With a 30-minute drive from downtown St. Louis along the Great River Road, you will discover the historical city of Waterloo in Monroe County, Illinois. Surrounded by rich farmland of the American Bottom, this city features tree-lined streets with a hundred-year-old buildings, antique shops, nature parks and unique cafes and restaurants. Waterloo city got its name when an Irishman, Charles Carroll, built his house on one side of the local creek - which divided the Peterstown to the north and Bellefontaine to the south - and his barn on the other side. The legend says that this settled the intense rivalry between the two communities and now eventually produced historic landmarks namely Bellefontaine House and Peterstown House. A certified heritage community and a fascinating travel spot, Waterloo definitely deserves to be included on your itinerary.
1. Feel close to nature in Konarcik Park
Konarcik Park is one of the nature parks maintained by the Waterloo Park District located at Konarcik Road (Fourth Street) east of Waterloo. It is an ideal recreational theme park with a short walking trail, a ball field, two sand volleyball courts, soccer fields and modern playground equipment. In 2015, an 18 hole Disc Golf course has been added and become a popular feature especially for golf players. With its lake and covered pavilions, you can bring your whole family to picnic and try catching some fish. But be sure you have a valid fishing license before throwing your fishing hook.
Address: 316 N Library St, Waterloo, IL 62298, USA
Website: Konarcik Park
2. Catch a local performance at Capitol Theatre
This former movie house serves as home to an active Community Theatre - Monroe Actors Stage Company (MASC). Operating as a legitimate playhouse, the community members of MASC rented the theater, tore down the movie screen and enlarged the stage. They have already produced over 80 full length plays and musicals and still create 5 shows a year with the purpose of entertaining and bringing satisfying live theatre productions to the residents.
Historic Capitol Theatre
Address: Waterloo, IL 62298, USA
Website: Historic Capitol Theatre
3. Spend a lazy afternoon at Schorr Lake Vineyards
Take an afternoon leisure trip on this family owned winery which is sitting up on a hill, overlooking the large Schorr Lake through oak trees. Officially began in 1994, this vineyard has a total of 16 varieties of grapes and blackberries welcoming all the visitors to try their hands at picking these fruits or you can try wine making, bottling or any other activities offered. They have large picnic tables and an assortment of smaller metal tables for those who want to bring their picnic baskets and food. But the most fulfilling thing someone could experience in this vineyard is to taste their wine samples while relaxing in a comfortable and calm, friendly atmosphere.
Schorr Lake Vineyards
Address: 1032 S Library St, Waterloo, IL 62298, USA
Website: Schorr Lake Vineyards
4. Appreciate the vibrant history of Peterstown and Bellefontaine House
Waterloo offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience history through these two incredible ancient landmarks. Peterstown House and Bellefontaine House are legacies. Dated back to the 1800s, Peterstown was originally used as a general store, tavern, and inn for stagecoach travelers on the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail. And in 1781-1782, Bellefontaine was one of the first settlements made by Americans in what is now Illinois.
Peterstown and Bellefontaine House
Address: N Main St, Waterloo, IL 62298, USA/700 S Church St; Waterloo, Illinois 62298, USA
Website: Peterstown and Bellefontaine House
5. Trail down the wild cave of Illinois Caverns State Natural Area
Having the main attraction which is the unimproved wild Mammoth cave, Illinois Caverns holds the second-largest cave and has the distinction of being the only one that has been operated commercially in Illinois. It contains an extensive array of spectacular cave formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, rimstone dams, flowstone, and soda straws and an underground stream. This cave is a recommended must-stop adventure when visiting Waterloo.
Illinois Caverns State Natural Area
Address: 4369 Waterloo Rd, Waterloo, IL 62298, USA
Website: Illinois Caverns State Natural Area
6. Grab a cup of coffee at Bean Tree Café
If you just want a good breakfast or a good meal in general, look no further and head straight at Bean Tree Café. This cafe and restaurant is highly recommended by both locals and foreign visitors for so many reasons. For breakfast, try their stuffed French toast - which is one of the best things on their menu - and order a cup of roasted coffee to satisfy your morning appetite. With a superb variation of menu and excellent service, this place is a perfect addition to the downtown Waterloo district.
Bean Tree Café
Address: 219 S Main St, Waterloo, IL 62298, USA
Website: Bean Tree Café
7. Play and swing at Acorns Golf Links
This premiere public golf course is a perfect spot for all the golf aficionados out there. With a challenging design, Acorns Golf Links is built to test your game and to give you the quality time you need with your good friends. Take a break and get away from your daily life by playing and swinging your arms at Acorns Golf Links.
Acorns Golf Links
Address: 3933 Ahne Rd, Waterloo, IL 62298, USA
Website: Acorns Golf Links
8. Learn about Eugene’s life at Field House Museum
Known as the “Children’s Poet” and the “Father of the Personal Newspaper Column”, Eugene Field spent his childhood in this National Historic Landmark and a treasure to the St. Louis community. The Field House Museum is now considered as a museum and a testimonial in honor of Eugene and his family and how they lived their lives within its walls. Some of the featured exhibits are artifacts from Eugene’s personal collections at “Sabine Farm”, his Chicago home.
Field House Museum
Website: Field House Museum
9. Shop for gifts at Mill Street Treasure
For local gifts and souvenirs, Mill Street Treasure is a hot spot for all the shoppers in Waterloo. This shop has a wide variety of choices of gifts and gift-giving ideas and offers customers everything from home decor and accents, candles, jellies and jams, shoes, and salsas up to jewelries and antiques. Don’t forget to drop by this treasure shop before calling it a day.
Mill Street Treasure
Address: 125 W Mill St, Waterloo, IL 62298, USA
Website: Mill Street Treasure
10. Take a peek at the Kueker Collection at History Museum
A treasure trove of historic and archaeological artifacts, History Museum represents a broad span of eras and interests anchored by the extensive and famed “Kueker Collection”. It’s a set of Old West exhibits and a symbol of a story on how that collection produced a full-scale museum and has earned Edd Kueker - the man behind some of the sponsored articles and donations - statewide accolades. So take a peek at this wide variety of displays and collections wherein history serves as the launch pad for the future!
Address: Waterloo, IL 62298, USA
Website: History Museum
Step back and catch a glimpse of their history
It is definitely satisfying to spend time not just on the facade of a beautiful new place, but also to learn its history as well. Waterloo has it both: the beauty and the history. So travelers around the globe, be sure to add this amazing community to your must-visit list.
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