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Southern Illinois

Jaw dropping natural beauty, palette pleasing wine and Beatle George Harrison's secret vacation hideaway:  The Road Trip uncovers surprising Southern Illinois!

View "Wild" Video Outakes

Welcome to the part of the State that definitely is not flat, prairie or plain.  Get on board with the Road Trip as Ben discovers the amazing story of Beatle George Harrison's 1963 vacation in Benton, IL (also home of actor John Malkovich and basketball legend Doug Collins).  He gets the scoop at the Hard Day's Nite Bed and Breakfast and hangs with George's sister Louise Harrison, who still lives in town.  Then it's on to the Shawnee National Forest's Garden of the Gods for eye-popping scenery and, for Ben, a new perspective on his home State,  (By the way, George went camping here on his vacation - see if you can retrace his steps!)  The journey concludes with yet another wild surprise: wine country!  It's the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail boasting the truly impressive Blue Sky Vineyard. While reveling in the bacchanalia you'll swear you're under the Tuscan sky, and not three miles from former Senator Paul Simon's hometown of Makanda and the water tower that bears his bow-tied resemblance.  Please drink responsibly.

George Harrison Pilgrimage to Benton, IL
Hard Day's Nite Bed and Breakfast
201 West Park Street
Benton, Illinois 62812-1932
(618) 438-2328

It makes sense that the Quiet Beatle loved this sleepy little town and tranquil surroundings.  Start your tour with a sleepover at The Hard Day's Night Bed and Breakfast where George stayed while visiting his sister Louise in September 1963, five months before the Beatles' first U.S, appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Jim or Dorothy can fill you in on all the places George visited including the Boneyard Bocce Ball Club and VFW Hall in nearby Eldorado.  And if your Beatle habit requires something stronger, check out the Liverpool Legends website to see where the lads will be playing next.  (Louise Harrison manages the Beatle tribute band featuring her "brother" Marty Scott channeling the part of George.) 
Read more in Ben's Blog

Garden of the Gods and Rim Rock,
Shawnee National Forest
Near Harrisburg, IL

Here's where getting back to nature can be a religious experience.  No kidding, the natural beauty here knocked our socks off and we're still looking for 'em.  As ranger Jeff Seefeldt said, we only just scratched the surface of what's available within the Forest.  So get down here and see for yourself.  You'll never see Illinois the same way again. 

Blue Sky Vineyard
On the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail
Makanda, IL
(618) 995-WINE

You needn't go to Napa to have a "Sideways" experience all your own.  Blue Sky is the newest vineyard on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail and the only one with a 400-year-old Tuscan villa replica where you can actually spend the night.  Pay them a visit and join the party.  Check out Ben's Blog to read about the weird circumstances surrounding the videotaping of this story.

Hidden Lake Bed and Breakfast
Jonesboro, IL
(618) 833-5252

Let's not forget our gourmet breakfast and awesome view of the hummingbirds in the garden.  Mary Jo and John Smith, Chicago refugees, are the perfect hosts.  Check out their website for terrific local information.

Ben appreciates some
grapes at the vineyard

The Liverpool Legends

Garden of the Gods

Blue Sky Vineyard

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