If you’re from the St. Louis Metropolitan area, chances are you might have a little “Raging Reader” that is ending the school year with a free ticket to Raging Rivers Water Park in Grafton. There’s no reason to just think of Raging Rivers as a daytrip. Plan a quick getaway for some unforgettable family fun. If you’re from out of town, Raging Rivers is the coolest place on the river for families, and the deals right now are too good to pass up.
Raging River WaterPark offers great deals and packages to make it perfect family trip.
This really isn’t your average water park. Raging Rivers is the premier water park in the St. Louis region, nestled in the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. While the kids are going wild splashing in the sun, adults can still have a sense of serenity as they enjoy the natural surroundings and fantastic view of the Mississippi River. The park features water rides for all ages – Itty Bitty Surf City, Treehouse Harbor, Breaker Beach Wave Pool, Shark Slide, Cascade Body Flume, Swirlpool, Endless River and Runaway Rafts. New in 2013, you can relax and unwind in your own private Paradise Cabana overlooking the Breaker Beach Wave Pool!
Start your summer off with a splash and cool off your pocket book with these great deals!
Adults Pay Kids’
Price – Bring your Pepsi can to the park to cash in on this money-saving offer.
2 for 1 after 3 p.m. – Clip the coupon found on Bunny Bread packages to take advantage of this deal available every day after 3 p.m. and all day on Tuesdays.
$3 off Admission
Receive $3 off Child and Adult admission when you present the $3 off coupon available only at Schnucks.
*Complete details on all of the coupons available can be found at www.RagingRivers.com in the Deals section.
Pere Marquette Lodge
Add the Raging Rivers Water Park Package to your overnight stay at Pere Marquette Lodge in Grafton for just $50. This $50 add-on package includes four tickets to Raging Rivers and a $20 voucher for breakfast at the Lodge.
Holiday Inn Alton The Holiday Inn Raging Rivers Package was created with families in mind. Package includes overnight accommodations for four, four tickets to Raging Rivers and four full breakfast buffets for $159.95 (plus tax) Sunday through Friday and $179.95 (plus tax) on Saturday night.
Comfort Inn Alton Splash into summer savings with this Raging Rivers. Package priced at $149 a night plus tax. The package includes: overnight accommodations for two adults and two children, four tickets to Raging Rivers and free continental breakfast buffet.
Ruebel Hotel Just minutes from Raging Rivers in the heart of Grafton, the Ruebel Hotel is offering overnight accommodations for four, tickets for two adults and two children, and deluxe continental breakfast. The package is priced at $129 Sunday through Thursday with a $45 weekend supplement.
The Loft at the Whole Scoop Get one free Raging Rivers ticket and one free ice cream per guest when you book your getaway at The Loft at the Whole Scoop in Grafton. Priced at $145 per night (up to 4 people) Sunday through Thursday and $225 per night (up to four people) Friday and Saturday. The Whole Scoop can accommodate up to 8 people a night for $25 – $35 per person, per night.
Raging Rivers Water Park is open May 25, 2013, through Sept. 2, 2013. Go to www.RagingRivers.com for a full park schedule, hours and deals.
Suzanne is a full-time stay-at-home mom to her four busy little boys and is the former PR Director for the Alton Regional CVB.
The Heartland Prairie is a great place to watch nature and wildlife.
Right now the shooting stars are absolutely beautiful! No, not the ones in the sky, the ones at the Heartland Prairie in Alton, Illinois. This Illinois wildflower will knock your socks off!
That’s why I recommend walking on the trails through the prairie barefoot. My kids love to!
Hurry up and visit the prairie, though. This plant dies down as soon as summer begins.
Located on the north side of Gordon Moore Park, the 60-acre prairie is a wonder anytime during the summer. For 30 years volunteers, in partnership with the City of Alton, have been planting and cultivating the prairie. It has more than 150 native prairie plant species and harbors a large variety of grassland-dependent birds.
A really cool sight to behold is the annual burning of the prairie when volunteers wipe out the plants with fire. =D
There are good eats where you might not have thought ot find them!
