I’ll be the first to admit, 2020 may not have been the best year to retire if your plan was to travel extensively. And that was my plan. And even though we are still in the pandemic, it was time to start venturing outside of my small bubble.
Instead of hopping on a plane or driving for hours to get somewhere, I wanted to start exploring the area I have lived my whole life and find fun things to do. I guess my point is living in Central Illinois doesn’t have to suck! There are lots of things to do and explore, you just have to be open to it.
First stop was Chatham to hit up Sangamo Brewing for some grub. I love this place! I have never had a bad meal there, and it is just a real gem. If you love craft beer this is the place. If you love a great beer garden, this is the place. If you love great food … well, you get it. If you have not tried it I highly recommend taking the drive to Chatham to try it out. The quesadillas are sooooo goooood!
After lunch we ventured south on Route 4 to Auburn, then Route 104 to Waverly, and finally south on Route 111. Our destination was Wild Pickens Winery, which is technically between Chesterfield and Medora. It will take you about an hour to get there from Chatham. Sit back and enjoy the ride!
I had driven by Wild Pickens Winery several times coming home from St. Louis but had never stopped, even though I was very intrigued. The winery is located in the country, and it is a really pretty setting. I would usually be driving by on a Sunday, and it always looked like they had a huge crowd. We were visiting on a Thursday so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. They have a big dining room and a huge outside area. They make their own wine, but they also serve other wines as well, as well as beer. As we were leaving, Todd, the owner, came out to introduce himself. What a nice guy! He’s living the dream right now, so go out and support him! They have music most Saturdays and Sundays, so if you go, get there early.
We decided to head north on Route 111 and stop at Vixen Hill Winery in Palmyra. Vixen Hill Winery is located one mile off of Route 111 on Palmyra Road. It will take you about a half an hour to get there from Wild Pickens Winery.
I have been to Vixen Hill Winery a couple of times … very nice people own and work at the winery, which makes it easy to come back! They make their own wine there, and we shared a bottle out on the patio. Since it was a Thursday we had the place to ourselves. They usually have music on the weekends. Another great place that is not very far from Springfield.
We headed back towards Auburn to stop at a couple of places that I love – Bewitching Botanicals and Slauterhouse Brewery. If you have not been to Bewitching Botanicals – go there! The owner makes a lot of the products herself – face soaps, body polishes, shampoos, conditioners, bath bombs, etc. Way too many to list here! All made from natural, sustainable ingredients. The rest of the store is stocked with tons of unique products – let me just say you have to go see it! Go, go, go!
After shopping we met the guys down at Slauterhouse Brewery. It is located in a former meatpacking plant, hence the name (very clever). The beer is fanatastic – soooo good. The very nice people working behind the bar will help you decide what to order, or you can order a flight. Very cute patio set-up, and they usually have music on the weekends.
After this, we headed back to Chatham and Springfield – but what a fun day with great company! More fun local trips coming!