Just over 2 hours away by highway (add 30 min. if you avoid the highway), Bureau County, IL, can be a day trip but offers enough to see to recommend it for an overnight getaway. Princeton is the county seat and offers a unique dining and shopping experience along its 2.5 miles of downtown streets. Shops range from clothing and jewelry stores to craft emporiums and specialty shops but Princeton is perhaps best known for its antique shops. We found a terrific eclectic gift shop with a great coffee bar (Beetz Me/Java Joe’s) in an old hardware store and pleasant back porch for an hour’s relaxation from riding. Princeton also boasts some historic homes and other architectural points of interest. Stop by the Bureau County Historical Society Museum to pick up a self-guided tour map.
On the eastern edge of Princeton the Owen Lovejoy Homestead Site, an important stop on the underground railroad, is open to the public. The Red Covered Bridge (built in 1863), just north of Princeton on rt 26, was once part of the Peoria-Galena trail and is still open to traffic.
Originally conceived in 1890 as part of an overall plan to connect the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico in order to facilitate barge shipping, the Hennepin Canal is now preserved in the The Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park. The area is mostly used for recreation but has some interesting viewing points with informational plaques.
Treat yourself to a stay at the Chestnut Street Inn in Sheffield, but plan ahead to reserve a room at this popular bed and breakfast. Owner Monika is making a name for herself in the culinary world and you’ll see why when you enjoy her fabulous breakfast.
There are several other B&Bs in the area, plus motels in Princeton. You’ll find a number of restaurants in Princeton. We tried Wise Guys Bar & Grill and enjoyed a nice dinner.
To get there: Take US 6 to IL 29 to IL 26.