Escape to Kankakee County!
Lose yourself in the natural beauty of the Kankakee River and Kankakee River State Park, you won't be disappointed.
Kankakee County’s heritage is rich with agricultural history—and as a result is one of the best destinations for agri-tourism in the entire state of Illinois. The county is rich in farms, and the farmers are rich with stories. Here in Kankakee County, our local farms aren’t off limits to visit; many of them open their doors to visitors in a variety of ways. Here’s a look at some of the best ways to get an insider’s look at Kankakee County’s farming culture—and to take home some of the best, farm-fresh products you’ll find outside of Chicago.
Grab the Camera, Tour the Countryside: The Story Behind Our Barn Quilts
Take a trip through downtown Austin, Texas, and you’ll see a colorfully painted guitar on every other corner. In Kansas City or Chicago, colorful cows dot the landscape for a period of time before they’re donated at auction for charity. Most destinations have some sort of defining sculpture or art series that says something about the area’s past, celebrated in the present.
In Kankakee County, that artistic tradition has taken shape in the form of 8 foot by 8 foot wooden blocks painted to look like quilted blankets. They adorn historic barns and corncribs throughout the county. Each quilt has its its own geometric shape-and-color combination, giving each farm a one-of-a-kind identity. The barn quilts are, in so many ways, beautiful pieces of art that can be captured by passersby. During your visit to the country, go on a Barn Quilts Driving Tour to see all the prominent barns in the area, and learn the stories and significance behind each barn’s signature art piece.
Grab a Bag, Hit the Market: Fresh Produce Abounds in Kankakee County
Kankakee County was one of those destinations that specialized in local, farm-fresh produce produced in small quantities before it became a trend. And you can take home lots of the area’s local produce and specialty goods at area farmers’ markets. The Kankakee Farmers’ Market, ranked by @illinoisonly as one of the top 10 in the entire state, has earned its rightful, positive recognition because of its fantastic vendors, fun events like outdoor yoga sessions, live concerts, wonderful produce and more. It features fun things to do for kids, too, like a science activity tent. This market is held every Saturday from April through October.
Other popular farmers markets’ include Manteno Farmers’ Market (held every Tuesday), Momence Farmers’ Market (every Wednesday) and Grant Park Farmers’ Market (every Tuesday). Because many of the markets are held on different days of the week, it’s possible to do some local shopping during the summer almost anytime you visit.
Grab the Kids, Stop and Smell the Flowers: Visit Woldhuis Farms Sunrise Greenhouse
Immerse yourself in a natural marvel surrounded by millions of colorful flowers with Woldhuis Farms Sunrise Greenhouse, which is actually a series of greenhouses taking up 220,000 square feet of space with an additional 3-acre wide outdoor garden featuring all sorts of flowers. Here, you can look at plants for sale ranging from perennials, herbs and hanging baskets to trees and shrubs. You can also purchase artistic pottery and gardening tools at Sunrise. Woldhuis Farms Sunrise Greenhouse is run by a fourth-generation owner (dating back to the 1960s) and continues to expand its space every few years. Whether you’re visiting to stock up on plants for your home or looking to spend your day surrounded by natural beauty, this greenhouse stop will not disappoint.
Grab Your Boots, Get Outside: Tour Tamblyn Family Farm
Head to Tamblyn Family Farm in Manteno to see local livestock, including chickens, pigs, sheep and more. The farm takes pride in its free-range eggs and pasture-raised heritage breed pork—specialties that allow you to take home the freshest ingredients and cuts of meat. Other farm-raised products include ground pork, ham steak, shoulder roast and homemade lard. You can see these free roaming animals on the farm, and you can extend a visit by staying overnight at the farmhouse that doubles as an Airbnb accommodation.
Grab a Date, Head to Dinner: Farm to Fork at Locavore Farm
In Grant Park, Locavore Farm sits on a picturesque five-acre property and is currently used to host some of the best outdoor dinner parties in the Chicago area. On select nights, dozens of guests have the opportunity to gather on a 100-foot wood table in the garden and enjoy meals made from ingredients and meats directly sourced from farms within a 10-mile radius. Attend this local dining experience where, before sunset, your children can play in the field while you admire the free roaming chickens grazing on the sun-dappled property. As night falls, enjoy a homemade dinner under the patio lights and delight in the authentic farmland view.
Read more about the area’s farms and agri-tourism opportunities on our website here.