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Happenings around Alton, Grafton and Elsa in October

Tombstone, Arizona
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Happenings around Alton, Grafton and Elsa in October

I am from the West. In the Fall I like to visit some of the areas that have good fall color in the leaves. I get a bulletin from Alton, and find that there is a lot of color there in October.

Since I travel to The Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP) in November, it would be convenient to visit your part of the Midwest before visiting the GSMNP, to view their colors in the higher ups. So, is that a good suggestion.

Appreciate your comments.

9 replies to this topic
Rockford, Illinois
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1. Re: Happenings around Alton, Grafton and Elsa in October

www.visitalton.com

Illinois
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2. Re: Happenings around Alton, Grafton and Elsa in October

I live fairly close to the areas you've specified, so am quite familiar with them. First of all, let me just say we love the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and have vacationed there 2 out of the last 3 years. But we haven't been there to see the fall colors yet. It's definitely something we want to do in the near future. I'm not sure our area can compare to the GSMNP, but the areas you mentioned definitely do have some scenic fall foliage to see. You can travel the "Great River Road" (Highway 100) between Alton and Grafton. The trees in the fall along the river and atop the rocky bluffs look great. Calhoun County to the north of Grafton also has some excellent views of fall foliage.

The Alton area would be somewhat out of your way if you're traveling to the Smokies, but if you have the time and think it's a place you'd like to see, I hope you enjoy it. Just remember that, in my opinion, it's not as spectacular as the Smokies. The Alton area is also home to wintering Bald Eagles. Although a few arrive as early as October & November, the larger numbers don't arrive until January-February. So there's something else to keep in mind. You can visit the website posted by the previous person. That is Alton's official visitors site. You may also want to check out - http://www.greatriverroad.com/

Have fun and happy trails.

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Tombstone, Arizona
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3. Re: Happenings around Alton, Grafton and Elsa in October

Well Tab, looks like you have a young family. Thanks for your swift reply. Looks like I will be headed to that area in the last week of October. Since I get a bulletin from Alton, I have a list of places to visit like some of the Roadside Fruit Stands and the Apple Orchards in Jerseyville and just north of Marquette State Park. Also, Elsah is an interesting little place and there is a College there called Principia with a tour available. Might even get a picture of the "Piaza Bird" on side of the limestone cliffs near Alton. Alton also has a lot of history to offer, so I plan to take in as much of it all as time permits.

Afterwards, I will be headed to the GSMNP in the first week of November and I am sure their colors will be the same as last year, but could come a little earlier this year.

Thanks again for your reply and hope all your travels are safe and the weather always cooperates.

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Marquette
Marquette
Upper Peninsula, MI
Illinois
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4. Re: Happenings around Alton, Grafton and Elsa in October

I guess it's time to change my avatar. It's one of the generic ones available through TripAdvisor and at the time I joined this site, it represented us well enough because there are 3 of us. But our child isn't that young and neither are we. LOL

Yes, Alton definitely has a lot of history. It was home to a Civil War prison. A piece of it still stands, but it's only a very small piece (near downtown). The Melvin Price Locks and Dam houses a small museum dedicated to the Mississippi River. They also offer a tour of the Locks and Dam. All of which is free. This article lists a dozen of some of the most well known eating & drinking establishments in the Alton/Grafton area. stlmag.com/dining/a-river-runs-through-it/

We hope to get down to the GSMNP during the fall someday to see what you've seen. Cades Cove is an absolutely gorgeous place...one of our favorite destinations while we're there. I can't imagine what it looks like after the leaves have turned. I hope you enjoy your visit to our neck of the woods. Be safe and have fun.

Tombstone, Arizona
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5. Re: Happenings around Alton, Grafton and Elsa in October

Illinois: Yeah, and I should change mine also. It has been a while. Getting to your area is just across country for me, once I get to I-44, switch over to I-270, cross the Mississippi, and head up I-255 and exit on to Il. 140 left into Alton, past all the little towns like Bethalto, and Cottage Hills. I have been there before, and have eaten at a little restaurant on 140 and Stanley Rd in Cottage Hills. It has a good breakfast, and the folks are friendly. It was however in the summer and a quickie pass through to some friends that lived in Belleville. This was many years ago.

One suggestion to you on information for the GSMNP. You need to get on the Gatlinburg, forums and ask those folks there for any info you need. Also, you can browse the topics and pick up all sort of info on the surrounding area. You can get a brochure from tennesseeoverhill.com in the mail you request it on line. On Cades Cove, there are certain days it is closed for cyclers in the morning and on weekends it is extremely busy. So again ask the folks on these forums and they will give you all the info you need.

Well, hope your travels are all safe ones

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Illinois
Illinois
United States
Mississippi
Mississippi
United States
Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg
Sevier County, TN
Cades Cove
Cades Cove
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
Illinois
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6. Re: Happenings around Alton, Grafton and Elsa in October

Sounds like you're very familiar with the area and have it all worked out. I don't think the restaurant you speak of is there anymore. A few businesses have come & gone at that spot. If you happen to be driving 140 in Cottage Hills again this time, you might want to stop at Frank's Restaurant. It's just a few blocks to the west of the 255 overpass right on 140. Google still lists it at its old address. I believe Yelp has the current address. They have great breakfast and it's served all day. I get biscuits & gravy, 2 eggs, & hashbrowns, all for around $5.