The School House Grill is one such eatery. It is located at the former location of Thomas Jefferson School which is now the Senior Services Plus at 2603 N. Rodgers Ave. in Alton. If you aren’t over 55 years old yet you might not have heard of the services and fine food they have available on all week days from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily.
They cook all the meals for the Meals On Wheels program, serving hundreds each day. While they are readying the deliveries for the program they also cook for the general public daily.
There are many more reasons to go to the Senior Center but none can beat the tasty foods that their chefs cook daily. I have personally tasted and enjoyed the many breakfasts and lunches that they offer. If you order the daily morning special, the special always comes with milk, fruit cup and juice of some kind. Also, you can just order off the menu if you prefer. I love their biscuits and gravy and also their hash brown potatoes, crispy, smothered in sausage gravy with my 2% milk to wash them down.
I have enjoyed many lunch meals at the School House Grill while visiting with friends and acquaintances. They have a daily choice of two specials or a special surprise special daily. I have enclosed a sampling of the menus and specials. Oh, I almost forgot to mention they have a “dynamite” soup and salad bar daily with lots of different salad fixings and always two kinds of soup or potato bar and chili. I especially love their broccoli cheese soup, clam chowder and their stuffed green pepper soup. Their salad bar is also loaded with lots of healthy fresh fruits to eat.
Lastly, on any day of the week you can order their white fish sandwich which is one on the best in the area. Their fish is always cooked to perfection.
The School House Grill is not a white linen table cloth place with waiters whom seat you at tables but they are just a nice place to eat that is always clean, well lit with the friendliest service in town complements of Nancy Groves and company.
If you go be sure to come after 7 a.m. and before 1 p.m. Breakfast is all day but lunch starts at 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday thru Friday weekly. While you are there enjoying your meal check out their other many services and exercise equipment room.
Nancy and Andy were small business owners for 40 years in the Alton area. They both volunteer with the Lewis and Clark Confluence Towers in Hartford and the AARP.
I recently took a quick trip down to Florida in March to watch my beloved Cardinals in a few Spring Training games and over the course of my time there I ran into as you might expect several folks from the Midwest. After we took care of the preliminary discussion on how WE could manage the Cards this year and the off season dealings we would have liked to have seen the conversation generally drifted toward where we were from. It ccurred to me as I started to say “I am from St. Louis” rather than attempt to describe just where Brighton (where I live) is, that I should always take the time to explain exactly where Brighton, Ill., is and right where Hartford, Illl., Camp River Dubois is located.
Camp River Dubois is located in Hartford, Ill.
My question to you is how do you answer “where are you from?” We are all ambassadors for our region no matter where we travel. I see in the paper all the time folks snapping pictures wearing Cardinals gear in the most remote locations they can find, are you wearing your Alton 175th anniversary shirt when you travel? When I was down at Spring Training I was wearing a Southwestern Piasa Birds shirt. I had more fun first helping folks pronounce Pie-A-Saw and going over the Legend of the Piasa Bird and when that ultimately led to a question of where this legend came from I was happy to point them toward Piasa Park and the Piasa Bird on the Bluffs.
Learn about the legend of the Piasa Bird while in Alton.
That would of course lead to a description of the River Road in the Spring, driving north toward Grafton. What landmarks are we using to help folks pinpoint just where we are in Illinois. How about the Clark Bridge? The Lovejoy Monument? Argosy Casino Alton or Cargill Flour Mill? Whenever I let folks know just where the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site is in Hartford, I start with the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. If you are interested in the confluence of these two rivers, there is no better view in the area than the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower just north of the Historic Site.
See the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers at the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower.
Why is this all so important you might ask? Because regardless of our close proximity to St. Louis we have our own identity here in the Riverbend. I am proud everyday of all that we have to offer not only for our visitors to come and see but for what we have for those of us who live here. I love to spend time with our out-of-town (and even some locals) visitors giving them a heads-up on where to go next on the east side of the River.
Drive along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, which begins in Hartford and ends at Pere Marquette State Park.
