Best & Fun Things To Do + Places To Visit In Sterling, Illinois

Spread the love!

Sterling, Illinois: Where Fun and Adventure Collide – The Best Places to Visit and Things to Do!

Welcome to Sterling, Illinois! If you’re looking for a fun and exciting destination for your next vacation, look no further than this charming city in the heart of the Midwest. With a rich history, beautiful outdoor spaces, and plenty of family-friendly activities, Sterling has something for everyone.

The Sterling Experience is all about exploring the city’s unique blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities. Take a stroll through the historic downtown area, where you’ll find boutique shops, art galleries, and delicious restaurants serving up local specialties. If you’re interested in history, be sure to check out the Dillon Home Museum, which offers fascinating insights into the lives of Sterling’s early settlers.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Sterling has plenty of options to choose from. Take a hike through the beautiful Sinnissippi Park, which offers stunning views of the Rock River and a variety of trails for hiking and biking. Or, head out to the Hennepin Canal Feeder Bike Trail, where you can explore the scenic beauty of the Illinois countryside on two wheels. And if you’re traveling with kids, be sure to check out the local splash pad or nearby water parks for some family fun in the sun.

Key Takeaways

  • Sterling, Illinois offers a unique blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities.
  • Visitors can explore the city’s rich history at the Dillon Home Museum and enjoy beautiful outdoor spaces like Sinnissippi Park and the Hennepin Canal Feeder Bike Trail.
  • Families will love the local splash pad and nearby water parks for some fun in the sun.

The Sterling Experience

Welcome to Sterling, Illinois – the city where the corn is high, and the fun is even higher! This charming town in the United States is the perfect destination for a tour that you’ll never forget.

Start your Sterling experience by visiting the Dillon Home Museum. This historic site is a must-see for anyone interested in the city’s rich history. Take a tour and learn about the family that once lived in this beautiful home. The Curator Erin is fantastic and will make your tour worthwhile.

If you’re looking for a more adventurous activity, head to Sinnissippi Park. This park is a great place to take a stroll, with its scenic path along the river. You can also walk in the woods to Woodlawn Arts Academy. The park has several sports fields and picnic areas, making it a great place to spend the day with your family.

For a unique experience, visit the North Sterling Reservoir State Park. This human-made impoundment along the South Platte River is just a few minutes north of town. You can enjoy a variety of water activities such as swimming, fishing, and boating. If you prefer to stay on land, there are several hiking trails to explore.

If you’re looking for some indoor activities, Sterling has got you covered. Check out the Fun & Games category on Tripadvisor to find the perfect activity for you. You can also visit the Sterling Theater for a movie night or take a class at the Woodlawn Arts Academy.

Sterling is a city that has something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or just having a good time, you’ll find it here. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for the Sterling experience of a lifetime!

Historical Highlights

If you’re a history buff, Sterling, Illinois, has plenty of interesting sites to visit. From museums to historical societies, you’ll find plenty of ways to learn about the area’s past.

Dillon Home Museum

The Dillon Home Museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in local history. Built in 1858, this Italianate-style mansion was once home to one of Sterling’s most prominent families. Today, it’s open to the public and offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.

Inside the museum, you’ll find a wealth of artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of Sterling’s early days. From antique furniture to vintage clothing, there’s something here for everyone. Be sure to take a guided tour to learn more about the home’s history and the family that once lived there.

Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society

Another great resource for local history is the Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society. This organization is dedicated to preserving the area’s heritage and offers a wide range of programs and events throughout the year.

One of the society’s most interesting projects is the restoration of the historic Lincoln-Manahan Home. This beautiful Italianate-style mansion was built in 1860 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it serves as the society’s headquarters and is open to the public for tours.

Northwestern Steel and Wire

Finally, no discussion of Sterling’s history would be complete without mentioning Northwestern Steel and Wire. This company played a major role in the area’s development, employing thousands of people over the years and helping to build Sterling into the thriving city it is today.

