BN’s Outlying Communities
McLean County is the largest county by land in the state of Illinois and is home to 19 towns and villages. Bloomington-Normal might be the biggest community in the county, but all of our outlying communities offer fun and exciting events, attractions and restaurants that visitors can enjoy year-round.
Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup in Shirley has been producing the most delicious maple syrup in Illinois since 1824. Like many other businesses, Funks Grove Pure Maple Sirup grew to depend on the steady stream of customers that Route 66 brought to its door. Today, the syrup farm at Funks Grove remains a favorite stop among Route 66 travelers. Guided tours of the grounds are offered during the syrup-making season and showcase the Funk family process. Funks Pure Maple Sirup and other Funks products can be purchased at the on-site store. A few miles from Funks Grove is the Funk Prairie Home and Gem & Mineral Museum, a Civil War-era home that provides visitors with a glimpse into the past. While there, guests can view the gem and mineral collection of LaFayette Funk II.
The Mother Road also flows through Lexington, Illinois. It’s home to Memory Lane, a one-mile stretch of Route 66 that can be walked year-round and is open to vehicular traffic during festivals. It has also been restored with vintage billboard and Burma Shave signs. Newer attractions include Thrift Avenue, which sells Route 66 merchandise, furniture, home décor and antiques, and Kelly’s on 66, a family restaurant that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Comlara Park in Hudson is a large, nature recreation area that’s perfect for biking, hunting and picnicking. Visitors can rent paddle boats on the lake or camp on one of its numerous campgrounds.
In Towanda, visitors can learn more about Route 66 at “A Geographical Journey” Parkway, a 1.6-mile section of the Mother Road that is lined with educational kiosks, and at Dead Man’s Curve, a dangerous bend where many accidents occurred by speeding travelers. Kick’s Bar & Grill serves famous Route 66 road food.
The tasting rooms at Sunset Lake Vineyards and Winery in Carlock boast a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere where friends and family can gather for a fun and relaxing experience. The wrap-around porch offers visitors wonderful views of the vineyards and the countryside.
Twin Groves Wind Farm is located on two moraines in eastern McLean County and has an installed capacity of 396 megawatts; that’s enough to power 140,000 homes! Tours of the farm are available to the public and begin at the Twin Groves Lookout Visitor Area.
Our outlying communities are also filled with history. Matthew T. Scott founded the town of Chenoa in 1855 and his home is open to the public and available for tours. The Empire Township Museum in Le Roy is dedicated to preserving the town’s history. It contains several exhibits, murals and a children’s corner. In Heyworth, the Simpkins Military History Museum displays the private collection of Gary Simpkins, a veteran of the Vietnam War who collected military uniforms, weapons and other memorabilia, and in McLean, Arcadia: America’s Playable Arcade Museum is filled with a large collection of arcade games from the 80s that people of all ages can play.
Festivals are abundant in our outlying communities. Heyworth HeyDays is a family-friendly event, complete with carnival rides, games and live music. The three-day Stanford Good Old Days Festival has a dazzling display of fireworks and antique booths. Danvers Days offers a fun-filled weekend with live entertainment, bingo, a carnival and a bags tournament.