Maybe you are not sure just what there is to do? Well, then this is your call to action to find out. The next time someone asks “where are you from?” Start small in your own hometown, if they are unsure pick out some landmarks in the community they might have heard of. If they are still not sure pull out your smartphones and go to www.visitalton.com, grab an Alton Visitor Guide or an Illinois map and show them and then be sure to offer them a tour of the area when they come and visit you.
Brad is Site Manager at Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in Hartford, Illinois. He is also an adjunct instructor at Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey teaching US History and Computer Literacy.
As a stay-at-home mom of four little boys with boundless energy, we have reached a point in the winter season when we are all hearing a very loud voice saying, “Get me out of this house!” Finally, this past weekend the first crocus pushed its way through the blades of grass on the front lawn, a sure sign that spring is on the way!
My little brood is eager to shift full speed ahead into spring, and as soon as the temperatures break, we’ll be hitting the road. Where are we headed you ask? Oh, we’re just going to the park…Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois. If you’re going to go to the park, you need to go big or go home, and Pere Marquette is the largest state park in Illinois with more than 8,000 acres to enjoy. Plus, Pere Marquette State Park fits the bill for the perfect family outing because it’s FREE!
Beautiful, scenic views can be found at Pere Marquette State Park.
Some people might say it’s not the journey but the destination, but the drive to and from the park along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway is one of the highlights of the trip. The kids love watching the barges on the river, and my husband and I have come to appreciate the changing of the seasons. Spring is no exception as the red buds begin to bloom and blanket the bluffs along the road.
Then, lace up your shoes and get ready to go. Kids need a place to roam free, explore, run, walk and fun, and the trails in the park fit the bill, offering several choices for difficulty and length. Since we have a broad spectrum of ages to accommodate, from seven years to three years (and the newest addition just 9 months), we tend to stick to the easier trails. Our favorite trail is the Hickory Trail, which offers a mild challenge for little legs and two very cool scenic overlooks. Since this is one of the easier trails, it is well travelled. If you are looking for a little more solitude, this might not be the trail for you, but we really enjoy the new faces we meet along the way.
When it looks like the kids have finally run out of gas, it’s time to pile back into the car and head back down to Pere Marquette Lodge. Originally built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Lodge is the centerpiece of the park with its rustic timbers and native stone. The Great Room is a stand-alone attraction featuring a 700-ton stone fireplace, life-size chess set and plenty of chairs to lounge in and relax as you look out on the Illinois River.
The Lodge is the perfect spot to unwind and recharge when coming off the trails. And, it’s an even better place to spend the night with 50 lodge rooms, 22 stone cabins, an indoor pool, winery and restaurant. If time permits, you might plan on having a meal at the Lodge Restaurant, where the family-style chicken dinner never disappoints.
Right now, we just have time for a daytrip, but if you are looking for a relaxing weekend away, the park offers plenty of other opportunities for outdoor recreation to keep the kids busy. Fishing off the dock, horseback riding, camping, picnicking and bird watching are all perfect ways to pass the time if you have a long weekend planned.
Pere Marquette State Park is the perfect place to take your kids for a full day of fun.
I mentioned earlier that the journey to the destination makes this worth the trip. Well, the journey home is sometimes even better. Four little boys tuckered out from a day out on the trails means a much needed hour of peace and quiet to really enjoy the ride. Needless to say, our snack bag is packed, and the hiking boots are ready. Come on spring, we’re ready to go full throttle!
Suzanne is a full-time stay-at-home mom to her four busy little boys and is the former PR Director for the Alton Regional CVB.
The beginning of spring and end of summer are punctuated for me by a trip to Ketchum Corner Kreem, a
neighborhood stop, aptly named because it sits at the corner of Alby and Elm, 33 E. Elm to be exact. My two visits a year are a ritual because of my ‘need’ for their turtle sundaes. You’re probably thinking…two visits a year for ice cream…what gives?
Admittedly, I frequent Ketchum’s throughout the summer season, but these two signify a kind of glee and sadness – realizing that the warm weather has arrived and no more turtles till another year. Not only are the turtle sundaes the bomb, but probably just as important, their prices for ice cream in general, just don’t seem to match the quantity they scoop.
