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5 Great Day Trip Ideas to Princeton, IL

  • 5 Great Day Trip Ideas for 5 Types of People

    Looking for a short getaway with family or friends? It's easy to spend a day-or even two-in wonderful Princeton. Whatever your interests, you'll find plenty here that may surprise you, and it's an easy drive from Chicago, the Quad Cities, Rockford, Peoria, or points in between!

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  • 1.1 The Garden Enthusiast

    Between April and October, garden lovers by the thousands make it a point to visit Hornbaker Gardens. The Hosta Ravine is a showcase for some of the garden's more than 500 hosta varieties; there's also garden sculpture, pottery, trees and shrubs, annuals and perennials, and garden gifts. It's easy to spend half a day here; while you're shopping, your non-gardening spouse or friend can get in a round of golf at Chapel Hill Golf Course, just down the road.

  • 1.2 The Garden Enthusiast

    Although most backyard gardens in Princeton are private, many homeowners have created some spectacular gardens visible from the street, particularly on Park Avenue (and especially in spring, when flowering trees by the hundreds are in glorious bloom). From time to time, usually in early summer, different organizations will sponsor Garden Walks that provide the opportunity to see beautiful private gardens in and around Princeton.

    Photo by Daniel Acker, Princeton, IL

  • 2.1 The History Buff

    No visit to Princeton is complete without a stop at the Red Covered Bridge, built in 1863 over Big Bureau Creek a mile north of Interstate 80. It is one of only five original covered bridges left standing in Illinois, has been maintained in beautiful condition, and is still open to vehicular traffic.

    Photo by Daniel Acker, Princeton, IL

  • 2.2 The History Buff

    The Bureau County Historical Society is a repository for thousands of historical items, some of which date back long before settlers arrived in this area. The BCHS occupies two historic homes just off the Courthouse Square.

  • 2.3 The History Buff

    You'll also want to visit the historic 1837 Owen Lovejoy Homestead, a National Historic landmark and a stop on the Underground Railroad for hundreds of slaves seeking freedom in the north. Also on the Lovejoy property is the Colton Schoolhouse, built in 1849 and moved in 1970 from its original location about 2.5 miles east.

    Photo by History Hunter, Flickr

  • 3.1 The Arts Afficionado

    Princeton is fast becoming a haven for the arts. Festival 56, a professional theater festival founded in 2004, offers seven summer productions including Shakespeare in the Park as well as three additional productions in the fall and winter.

  • 3.2 The Arts Afficionado

    Since 1996, the Prairie Arts Center has helped foster the arts in our community by sponsored hundreds of galleries, arts programs, classes, musical & theatrical productions and visual arts exhibitions. Not only do they strive to highlight both area and national artists, in an effort to cultivate the growth of community artists, they offer countless workshops, dicussions and classes for both young and not-so-young alike!

  • 3.3 The Arts Afficionado

    The Princeton Public Library also routinely hosts arts, writing, and photography programs, including the Smithsonian Institution's traveling "Journey Stories" exhibit.

  • 3.4 The Arts Afficionado

    The shops in the North End Arts District feature handmade pottery, furniture, and jewelry, as well as unique gifts, quilting supplies, and antiques. Special events throughout the year also give local craftspeople and musicians a chance to showcase their talents.

  • 4.1 The Antiques Admirer

    If you're in Princeton, you just hit the antiques jackpot!! Start your day off with hours browsing at the Sherwood Antique Mall, where dozens of vendors and specialty collectors make this a Disneyland for antique enthusiasts. You might just find that special something you've been searching for- or a new treasure you didn't even know you wanted!

  • 4.2 The Antiques Admirer

    Princeton's North and South End shopping districts are home home to several remarkable antique shops. Don't be surprised to find Big City items at Small Town prices-including linens, Bakelite jewelry, furniture, kitchen items, and specialty pottery. Be sure to give yourself at least half a day to browse. You'll be glad you did.

  • 5.1 The Architecture Enthusiast

    With Princeton experiencing significant growth during the late 19th century, many of her structures stand today as a reminder of a time when building was both artistic and robust. We offer brochures and guide maps at both the Prouty Building and the Bureau County Historical Society Mesuem situated at 109 Park Avenue West. Be sure to take time and appreciate many of Princeton's beautiful Victorian homes along our brick-paved Park Avenue West.

    Photo by History Hunter, Flickr

  • 5.2 The Architecture Enthusiast

    Located at 1518 South Main St., John Howard Bryant's large brick home, built in 1844 is of interest to architecture and history buffs alike, as it too once served as a stop along the historic Underground Railroad. In his memoirs, Bryant states he had as many as 15 runaway slaves hidden in this home at one time. Abraham Lincoln spent the night here in 1856.

    Photo by History Hunter, Flickr

  • 5.3 The Architecture Enthusiast

    The Cyrus Bryant home was erected the same year just North at 1110 South Main St. Built in the Gothic Revival style, this home was perched a top a small hill and set back from the main drag.

    Austin Bryant's 1856 homestead just south of town is also must-see stopping point for anyone interested in 19th century Architecture and History. Saved from demolition in 2006 by decendents of the Bryant family, the home was beautifuly restored in its original style.

    Photo by History Hunter, Flickr

  • 5.4 The Architecture Enthusiast



    The picturesque plantation-style clubhouse on the Chapel Hill Golf Course is a favorite of those drawn to late 19th and early 20th century design. Dating back to 1909, it began as a simple stop along the Trolley line running between Princeton & Bureau Junction.

    Photo by Sam Justice, Lexington, Kentucky

  • 5.3 The Architecture Enthusiast

    The Greenfield Independent Living facility at 508 Park Avenue East was designed by architect Parker Noble Berry, a graduate of Princeton High School who went on to become Louis Sullivan's chief draftsman and designer. Among his other commercial designs was the two-story building at 902 N. Main Street, now an Asian restaurant. Berry was only 30 when he died in the 1918 influenza epidemic.

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