Grafton, IL

What is there to do in Grafton, Illinois?

Heather Raulerson

Grafton is a small town along the Great River Road located near the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. It faced significant odds with the flood of 1993 and all of its destructions. But, Grafton is a resilient river town. This little town offers big things to offer people looking to get out of the St. Louis area who want good food, great wine, and enjoy nature. Here are some things to do in Grafton, Illinois.

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Grafton LighthouseHeather Raulerson

Grafton Sky Tour

You can ride to the top of the river bluff on an enclosed gondola or an open-air chair lift while enjoying a soaring, 300 foot high, scenic, leisurely ride to Aerie's Resort. There are 60 open chair lifts and 12 gondolas for you to choose from. The Grafton Sky Tour overlooks the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and gives you a breathtaking and relaxing way to enjoy the spectacular beauty of the midwest. Tickets are $10 per person for a round trip pass, and you can get one at the SkyTour Office located at 3 W. Clinton Street in Grafton.

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Grafton Sky TourHeather Raulerson

Aerie’s Winery

More than 40 varieties of wine are made in Grafton from locally grown grapes, apples, and even peaches. And one of the most scenic places to taste some of them is at Aerie’s Winery. To get to Aerie’s Winery, you can ride on the Grafton Sky Tour; however, if you would rather drive to the Winery from Main Street in downtown Grafton turn right at Mulberry Street and head up the hill. Once there, you can sip a glass of wine (try their Aerie’s Private Label series) while drinking in the views from 300 feet high while experiencing the spectacular scenery while dining "al fresco" on the expansive deck or within the climate-controlled comfort of the dining room. Or, if you want to enjoy some live entertainment, head downstairs to the covered beer garden. Whichever location you decide, you will have an incredible view from on top of the bluff at Aerie’s Resort.

Grafton Zipline Adventures

Explore the tree canopy on the river bluffs at the Grafton Zipline Adventures. The Grafton Zipline offers a thrilling treetop canopy adventure with seven zip lines; two suspended rope bridges, small hiking trails and a surprise ending. Combine the view, go from bluff to bluff, travelling at a max speed of 35 mph to get a one of a kind experience. A maximum of 10 people is allowed on each tour (smaller groups may be combined to fill spots). It takes approximately 2 to 2.5 hours to complete the tour. Start your adventure at 14 West Main Street in downtown Grafton, across from Grove Memorial Park.

Grafton Winery & Brewhaus

The Grafton Winery & Brewhaus is nestled among the river bluffs and offers great outdoor seating for you to get a great view of the river. They make their award-winning wines and brews on-site from a combination of California and locally grown grapes and fruits. Grafton Winery makes more than 15 wines under its label. And you can stop in to enjoy a nice dinner of soup, salads, sandwiches, burgers, or pasta dishes (make sure to try the delicious salmon) while you are exploring this lovely small town.

The Loading Dock

It is considered one of the St. Louis region's best outdoor bar and grills; it has the best scenic view at the end of the best scenic drive. You can sit beside the Mississippi River and enjoy a drink and Dock Salsa and watch the river roll by while listening to live entertainment. This is the place to eat when you want a catfish fritter, fish tacos, oysters, or a shrimp salad. Be sure to stop by the fourth weekend of the month during the summer for the Riverside Flea Market featuring over 60 local vendors.

Grafton Historic District

The Grafton Historic District is a 6-acre historic district in Grafton, Illinois and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The district includes two blocks of Main Street and a section of Maple Street connecting to Grafton's historic harbor on the Mississippi River. The houses in the district were built from 1836 to 1925. The Grafton Ice House is the lone commercial building in the district; built circa 1840; it is the only surviving building from Grafton's ice industry, which sold and stored frozen water from the river. You can also walk the streets the outlaw Jesse James reportedly wandered. Jesse James and his gang reportedly spent time at The River House Hotel, or “Bloody Bucket” as it was later known. Built in 1863 during the Civil War, the infamous saloon was the hideout for corrupt outlaws like Jesse James. The Bloody Bucket Saloon is located at 201 East Main Street in Grafton, and the legend goes that for minor infractions, they’d lop off your ear and throw it in the bloody bucket. And for worse infractions, you might find yourself in the river. When visiting the Bloody Bucket, you can even see money on the ceiling. When people would come in, if they liked the place, they’d put quarters and a thumbtack in a dollar and throw it on the ceiling. So much history can be found in Grafton, Illinois.

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