On those other times when I’m not jonesing for turtle
sundaes, I normally buy an ice cream cone. I never get more than one scoop, because one scoop at Ketchum’s is another ice cream shop’s – at minimum – two scoops. And even though math was never my forte, I know the difference between sizes of one and two scoops of ice cream.
In other words, the customer is getting way more than what we’re paying for. And as quiet as it’s kept, I think it’s a marketing ploy. ‘Give ‘em more than they expect, and I bet they’ll come back time and time again.’
Wouldn’t that be cool if every business functioned as such? Well for my 36.5 inch waist, my ice cream fix, and the duckets in my wallet, Ketchum’s is my kind of place. Well, two out of three ain’t bad – I used to be a solid 36 inches around the midsection.
And I’m not saying Ketchum’s doesn’t have other fantastic stuff. They probably do. The menu touts hot dogs, pulled pork, brats and Reuben sandwiches. I’m loyal because of the ice cream. For my money, it’s the turtle sundae for pure unadulterated, roll your eye balls back in your head, mixing in the caramel with the fudge and the nuts with the ice cream, sinful pleasure of summertime delight.
One Father’s Day or birthday, I can’t remember which, my youngest son had left me a note on the kitchen table to look in the freezer. My giddiness would have you think he had purchased me a ticket to a Yes or Steely Dan concert. THERE WAS A TURTLE SUNDAE IN THE FREEZER!!! I started nibbling, intending it as an appetizer before dinner. I was unable to stay true to delayed gratification – until all the turtle was gone.
In summary, Ketchum’s Corner Kreem turtle sundae is to die for. Oh, oh, I just had a brain brilliant telepathic moment. Upon my demise, I’m going to prepay some purchases of turtle sundaes as part of my funeral
arrangements and have one of my kids, or wife – those women normally outlive us – to announce on that dreadful day…there’s happiness: you can go by Ketchum’s and have one on me – well not on me – I’ll be gone by then.
Jared Hennings is the Facilities Manager at Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey.
I just came back home to the Alton area in summer of 2012 after spending most of the last 35 years growing up and raising a family in Jersey County. I can truly say I have had the best of both worlds. Jersey County is a great place to grow up, to raise your kids and to grow roots for a lifetime. Jerseyville will always be in the heart of where I call home. They have a very good school system and their performing arts programming is second to none in the region.
But my origins started in Alton and now I’m back. My family moved from Alton to Jerseyville when I was only 7 years old. I am the youngest of nine children, and the first half of my siblings call Alton home. The second half of us call Jerseyville our hometown. I have very few memories of living in Alton as a child, but there are some good ones, indeed. I remember our big house on Elm Street – it had to be a big one to hold all 11 of us! I remember attending Irving School, and I remember attending Elm Street Presbyterian Church. My most vivid memory is of bugging my mom incessantly until she passed today’s issue of the Alton Telegraph to me. Mom says I started reading it at just 3 years old and insisted upon reading it every day…and I still do!
Now, that my sons are grown, I am having some very different interactions with Alton since moving back into the area last August. There is just so much to do…all right here! I have fallen in love with the Meditation Garden and the Nan Elliot Memorial Rose Garden at Gordon Moore Park. My camera and I have a special relationship with both of them. And my favorite place to “hide out” to clear my head is riverside at Alton’s Riverfront Park.
Smell the roses at the Nan Elliott Rose Garden at Gordon Moore Park in Alton.
If you haven’t taken the walk bridge from Broadway at the foot of Langdon over to Riverfront Park, you should make the time to do so. It is an amazing view and a rather empowering walk over Landmarks Boulevard. When you get on the other side, you can experience the thrill of a concert at Alton’s Riverfront Amphitheater. Concerts such as the $5 Fridays, Mississippi Earthtones and the Big Gig make enjoying live music at the Amphitheater a real thrill and indeed a truly unique experience. Concerts at nearby Jacoby Arts Center and Rockin’ with Robert will also leave you satisfied with the musical sounds of this river city, but still craving for more.
Get to Alton's Riverfront by walking across this bridge from Broadway.