While the company is no longer in operation, its legacy lives on. Today, you can visit the site of the former steel mill and see the massive blast furnaces and other industrial equipment that once powered the plant. It’s a fascinating look at one of Sterling’s most important industries.

Whether you’re interested in architecture, local history, or just want to learn something new, Sterling has plenty to offer. So why not plan a visit today and see it all for yourself?

Outdoor Adventures

If you’re looking for some outdoor fun in Sterling, Illinois, you’re in luck! There are plenty of options for outdoor activities that will get you out in the fresh air and sunshine.

Hennepin Canal

The Hennepin Canal is a great place to start your outdoor adventure. This historic waterway is perfect for a bike ride or a leisurely stroll. You can also fish in the canal, or rent a canoe and explore the waterway from a different perspective.

Rock River

The Rock River is another great option for outdoor activities. You can hike along the river, fish for smallmouth bass, or just relax and enjoy the scenery. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even rent a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard and explore the river on your own.

Sinnissippi Park

Sinnissippi Park is a beautiful park that offers a variety of recreational activities. You can hike the trails, have a picnic in one of the many picnic areas, or just relax and enjoy the scenery. The park also has shelters that you can rent for events, so it’s a great place to host a family reunion or a company picnic.

Crow Valley Campground

If you’re looking for a place to camp, look no further than Crow Valley Campground. This beautiful campground is located on the banks of the Mississippi River, and offers a variety of camping options, including tent camping, RV camping, and cabin rentals. The campground also has plenty of recreational activities, including hiking trails, fishing, and boating.

No matter what outdoor adventure you choose to embark on in Sterling, Illinois, you’re sure to have a great time. So grab your sunscreen, your hiking boots, and your sense of adventure, and get ready to explore all that this beautiful town has to offer!

Family Fun

Looking for some family-friendly activities in Sterling, Illinois? Look no further! This small town has plenty of fun things to do for all ages. Here are a few of our top picks:

Sinnissippi Park Playground

Get ready to swing, slide, and climb your way through Sinnissippi Park Playground. This retro playground is a blast from the past, with classic equipment that will take you back to your own childhood. Your little ones will love running around and exploring all the different parts of the playground. And parents, don’t be afraid to join in on the fun! Just make sure you don’t get stuck in the tube slide.

Sterling Park District Waterparks

When the weather heats up, cool down at one of Sterling Park District’s waterparks. With two locations to choose from, you can’t go wrong. Splash Valley Aquatic Park has a lazy river, water slides, and a splash pad for the little ones. Meanwhile, Westwood Park Aquatic Center has a diving board, water basketball, and a vortex pool. So pack up your sunscreen and towels and get ready to make a splash!

Drive-In Theatre

Looking for a unique movie experience? Check out the Midway Drive-In Theatre. This retro drive-in has been around since 1950 and is still going strong. Load up the car with blankets and snacks and settle in for a double feature. And if you’re feeling extra nostalgic, be sure to tune in to the radio station playing oldies during intermission. It’s the perfect way to spend a summer evening with the family.

So there you have it – three fun and family-friendly activities to check out in Sterling, Illinois. Whether you’re swinging at Sinnissippi Park, splashing at the waterparks, or catching a movie at the drive-in, you’re sure to make some great memories.

Local Delights

When you’re in Sterling, Illinois, you’re in for a treat. The city is home to some of the best local delights that will make your taste buds dance with joy. Here are some of the must-visit places that will make your trip to Sterling a memorable one.

Fresh Produce Markets

If you’re a fan of fresh produce, you’re in luck. Sterling has some of the best farmers’ markets in the state. You can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to homemade jams and jellies. The markets are a great place to stock up on healthy snacks for your trip or to buy ingredients for a picnic lunch. Be sure to check out the Dixon Farmers’ Market and the Whiteside County Farmers’ Market.


Kelly’s is the place to be if you’re looking for a good time. This local bar and grill has been a favorite of Sterling residents for years. The bar has a great selection of beers and a menu that will make your mouth water. You can’t go wrong with the Kelly Burger or the Philly Cheesesteak. And if you’re feeling adventurous, try the Deep-Fried Pickles. You won’t be disappointed.

