FARM TO FARM TABLE
Locavore brings the table to the farm in peaceful rural Kankakee County.
Just six miles north of Kankakee in rural Bourbonnais, Illinois, 4,000-acre Kankakee River State Park sits astride 11 pristine miles of the cleanest-flowing stream in Illinois: the Kankakee River. A rare National Water Trail river, the Kankakee is easily accessible from Illinois Rt. 102 and Rt. 113 as well as I-55 and I-57.
Once an indispensable part of the 19th Century inland canoe route that connected the Great Lakes to the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, the pure-flowing Kankakee River has the natural power to connect you to something lovely and ancient inside yourself.
Although you won’t find it challenging to access the park, you may find it difficult to leave. Here, not far from the concrete and noise of everyday metropolitan Chicago, you'll find yourself in a natural paradise of clean flowing water, fragrant green leaves, colorful flowers, open savannas, ancient wetlands and myriad other resplendent natural treasures. Marvel at the lovely limestone bluffs and verdant banks.
Cast a line - whether spinning, casting or fly fishing. If fly fishing is your thing, check out Big River Fly Fishing and Grab Your Fly Charters for guided experiences you won’t soon forget. Canoe and kayak til your arms are weary and your heart is happy. We’ve got an outfitter for that, too! Visit Reed’s Canoe Trips for your paddling needs.
Other Kankakee County outdoor wonders include Willowhaven Park & Nature Center in Kankakee featuring hiking, disc golf, a three-acre dog park, fishing and hiking trails. Perry Farm Park, in Bourbonnais, hosts walking, running, cycling, rollerblading, skateboarding and features an Historic Farmstead, the Exploration Station…a children’s museum, Native American Indian caves, a barnyard playground and more.
Kankakee River Valley Forest Preserve District maintains a veritable tapestry of wonderful preserves, prairie restorations, trails, groves, creeks, ponds, lakes, wetlands, an arboretum and the 46-acre Shannon Bayou Environmental Education Center. Truly, the collection represents acre upon acre of treasures so beautiful you’ll want to return again and again to experience more, learn more and make more memories.
Kankakee County is well known to the Nature Conservancy of Illinois with its remarkable 1,800-acres of stunning oak savanna, including the finest example of black oak savanna in the midwestern United States at Kankakee Sands In Illinois.
Back at Kankakee River State Park, giddy up and make time to learn the art of horseback riding at Kankakee River State Park Riding Stables on their lovely wooded trails where the horses and barn cats are all part of a big, wonderful multi-species family.
Don’t forget to pack your clubs - and bring a few extra balls when you visit hilly Minne Monesse Golf Course in Grant Park. It’s a delightful par 72 track with water on 11 of 18 holes, interesting blind tee shots, dramatic elevation changes, a fun variety of relatively open as well as wooded holes and a true no-two-holes-alike flavor.
And if you’re the sort of person who loves to spend your outdoor time in the water, Haigh Quarry is our local hotspot for scuba diving and is a “Top-Ten Underwater Attraction” according to Reader's Digest Magazine. Or enjoy Splash Valley Aquatic Park, a family-friendly water park with body and tube slides, water playground and sand volleyball.
If you love authentic local flavors enjoyed in the friendly confines of unique local restaurants, go with the slow (food) in Kankakee County! Grab a seat outside at Stefari Cafe, crack open a book and enjoy a hand-crafted sandwich and a cappuccino. Cool off with fine hand-crafted ice cream at Rebel Ice Cream Co or PJ's Ice Cream - or grab silky soft serve at Dairy Queen. Did you know Kankakee is known as the birthplace of Dairy Queen?
Relax out on the colorful patio (or indoors if you prefer) at Grapes & Hops in Kankakee, a craft beer and wine boutique centered around fun, experimentation, self-expression and community. Or, try Flight 102 Winebar for perfectly curated chef pairings featuring flavors that start in Italy, travel through France and finish in California’s wine country with their famous flights. Enjoy delicious wine, espresso, craft beer and tasty meals at Off The Vine in Momence.
Downtown Manteno’s Square on Second is the perfect safe, intimate destination to take the whole family, with restaurants, ice cream and shops nearby. The kids will love the famous zip line, jump pillow and always-popular splash pad and other playground delights. Visit summertime Saturday mornings and shop for hand-crafted foods and fresh produce at one of the best Farmers’ Markets in the midwest in downtown Kankakee. And marvel at Sumac Creek Farm's world-famous farm-to-table meals served as the sun begins its daily decline on a lovely pasture at a table seating 100.
If beer is your thing, you’ll be right at home at newly-opened Knack Brewing & Fermentations, a charming nano-brewery specializing in pale ale, lager, saison and hop bombs. The Barrel Room at Hoppy Pig Restaurant & Bar in Bradley features 300 whiskeys, bourbons and scotches, 42 taps of craft beer, carefully crafted cocktails, wine and house-made smoked food specialties. Other local favorites include award-winning BrickStone Brewery, an official Illinois Made Maker and Steam Hollow Brewing Co., a veteran-owned 10 bbl microbrewery with a rustic steampunk-inspired taproom.