The local music talent is something you won’t find elsewhere – the River’s influence is a definite. Sounds from bands like local favorites The Blu Skies, Typsy Gypsy, Nightlife, Outlaw Opry, Crazy Chester, Drama, Off the Shoulder, Mondinband and Fiddleback – along with a whole lot of others – make the Alton area’s nightlife something everyone should experience. Whether you’re visiting the area for a few nights or have made it your home, there’s plenty of fun and entertainment right here in River City. Oh, and then there’s Argosy Casino…
Melissa is a freelance writer and a scenic/architectural photographer, currently serving as Jacoby Arts Center’s executive director.
Believe it or not, spring is here and things will be heating up with lots of fun this summer. I am very excited to be working with the City of Alton and Triple Jam Entertainment to bring back the $5 Fridays concerts.
The bands and dates are in place, with the first concert kicking off on Friday June 14 with the country’s premier Jimmy Buffet Tribute Band. The following Friday, the Summer Concert series welcomes back Think Floyd. The final two concerts for the Summer Concert Series rock out August with tribute bands for the Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin.
All of the concert information can be found on our site at www.VisitAlton.com. Stay tuned for some fresh Summer Block Party announcements soon for Third Street as well, hosted by Alton Main Street.
This week the CVB also hosted a quality workshop for our industry on the ins and outs of credit card processing with our restaurateurs in the region. Through an incredible workshop presented by The Bank of Edwardsville, our business partners better understand the credit card fees and changes in the laws. Credit Card fees are a huge expense for our small businesses. And, whether or not you realize it these fees vary based on the types of card you use.
Most of us have reward cards of some sort, either a cash back bonus or a travel reward. However, did you realize that those added bonuses are passed on to the expense of the businesses where the card was used? The rates for those bonus or reward cards are at a higher percentage of the total sale than a regular. The best rates for a business are found in the debit card processing.
Our local family owned businesses are scrambling to find ways to deal with a lot of new expenses, especially with rising food costs this summer and the unknown healthcare issues. So, one way you can help them out a bit is to consider using cash! Ok, that may not be realistic for all of us, but if you have a debit card use that instead. At least the rates are not as expensive for our small businesses.
As we look at the week ahead event wise, we will celebrate spring breaks with family in town for Easter. Don’t forget to visit Glazebrook Community Park later today to participate in the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Don’t worry about the cooking or the dishes as several restaurants in Alton and Grafton are offering special meals just for Easter. Run off all the extra calories during the Challenge of the Bluffs Run that’s scheduled for Saturday. There are plenty of events for everyone in the family this Easter season. Enjoy Easter all around Alton!
Brett Stawar is president and CEO of the CVB, which works for the vested interests of hospitality partners in northwestern Madison County and all of Jersey and Calhoun counties.
It’s easy to feel spring coming when we have warm days and sunshine. But what about those grey sky days that barely reach 50? How do we keep that warm spring smile on our faces? I say take an eye to the sky.
Snow geese at Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge.
Flocks of white birds have been filling the sky for a few weeks now. In early March the sky around Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge was speckledwithsnow geese. Their loud honking hung over the wildlife refuge for days as the geese and their pintail and mallard comrades moved from fields to marshes, filling their bellies for their travels north. Migration had started!
Now only three weeks later the majority of snow geese have moved on toward their northern breeding grounds and their larger white and black cousins are dotting our sky. Pelicans can be seen flying low over the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Take a ride on the Brussels Ferry north of Grafton and you’re bound to see a pelican fly over the boat. Or from the refuge visitor center, look high in the sky and you may see a flock soaring up in circles as though they’re in a tunnel.
Egrats stop at the Refuge to rest. Photo courtesy of Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge.
Soon, another big white bird will move into the area for the summer, the great egret. Stop at the refuge this summer to spot one wading in Swan Lake as it searches for frogs and minnows.
If you’re not sure how to watch for these birds or other wildlife on your own, come to the refuge this spring for one of the many walks and other events scheduled. To view a schedule of events go to the Two Rivers
National Wildlife Refuge website at www.fws.gov/refuge/Two_Rivers or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TwoRiversNWR. Cortney Solum is the Visitor Services Manager at Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge. She enjoys spending time outdoors, especially when she can share it with families visiting the refuge. Cortney, her husband and their dog Coach live in Jerseyville, Ill., and enjoy hunting, hiking and camping.
