Have you been working tirelessly and thinking of getting away from the city? If you are, Vandalia is just the place for a weekend getaway or a mini-holiday. Here, you can relax and indulge in historical sights, pristine nature, and recreational activities with friendly locals. Vandalia was once the capital city of Illinois until Springfield took over in 1839. It is small, but it is the oldest city in Fayette County, with an estimated population of less than 7,000. The best time to visit is during the summer when it is warm and humid. So, let’s look into some of the top things to do in Vandalia, Illinois.
1. Learn about the city's history at Fayette County Museum
Fayette County Museum is a unique, Gothic-style building that was originally built as a House of Divine Worship. Now it attracts tourists who are fans of rare artefacts from the 18th century. When you visit the museum, you definitely have to check out the amazing 1917 pipe organ that was donated here.
Fayette County Museum
Address: Fayette County Museum 301 W. Main Vandalia, Illinois 62471
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9:30am - 4pm (closed on Sun)
2. Visit the glorious Vandalia State House
This prominent landmark is known as the oldest capitol building in Illinois, with remarkable infrastructure that includes wooden floors, lofty ceilings, and alluring vintage furnishings. Every moment inside this building will remind you of the events that took place during the time of Abraham Lincoln when he began his political career.
Vandalia State House
Address: 315 W. Gallatin Vandalia, Illinois 62471
Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 9am - 5pm; Sat: 9am - 4pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
3. Explore the scenic Vandalia Park District
This is a short, 1-mile (1.6-km) walking trail surrounded by parks, nature, and fresh air. It is said to be the most popular attraction in Vandalia since it is close to Vandalia Swimming Pool. You deserve a cool splash after exercising on the walking trail, so be sure to check this spot out.
Vandalia Park District
Address: 900 N. Locust Street Vandalia, Illinois 62471
Opening hours: Mon: 8am - 8pm; Tue - Fri: 8am - 6pm (closed on Sat & Sun)
4. Meet the fiery Kaskaskia Dragon
This is a dragon made up of metal. It has a 35-ft-long neck and it breathes fire under your command. As exciting as it sounds, a dragon token is required to make it work. Built back in 1995, Kaskaskia Dragon has since attracted many tourists and travellers from around the world.
Address: 2401-2599 Progress W Dr, Vandalia, IL 62471, United States
Website: Kaskaskia Dragon
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
5. Relax at Lincoln Park
For your body and mind to be at ease, you must visit Lincoln Park, a one-of-a-kind spot in Vandalia. It has several attractions, like a sparkly fountain, a gazebo from where you can view the entire park, and a statue of Abraham Lincoln himself. This park was named after the 16th US president, and it actually consists of a full-size bronze statue. It is entitled “Sitting with Lincoln”. If you want to take a photo with him, now is your chance.
Address: 312 W Gallatin St, Vandalia, IL 62471, United States
6. Follow the trail of Illinois Central Railroad River Walk
In 1856, the country’s first and the longest railroad was built, and it was more than 1000 km (600 mi) long. According to its history, the railroad served the military troops and helped transport goods and supplies. By 2011, Illinois Central Railroad River Walk came into existence. This area features a long walking trail along the Kaskaskia River. If you are into nature and want to indulge in some quiet self-reflection, this is the perfect place for a solitary walk.
Illinois Central Railroad River Walk
Address: 416 W. Edwards Street, Vandalia, Illinois (located behind Fayette County Health Department)
7. Tour the old Little Brick House
As the name says, Little Brick House is a historical landmark with European-style architecture. It consists of furnished rooms and Berry-Hall Library, a room that is filled with historical books from state officers and legislators of the state. This house has stood for more than a century and its rooms are filled with memories: there are engravings on the walls and some antiques on display.
Little Brick House
Address: 621 W St Clair St, Vandalia, IL 62471, United States
8. Visit Veterans Educational Museum
The Veterans Educational Museum located in the Crawford-Hale Post #95, 321 S. Seventh Street in Vandalia. Hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until Noon.Posted by National Road Association of Illinois on Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Veterans Educational Museum is a place where you can find military items donated by Vandalia’s own veterans. It was first built as a home for those who have returned home after serving their country. In Vandalia, it is known as the American Legion Home. Since the time of World War I, soldiers have been protecting this country. This place was formed to stress the importance of educating the public about their service. You will also find a memorial and some interesting artefacts inside.
Veterans Educational Museum
Address: 321 S. 7th Street, Vandalia, Illinois
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 12pm (closed on Sat & Sun)
9. Stop by Madonna Of The Trail
During the early 1900s, Madonna of the Trail, a significant monument, was built to represent the spirit of the women of Vandalia. It is one of 12 similar monuments built across other states in America. It is engraved with the words “to the pioneer mothers of the covered wagon days" - a symbol that shows faith, strength, courage, and love. Vandalia proudly presents this statue of a woman wearing a hat and holding a baby while another child clings to her skirt, symbolising a strong mother, sister, and wife.
Madonna Of The Trail
Address: 399 W Gallatin St, Vandalia, IL 62471, United States
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
10. Savour the food at Gallatin Street Grille
After a long and busy day filled with tours and activities, you must treat yourself to the best food that your palate won’t be able to resist. Located on West Gallatin Street, Gallatin Street Grille is one of the best restaurants in Vandalia. A favourite among locals, they serve delicious food. While here, you have to try the ribs, steak, seafood, and house fries from their menu. They also have refreshing drinks, plus a selection of local wine. The food is not very expensive, and they even serve combos like burgers and fries. You can call ahead to make a reservation.
Gallatin Street Grille
Address: 524 W Gallatin St, Vandalia, IL 62471, United States
Website: Gallatin Street Grille
Opening hours: Tue - Thu: 11am - 2pm, 4:30pm - 8:30pm; Fri: 11am - 2pm, 4:30pm - 9pm; Sat: 4:30pm - 9pm (closed on Sun & Mon)
Vandalia awaits you!
Vandalia is just a four-hour drive from Chicago, Illinois, yet you will be able to feel a huge difference in the atmosphere as soon as you arrive. Here, you can indulge in the vibrant green nature surrounding the city. Plus, its rich history and access to fun outdoor activities will surely keep you entertained throughout your stay. This is the place where Abraham Lincoln first started his career, and the place definitely holds a special place in the heart of America’s 16th president. It is the perfect location to study the history of the state and marvel at some historical items from the Great War, along with some outstanding monuments and landmarks.
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