If you have ever opted for staying at a bed and breakfast instead of a traditional hotel, it is likely you have enjoyed a home-cooked breakfast versus a standard hotel continental breakfast bar, as well as the friendly conversation and helpful local knowledge of the inn owner.
Most inns are in private homes and feature up to eight rooms, each decorated differently and often in keeping with the history of the home. Usually, the congenial owner lives on the property.
For first-time visitors and people who prefer to stay at an inn, these six, scattered throughout the state, may be worth a visit. Room rates shown are the lowest offered throughout the year, but prices vary by type of room, day of the week and season.
9001 W. Sand Hill Road, Galena
Surrounded by thick woods on three sides and featuring 180-degree views of the Mississippi River on the fourth, the Goldmoor Inn offers a classic country inn experience just 6 miles from Galena, where 85% of the village is included in the Galena Historic District.
The once privately owned estate was transformed three decades ago into a country inn offering a variety of accommodations for overnight guests. Situated on 21 acres of gardens and grounds, room choices include suites in the main lodge, cabins and cottages.
“Many have private, stunning views of the Mississippi River,” says co-owner Birgit Radin. Along with husband Slobo, the couple has more than 25 years of hospitality experience for hotels and resorts on three continents.
Amenities normally not found at an inn but included at the Goldmoor are a restaurant on the property, a spa and breakfast delivered to each guest room every morning. All rooms have a jacuzzi tub, king bed, fireplace and a fully equipped kitchenette.
A 15-minute drive into Galena takes guests into the heart of the historic town, which features a variety of boutique shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and Civil War history.
Rooms from $330
Things to do:
Galena. Go to visitgalena.org for a comprehensive guide of places to eat and shop, galenahistory.org for historic sites, and galenatrolleys.com for narrated tours.
855 Old Lower Cobden Road, Makanda
While Greg Wellman was teaching in the aviation department at Southern Illinois University, he found 18 acres of land where he could build his dream of a sustainable resort. As a result, the five-suite Makanda Inn and three cabins were developed as an eco-friendly retreat in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. Tucked deep in the woods, the retreat is surrounded by nature, including a creek that flows through the property.
Both high- and low-tech methods for minimizing the impact on the environment were used in the construction of the inn and cottages. Straw bales for sound and energy efficiency fill the walls, and earthen plaster, recycled plastic roofing materials and reclaimed wood for doors and roofing are all integrated throughout the inn. One cottage even features a living roof of native growing plants.
All rooms in the lodge and the cottages were designed from the bed outward, with views of the woods a paramount consideration.
The resort also features the work of several area artisans who handcrafted much of the furniture, created an enormous copper sun sculpture, and made custom-crafted doors and woodwork. Two cottages feature backsplashes made by Shauna Wellman from scrap tile, broken dishes and whatever else she found for inspiration.
Breakfasts are included in the room rates for the inn, and specially made dinners can be ordered.
Rooms from $149
Things to do:
Makanda Boardwalk. Dating to the late 1800s, this block of storefronts contains an eclectic collection of boutique stores a short walk from the inn.
Giant City State Park. This park features spectacular woodlands and sheer sandstone walls for rock climbing and rappelling enthusiasts. The park also offers hiking trails and horseback riding.
Cache River State Natural Area. Made up of 14,960 acres, the area is home to America’s northernmost cypress swamp and contains trees more than 1,000 years old. The site offers biking, hiking, seasonal hunting and fishing.
670 N 8th St., Breese
Few inns have a family history that rivals that of the Breese Inn. When co-owner John Foppe’s parents were seeking a larger home for their family in 1972, they reached an agreement to purchase this 1906 Victorian home with its prominent turret. However, they worried that John, who was 2 at the time and born without arms and with birth defects in his hips, would not be able to manage three flights of steps. They never closed on the purchase.
Then, 23 years later, when John was 25 and his career as a motivational speaker was well-established, he learned the home was for sale and purchased it, completely unaware of his mother’s earlier intentions.
After living in the home for eight years, he met his wife Christine, and they decided to move to nearby St. Louis. John sold the home to his mother and brothers, who added bathrooms to each of the four bedrooms and opened it as a bed and breakfast.
“When our daughter was born in 2007, we decided to move back to Breese, and I purchased it again,” John says. “Then in 2021, we added our own living area, upgraded all the guest rooms and reopened it as the Breese Inn. Mom had operated her inn successfully, so we were confident it would work.”
Rooms and wallcoverings have been selected to mimic what guests in the early 1900s would have expected, accentuated with purchases made during Foppe’s travels around the world. Some walls display watercolors John painted using a brush held between his toes.
“We love this town,” John says. “My family has been here since 1842, when they immigrated from Germany and took up farming.”
Rooms from $89
Things to do:
The Hett Center for the Arts. Southern Illinois’ performing arts venue features world-class dance, drama, classical music and jazz. The auditorium is located on the McKendree University campus in Lebanon.
