Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Wine and Wildlife in Central Illinois


The bison didn’t come out to greet me while I had my morning coffee on the patio, but there was definitely a sense of peacefulness to start my day with.  

 


My friend Joan and I were staying at this hidden gem in Central Illinois. Not only did we get to enjoy this enormous scenic part, but it was filled with (mostly contained) wildlife and we had a brand-new cabin to stay in where the bison roamed in Wildlife Prairie Park.

 


After breakfast and coffee, we took the car down to the main entrance and boarded the train. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the park. You’ll get a basic overview from the conductor as you pass through the highlights. 

There is also a stop at the Pioneer area and butterfly habitat. You can get off to explore and pick up a train later to go back to the station.

 


We met with Brad and Sam at the Visitors Center. It’s worth a stop as there’s a lot of information on the area, from how it figures into the history of American Agriculture to charts of the fish you can find in the area.

After a walk through the trail to check out some of the animals, we got into the jeep for a tour of the other accommodations the park has.

 


Tent campers are welcome at Wildlife Prairie Park, but you may want to think twice about roughing it once you see all the unique accommodations.

The Cabooses are perfect for families, especially younger kid. They were created from actual train cars and have bunk beds in them. 



There are Prairie Stable suites with patios that have two small bedrooms in them. Just outside, picnic tables are a great place for groups to meet, as is the recreation center.

In the same area are the cottages. I really liked the way these converted grain bins, with kitchenettes, faced the lake, making them ideal for kayakers and fishermen. Firepits and grills are also outside in front of the lake.

 


From there we headed to Kickapoo Creek Winery which is just a few miles away from the park.

The tasting room is spread out and welcoming, and the grounds are just beautiful, making them ideal for weddings and other events. They also participate in Harvest Hosts, a group that list wineries that allow for RV parking.

  

The wines here are also worth the trip. The Rose Blush was our favorite, strawberry and cherry flavored, and not overly sweet. The Sun Kiss was also terrific, and my friend Joan, more of a red lover than I am, went home with a bottle of the St. Croix.

 I couldn’t resist the Chocolate Raspberry, which has strong notes of my favorite treat.

 



Kickapoo Creek Winery also serves food and the menu is wide ranged. After sharing a spinach artichoke dip, I had a Turkey Rueben while Joan had the Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich (served with a sesame ginger mayo). They were both delicious.

 


For dessert, we shared a Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake and Pecan Bourbon Pie, both of which were delicious.

We headed back to Wildlife Prairie Park for some rest on our patio. 

 


Before we had left for the winery, we met with Mike of the Mike’s Knot Just Ribs food truck, which parks by the Visitors Center. We took back a ton of barbecue for dinner.

We were still pretty full from lunch, but we did taste some amazing ribs, pulled pork nachos, coleslaw, beans, and macaroni & cheese. There were plenty of leftovers.


 


It didn’t take long before we were both exhausted from the day and headed to our bedrooms. We had a little more time the next day to see more of Wildlife Prairie Park.



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