Haunted Sterling

If you’re into spooky stuff, you have to check out Haunted Sterling. This ghost tour takes you to some of the most haunted places in the city. You’ll hear stories about the ghosts that haunt the Sterling Opera House and the Old City Hall. The tour is a fun way to learn about the city’s history and get a good scare at the same time. Just be sure to bring a friend to hold onto when things get spooky.

So, there you have it. Whether you’re looking for fresh produce, a good time, or a spooky adventure, Sterling has something for everyone. Don’t miss out on these local delights.

Practical Information


Looking for more information about Sterling, IL? Look no further than the city’s official website, Here, you can find all sorts of helpful resources, including information about city services, local events, and more. Plus, the website is surprisingly easy to navigate, so you won’t have to spend hours sifting through pages just to find what you’re looking for.

Resident Information

If you’re planning on staying in Sterling for an extended period of time, you might be interested in learning more about what it’s like to live there. Fortunately, the city’s website has a whole section dedicated to information for residents. Here, you can find everything from utility information to details about local schools. And if you have any questions that aren’t answered on the website, don’t be afraid to reach out to city officials for more information.


Need to get in touch with someone in Sterling? Whether you’re looking to ask a question, report a problem, or just say hello, there are plenty of ways to get in touch. You can find a list of contact information for various city departments on the website. Alternatively, you can reach out to local officials on social media or via email. Just remember to be polite and respectful when you do!

That’s all for this section. We know, it was a little dry, but sometimes you just need the practical information. Now, let’s get back to the fun stuff!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best way to spend a weekend in Sterling, IL?

Ah, the age-old question. Well, lucky for you, Sterling has plenty of options to make your weekend memorable. Start your day with a cup of coffee at the iconic Twin City Cafe. Then, head over to Sinnissippi Park for a peaceful walk along the river. If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a kayak and explore the Rock River. In the evening, catch a show at the Sterling Theater, a beautifully restored historic theater that’s been around since 1924.

Are there any hidden gems in Sterling or nearby towns?

You betcha! If you’re a fan of antiques, head over to Showplace Antiques & Treasures. It’s a treasure trove of unique finds that will transport you back in time. Another hidden gem is the Dillon Home Museum. It’s a beautifully preserved Victorian mansion that will take your breath away. And if you’re willing to venture out of Sterling, make sure to check out the charming town of Dixon, just a 20-minute drive away.

What are some must-see attractions in Sterling, IL?

Sterling has plenty of attractions that are worth checking out. One of the most popular is the Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society Museum. It’s a great place to learn about the history of the town and the surrounding area. Another must-see attraction is the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, located just a short drive away in Dixon. And if you’re a fan of the great outdoors, make sure to visit Sinnissippi Park and the Hennepin Canal Parkway.

Where can I find the best food in Sterling, IL?

Well, that’s a tough one. Sterling has plenty of great options when it comes to food. If you’re in the mood for pizza, head over to Angelo’s Pizzeria. Their pizza is out of this world. If you’re looking for something a bit fancier, try out the Candlelight Inn. Their steaks are top-notch. And if you’re in the mood for some classic American fare, check out the Deer Valley Golf Club. Their burgers are some of the best in town.

Is there anything quirky or unique about Sterling, IL?

Absolutely! Did you know that Sterling is home to the world’s largest pencil? It’s true! The giant pencil stands at 32 feet tall and can be found at the Dixon Welcome Center, just a short drive away. And if you’re a fan of quirky roadside attractions, make sure to check out the “World’s Largest Covered Wagon” in nearby Lincoln, IL.

What’s the history behind the Dillon Home Museum in Sterling?

The Dillon Home Museum is a beautifully preserved Victorian mansion that was built in 1858 by Judge Joseph Dillon. The home has been restored to its original grandeur and is now open to the public for tours. The museum is a great place to learn about the history of Sterling and the surrounding area, as well as the life of the Dillon family. Fun fact: The home was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.

Spread the love!

Scroll to Top