Carlyle Lake. The largest man-made lake in Illinois offers all kinds of outdoor sports, including sailing, boating, fishing, hunting, birdwatching and golfing.
Eversgerd’s Civil War Fort. The replica is the 30-year passion of one man and features a jail, a one-room home, livery and log cabins.
Harpole’s Heartland Lodge
10236 393rd St., Nebo
Gary Harpole’s happy recollections of visiting his centennial family farm led to him returning to the acreage after college. “He wanted to have dogs, horses and the freedom found in the country,” says Gary’s mother Wanda.
Then Gary had the idea to develop the land into a retreat for others to enjoy. “If Colorado can use its mountains and Florida its beaches, we can use the resources we have in Pike County,” he said, and he proceeded to build.
The 9,500-square-foot Heartland Lodge was constructed in 1995 on 1,200 acres, and the 10,000-square-foot Prairie Ridge Lodge was added in 2005. The 10,100-square-foot Sunset Valley Lodge was constructed in 2014, followed by the Heavenly View Cabin in 2015. Five private cabins are the latest additions.
The prevailing theme for all lodge common areas and rooms is “cabin rustic.” Rooms feature knotty pine and cedar walls, vaulted ceilings, hand-carved Old Hickory furniture and outdoor-themed décor. Some have fireplaces and whirlpool tubs.
In addition to being used for romantic getaways and family vacations, the resort includes a large multipurpose hall for weddings, reunions and meetings.
Activities available on the property include guided hunting (deer, turkey and waterfowl) and fishing trips, sporting clays, half-day excursions on the Mississippi River, morel mushroom hunting, horseback and ATV/UTV trail rides (bring your own), a free pistol range, and hayrides and bonfires.
Rooms from $95
Things to do:
Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge. Covering 3,750 acres of Mississippi River floodplain, the refuge provides a feeding and resting area for migratory birds. Nearly 300 bird species visit the refuge annually.
Pittsfield. The nearby town offers a recorded tour of local homes and sites highlighting their connection to President Lincoln.
Hannibal, Mo. The home of Mark Twain is a 40-minute drive away.
The Tiskilwa Inn
155 High St., Tiskilwa
This stately Italianate-style manor house has been recognized in an Illinois Historic Structures Survey as “a place of special interest because of its aesthetic, architectural and technological significance.”
Built in 1848 by John Stevens as a wedding gift to his daughter and named for a Pottawatomie village and Native American chief, the home features a center hallway with a front stairway of cherry wood and a back stairway of walnut.
Opened as an inn in 2019, it is an elegant step back in time. Original geometric designs of molded plaster grace the ceilings in the library and formal dining room, and five of the home’s original fireplaces remain, each with its own distinctive design. A large glass room known as a Belvedere and common in Italianate architecture sits atop the roofline, offering magnificent views.
Five guest rooms feature antique furniture, private baths, toiletries and guest robes.
The inn is known for its gourmet breakfasts, which include baked eggs with Havarti and dill, homemade buttermilk biscuits with venison-sausage gravy, Tasso ham and Gruyere quiche, and the always popular cinnamon roll bread pudding served with local farm bacon.
Rooms from $149
Things to do:
Tiskilwa Farms Alpacas. Enjoy a farm visit to the herd of 100 alpacas as well as sheep, chickens, turkeys and Akbash dogs.
Hennepin Canal Trail. The 60-mile trail is known for excellent hiking, biking, kayaking and birdwatching.
Princeton Historic District. The 1830-era area is known for boutique shopping and one-of-kind dining choices.
Market Street Inn Bed and Breakfast
220 E. Market St., Taylorville
This inn has an interesting past, having been built in 1892 using plans for a Victorian-style home sold through a mail-order catalog marketed by American architect George Barber. A variety of plans were drawn by Barber and sold all over the world.
Originally, the Market Street Inn was a 4,400-square-foot private residence, but today the main house has been expanded with the addition of rooms on the third floor. Today, its 7,100 square feet features eight ensuite bedrooms (most with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs), two parlors and a large dining room. Two additional rooms are in a carriage house, including the 550-square-foot Hunt Club Suite with a fireplace in the main room and a second next to a whirlpool tub for two.
Native Taylorville innkeepers Joe and Myrna Hauser are celebrating 29 years of innkeeping and ownership, having acquired the property in 1993. They met in town, married, moved away and returned after successful business careers.
Guests at the inn are added to a long list of international visitors from more than 40 nations who have enjoyed the Hauser’s hospitality.
Rooms from $130
Things to do:
Lakeshore Golf Course. Along the banks of Lake Taylorville, this golf course features rolling terrain, tree-lined fairways and lake views.
Lincoln Prairie Bike Trail. The trailhead begins a few blocks from the front door of the inn. The trail is nearly 15 miles of paved asphalt that connects the cities of Pana and Taylorville.
Small Town Taylorville. Explore the locally owned shops and eateries located throughout the town. Visit smalltowntaylorville.com to see everything Taylorville has to offer and discover upcoming events.