A new phone list turned up recently in my inbox at work.
That’s good for a few minutes of entertainment as we search for an empty cubicle to see who’s missing, then look for a new name in our IT group. If it’s a new employee, within a few days that someone will be introduced around and we engage in a few get-to-know-you-chats, and the question is again posed to me: “Why Alton?” Why did I buy a house in Alton, in another state in a city maybe near Chicago, so far from where I work in West St. Louis County?
It’s only 28 miles, I reply. That’s a doable thirty minutes if there’s no traffic and you ignore the math story problem that begins with “If you’re driving the speed limit …”. And I shopped for a house in the place people recommended — Webster Grove, St. Charles, St. Louis Hills – and found it was a long drive to meet the Realtors if measured in time lost stuck in traffic waiting for lights to change, smashing radio buttons.
The Fast Eddie crowd thinks they know the answer. Ah, closer to Fast Eddie’s. With a gambling boat nearby after your beer and dollar hamburger. Those may be perks, but not my reason.
Why Alton, Altonites even ask me. They’ve lived their lifetimes here and they don’t seem to see the city anymore.
Why? Because I love beauty. My first draw was because I love owning a beautiful house in a neighborhood where I can walk at night and this is where I could afford one. My house has 10-foot ceilings (or walls), hardwood floors, and two fireplaces. Not one, but two, fireplaces; I feel like a rich person. I live a block away from a park overlooking the river. I’m within walking distance of the library, the Fireworks display, the Halloween parade, and a variety of antique shops, restaurants and taverns.
My ‘hood hosts charming summer band concerts. Sometimes it’s hard to actually watch the concert because there may be competition in a breath-taking sunset reflecting over the river behind us. Halfway through the concerts, an attending clown leads a children’s parade. Maybe other cities have concerts in parks, but I know there’s only one JoJo the Clown. Yoo-hoo! And to add to the magic in my neighborhood, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus have a house here when they’re not at the North Pole.
I choose Alton because I love nature. Weeknights driving home I feel relief when I’m on Hwy 367 and get past the Lindbergh exit and that tension peculiar to a large city – St. Louis with its loops of interstates — is gone. For several miles I’m in the country. I cross the Missouri River and look to the left to check out the view of the river winding to the horizon. To the right I know I’m looking at Confluence Park because I’ve once taken the road to that point where the Missouri and Mississippi collide. Amazing.
If it’s winter, I play the “spot eagle-spotters” game. When I first moved here, I looked for eagles. Now I realize I’m looking mostly for eagle-watchers to see if they’re watching eagles. To the right of the Clark Bridge I might spy a group of people staring over the lake
toward the gas station. If someone is holding up binoculars, that’s a promising sign, but if there’s a camera with a telephoto lens being focused, I know I’ve spotted an eagle. Vicariously. I make a mental note to come back and park to see the eagle. That area is at the edge of a bird sanctuary so there are many other birds to watch, and someday I’ll go watch them, too.
And it’s Alton for me because history intrigues me. It’s an old town. My house was built in 1888 and has a ghost. Not unusual; house ghosts are standard issue in Alton. And to know Alton’s history is to be proud of
it (except for the Lovejoy disaster). It was once the boomtown for the west before St. Louis snatched the position away.
Monticello Ladies Seminary — now part of Lewis and Clark Community College — was started in 1838 and besides the usual “ladies” pursuits of art and needlework, the school offered courses in advanced mathematics, chemistry, and mineralogy. Alton was active in the Underground Railroad, and the Ursuline Sisters here along with several churches and citizens gave aide to escaping slaves. Rescued slaves found work and respect in the town and surrounding communities.
I could go on, but I won’t ramble here; I’ll ramble in my head. But I do choose Alton, everyday. I could sell my house, move closer to work. But I don’t. Just saying – if you’re not from Alton, take a look at it.
And if Alton is your hometown … take a look at it.
Gwen O’Brien is an IT Professional/ Novelist. She lives in a century-plus house in Alton and commutes daily to work in St. Louis.