With almost 58,000 square miles, Illinois certainly has a lot to offer. While it’s easy to check out the same sites time and time again it’s always great to visit some of the small towns to really get a feel for what makes Illinois and its great residents tick. Enjoy getting out into the open air and take in the sites of these towns that might be small but have big Illinois heart.
This Henry County town boasts a cozy population of around 193. The Village of Hooppole offers all of 0.34 square miles, in which a lumber & grain company, a farm supply business, the city office, fire department and a Methodist church all reside. On June 27th Hooppole Fun Day occurs, with a parade to kick things off in the morning followed by activities in the park for the whole family.
2. Grand Tower
With 1.253 square miles, this Jackson County town of 624 enjoys beautiful views of the Mississippi River. The first settlers of this town were river pirates that found this haven after being driven out of Tower Rock. Of course, the US Army dragoons took down these outlaws in 1803. Before it was Grand Tower this town was also known as La Tour, Jenkins Landing, Evans’ Landing and Cochran’s Woodyard Landing.
Nestled in Christian and Montgomery counties, this 223-resident hamlet is established on only 0.7 square miles. John Harvel, a well-known Civil War veteran, founded this village in 1872. Some of the first settlers of Harvel were of German, French and English descent and came from the eastern portion of the US. Ray Schalk, a Chicago White Sox catcher in the '50s, called Harvel his hometown.
4. La Fayette
Locally pronounced “Lay-fee-yet”, this Stark County village is home to around 223 Illinoisans. This little town only offers 0.19 square miles was established by Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and military officer that was involved in the American Revolutionary War.
5. Saint Johns
Within Perry County is this town with about 218 residents. Despite the fact that Saint Johns is an established village, anyone who calls Saint Johns their home has a Du Quoin street address. In 2013, the median gross rent in Saint Johns was $410, making it a great place in Illinois to find affordable dwellings.
Snuggled in Pike County, this 216-resident town is known for being the site where the Kinderhook plates were found. These six brass plates with special engravings were found in 1843 in an Indian mound near Kinderhook. If you want to get away from it all and enjoy a retreat into the country then stay a night at the Kinderhook Lodge, the town’s very own bed and breakfast and hunting lodge. Not only will you get a cozy place to hang your hat but you’ll also get a home cooked meal.
With 1.04 square feet and about 216 residents (as of 2013), this Washington County village was named for the east-central Polish city, where many of the first settlers of the town were originally from. Polish was the predominant language spoken in this Illinois town before English was introduced to Radom in the 1950s via television. Today, you can head over to this Illinois town for a pint and pizza at the old-fashioned Malawy’s Tavern (residents brag about their pizza and that’s good enough for us!).
Illinois Route 78 passes through a portion of this 209-inhabitant town. Despite only having about 179 acres, this town still boasts a supper club and a BBQ and steak house. E.B. Harris, the president of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange from the 1950s-1970s, also called this little Fulton County town home.
Just take a drive down County Road 6 in Calhoun County and you’ll find the little picturesque town with its Winfield Ferry and two wildlife refuges. This town of around 214 residents certainly had quite a few names before settling on this one. It was first named Richwoods before becoming Batchelderville. Once this town got its own post office in 1879, the town was changed to Batchtown (certainly a much easier name to address on a letter). If you enjoy being surrounded by nature and want a scenic experience through the Blue Ridge Bluffs then you’ll want to check out Batchtown.
If you love history then you’ll definitely want to check out this quaint Hardin County town near the Ohio River. With around 348 dwellers, Elizabethtown boasts the Rose Hotel, a popular historic site that was built back in the early 1800s. While taking in the rich history of this Illinois town stay a night in the beautiful River Rose Inn, a Greek Revival mansion that offers stunning views of the river near Shawnee National Forest.
While boasting more people than the other towns, this Kane County village of around 618 was founded in 1906. While it is certainly considered a small town it is a growing and expanding rural home with parks, hiking trails and lots of wide, open space to enjoy a breath of fresh air. Then grab a bite at Burlington’s only steakhouse, Art and Alma’s Century Inn.
Have you ever checked out any of these awesomely quaint little towns? Have recommendations for delicious restaurants, must-see sights or fun events that we should check out? We want to hear all about it in the comments section.