Thanks for the info on the Smokies, I'll be sure to have a look. The first time we had ever gone to the Gatlinburg area was when my wife & I were in high school. Our class went there for our senior trip. We were best friends at the time. So years later, we decided to take our son back to share what we saw and relive some great memories. We went down in 2013 and loved it so much, we went back in '14. We've been to Cades Cove three times and absolutely love it there. Yeah, I'm aware of the closing periods for walkers/bikers and the weekend traffic. Oh boy am I aware of that traffic. But you know, as much as I dislike heavy traffic normally, it never bothered me at Cades Cove. I guess it's the setting. And all that traffic was often advantageous because it gave us more time to just look and enjoy. We've hiked to Abrams Falls in Cades Cove as well as to the summits of Chimney Tops and Mt. LeConte. Also did Clingmans Dome. Can't wait to get back again. It's been nice talking to you, I hope you enjoy yourself. If this thread happens to still be open when you return, if you think about it, let me know how it went.

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Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg
Sevier County, TN
Cades Cove
Cades Cove
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN
Tombstone, Arizona
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7. Re: Happenings around Alton, Grafton and Elsa in October

Illinois: Well, is that the same Franks that had a place on 140 in Alton? I have been to that one quite a while ago and the food there was on the OK side. Went there for dinner and had their Roast Beef. It was eatable but not a great experience. So, the place on Stanley Road and 140 has closed. What a pity, the folks there were the greatest and we thoroughly enjoyed them and the breakfast was more than reasonably priced and it was also a generous portion. Maybe Franks has a new cook. But there are other places there and in Bethalto. The name of the Restaurant was Twin Cities Restaurant. It has been called by differing names over the years.

Have you been on to the Blue Ridge Parkway. It begins on the NC side of the GSMNP, TN 411, and you can take it a long way, but can stop in Asheville, NC. There you can visit the Biltmore Mansion of the Vanderbilt Family. It is a huge place, so if you go there, find it on line and get the fast info first. Admission is pricey, and rental of the audio guide is also pricey. I plan my trips with the how much I can afford to spend scenario so, I am acutely aware of what things cost before I venture forth.

There is also a site online called BlueRidgeParkway.com. It is a great site for viewing everything along the way and if very informational.

Hope all your travels are safe, the weather cooperates, and everything exceeds your highest expectations.

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Illinois
Illinois
United States
Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
6,663 Reviews
North Carolina Mountains, NC
Asheville
Asheville
North Carolina Mountains, NC
Illinois
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8. Re: Happenings around Alton, Grafton and Elsa in October

I apologize for not replying sooner. I don't frequent the TripAdvisor forums often (as you can tell by my post count) and to be perfectly honest, I kind of forgot about them for a bit.

Yes, it's the same Frank's that was on 140, near the dental college. You know, I've heard from others the same thing you said...that they tried lunch and dinner and it wasn't that good. I wouldn't know because we always go there for breakfast. And I believe they serve breakfast all day. We love it. But I understand, if you had just a so so experience there before, it's hard to go back.

I plan our vacations similarly. Being a family on a budget, I do a lot of research to find things we can afford and love to find cheap or even free things that we'd enjoy to help keep costs down. The last two times we've gone to TN, we rented a cabin, which was a big portion of our expenses. But it worked out great because it's private and gives us our own kitchen, which keeps us from having to eat out every night. We enjoy hiking, so a lot of our time was spent doing that.

I've only ever passed through Asheville. Once upon a time, I was in the military stationed in S.C. and drove through Asheville on my trips to & from IL. While vacationing in TN, we did drive up the mountain on 441 to Clingmans Dome. I had wanted to go back down the other side into N.C. just for the scenery, but we kept putting it off for another time. Hopefully we'll get back down that way before too long.

Well, fall is finally here and it won't be long before the leaves begin to change. Hope you have a great trip.

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Asheville
Asheville
North Carolina Mountains, NC
Tombstone, Arizona
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9. Re: Happenings around Alton, Grafton and Elsa in October

Illinois: Well, good to hear from you. Gatlinburg is a busy area and if you have any questions about that area for lodging, restaurants and anything at all that you feel you would like asking, do it on that forum and those folks that FREQUENTLY post therein will answer every question. There is a gent called goldrushjunkie who works for the site and he has good info as do a lot of those who frequent the area. So, if you are in the planning stage, and I know what that is being a solo in my travels, plan it by going to the GB site on these forums and ask away.

Made my resv's last week for up your way, will be there for a couple of days and then head down to the GSMNP for the first week of Nov. Their leaves are already beginning to change in the higher ups, there is a site for viewing this and it is available on line. There is one also for the BlueRidgeParkway.com and it is loaded with info on the Parkway. Also if you belong to AAA, they have info there on the area.

Well, hope your travels are safe, the weather always cooperate, and all your visit far exceed your expectations.

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Illinois
Illinois
United States
Gatlinburg
Gatlinburg
Sevier County, TN
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