The Great River Road beginning in Alton, IL runs along the Mississippi River where you can start by seeing the Alton Lock & Dam in action, drive West toward the small town of Grafton, home to only about 700, that boast its own traffic jams during Fall weekends when the trees along the bluffs are changing. Numerous hidden away spots along the River Road including Principia College in Elsah, Chatauqua, and many others. Following your stop in Grafton, where you find many great restaraunts and bars to check out, drive West toward Pere Marquette State Park which is chock full of hidden places to relax, reflect or enjoy a horseback ride along its trails.
Oh, and you might like knowing that Bald Eagles are often spotted from mid January thru March as they spend their winters along the riverfront. If you've never seen one in the wild, they are really impressive creatures.