Starved Rock Voted Top Attraction in Illinois
Jul 10, 2012, 9:23 a.m.
It was an epic showdown between 64 attractions. After six weeks of head-to-head matchups, Starved Rock State Park in Utica was voted the Illinois Fan Favorite attraction for 2012. Runners-up include the Museum of Science & Industry, Brookfield Zoo and Galena's Main Street. The contest was launched by the Illinois Office of Tourism to boost awareness of Illinois attractions and increase traffic to the state's facebook page.
"You'll have bragging rights for infinity," said Jessica Gallagher of JWT for the IL Office of Tourism. "As the winner, Starved Rock will be featured on the home page of the state's website (enjoyillinois.com) and Facebook pages with links to a rotating feature section."
The contest began with 64 brackets (like NCAA playoffs). The four original categories were outdoor adventure, family fun, Illinois history and architecture.
"Starved Rock encompasses all of the categories in one place," said Kathy Casstevens-Jasiek, director of marketing at Starved Rock Lodge. "I was happy when I saw we won and Starved Rock had edged Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry as Illinois' top attraction. We received 63% of the vote!
"It's exciting news," she continued. "It couldn't get any better." Both Starved Rock State Park and Lodge are listed on the national registry of historic places. The Lodge's Great Hall is the centerpiece of the pine-and-log structure, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Many of the paths, bridges, shelters and cabins built by the CCC are still around today.
Mother Nature has been very kind to the 2,630 acre park, which features 13 miles of hiking trails, seasonal waterfalls, canyons and bluff views of the scenic Illinois River Valley. Starved Rock has a name with a rich history, dating back to a 1760s incident in which a band of Illiniwek Indians took refuge on top of a 124-foot butte made of St. Peter Sandstone. The geology and cultural history, combined with the Lodge, forests and river make for an unexpectedly unique destination located at the crossroads of the Midwest (just a few miles from the intersection of I-80 & I-39).
This latest honor caps a run by Starved Rock, which last year welcomed nearly 2.2 million visitors, an all-time high, and broke 10 monthly attendance records since 2008. Casstevens-Jasiek readily acknowledged that free admission and free parking have fueled the park's surging popularity, and she expressed her hope that the honor would lead to increased efforts to preserve the park.
Senior-friendly Fun Added to Lodge Offerings
After the successful expansion of the "Tribute to the Stars" program, Starved Rock Lodge has added a few new ways to have fun and seniors are eating it up!
First, it's homemade Artisan ice cream. There are currently more than 22 flavors, all made fresh, right at the Lodge._From Pecan Praline to Berry-weiss (ice cream with Leinenkugel beer actually works), there's nothing more refreshing on a summer day.
"The flavors are always changing," said Chef Bear (Barry Brooks), who was put in charge of creating unique recipes for the new desserts. "We're looking at pumpkin, cinnamon and harvest-time inspirations for fall and peppermint sticks and icy blue flavors for winter."
Starved Rock's Artisan ice cream is available in the Lodge's main dining room and in the Back Door Lounge, outside on the Veranda, at the Café and at Trailheads Concessions (located in the Visitor Center).
In addition to ice cream, the Lodge has a new way to celebrate special occasions. It's called Starved Rock Bubbly. Much like a muscato and made exclusively with locally-grown, Illinois grapes for Starved Rock Lodge, the carbonated wine was added to the list of grown-up beverages and named "Nature's Celebration." Priced at $18 per bottle (cash/carry or $25 served) it's all part of the Lodge's on-going commitment to offering new and fun ways to make the most of a trip to Starved Rock Lodge which is nestled in the beauty of Starved Rock State Park in historic Utica.