition to explore the western United States, as well as reenactment programs that recreate life as it was during this period.
Lock Number 27
Man-made Structures- Other
Lock Number 27 was located near the junction of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers in Madison County, Illinois. The lock was essential in providing safe passage for boats and barges in the area while preventing flooding. Through this lock, countless tons of raw materials and goods were transported along these rivers each year. It eventually became one of the most important locks on the river systems and remained actively used until it was decommissioned in 2009 by a large energy company.
Madison County Archival Library
The Madison County Archival Library, is a trove of historic documents and artifacts. It contains an extensive collection of materials relevant to the U.S. history and culture ranging from photographs to business records to maps. There are also resources available dedicated to researching the county's family histories. The library is open Monday through Friday and boasts esteemed staff members with extensive expertise in archival research as well as computers with access to digital archives.
McPike Mansion has a story that is as alluring as its beauty. Built in 1869 for Captain Nathaniel McPike by John Warner of St. Louis, it was initially designed to be a three-story home reflecting the contemporary Victorian style of that period. Initially an impressive limestone structure complete with original flooring, solid oak finishes and ornate detailed carvings, the residence has once served as a private family residence and later as an orphanage during the 1930s.
Melvin Price Lock And Dam
Lake/ River/ Ponds
The Melvin Price Lock and Dam is a powerhouse of activity. Located on the Mississippi River, it serves as a crucial navigation point for boats traveling along the river. It was built in 1938 with the intention of providing better navigation and reducing flooding in the area during flood season. The area surrounding the locks is one of natural beauty as well, featuring two diversely different habitats: bottomland hardwood forest and sand-bottom marshland.
Man-made Structures- Other
Monks Mound, is a massive earthwork structure built by the ancient Mississippian culture around 1050-1150CE. It stands almost ten stories tall and covers 14 acres with four terraces consisting of millions of basketloads of soil. Archaeologists have identified the top terrace as a flat platform likely used for ceremonial gatherings due to evidence of postholes and paved walkways. Monks Mound has been well preserved with minimal damage since it was first constructed.
Mosenthein Island is an unincorporated region known for its many unique attractions and activities. Nature lovers will enjoy the plethora of beautiful areas to explore including the Chain of Lakes, Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park, and Upper Moorman Lake & Nature Preserve. For those seeking a more urban experience, historic downtown shops and eateries are great options. And no visit to Mosenthein Island would be complete without visiting one of its many museums.
National Great Rivers Museum
This is the premier destination for anyone interested in exploring and understanding rivers from a scientific point of view. Through interactive exhibits and educational programs, visitors learn about the major river systems that define America’s landscape, as well as their various ecosystems and wildlife habitats. The museum boasts an impressive array of artifacts, photographs, maps, and hands-on activities to further engage visitors in the rich discoveries that lie within nature’s waterways.