Coastin’ with the Kids

Michael, Allie, Betty and Dan standing on the Grafton Ferrry

We recently got to spend the whole day with Michael and Allie, my son and daughter-in-law. And it was a keeper for the good ole memory book of great days and happy times.

Our day was set with perfect fall weather for a short trip to nearby Grafton, Illinois. Grafton is a little river town on the Mississippi, right near the confluence of three rivers. The leaves were near their peak with the sun shining, making the leaves bright and cheerful.

The Grafton Ferry with three United States flags flying.

We started the day by heading to the Grafton Ferry. The Grafton Ferry is about twelve miles, nineteen minutes from our home. It turns out we weren’t the only ones who had a good idea on this day. The line of cars to get on the ferry was long, but our wait wasn’t. The ferry can hold fifteen cars. Before we knew it, we were on the other side.

Back on land, not too far from the ferry landing is the Grafton SkyTour. The Grafton SkyTour is owned by Aerie’s Resort & Winery. We took the SkyTour with Danny and Jenn, back in December 2019, shortly after it had opened.

The SkyTour offers open chair lifts or an enclosed gondola to ride to the top of the bluff. For our way up, we chose the open chairs. It was chilly, but not too cold. The view was fantastic, as always, but this day we enjoyed the added splendor of spectacular fall foliage.

Allie and Michael on the Sky Tour
There they go!
Tree with yellow fall foliage
Fall Splendor

Once at the top, we walked the half mile trail through the trees, past little cabins to the lookout point. There we climbed a lookout tower, but only one at a time. There was a sign posted which said the structure had a weight limit of 300 pounds.

Michael climbing up the Look Out Tower
Michael climbing up the Lookout Tower.
View from the Lookout Tower
Michael on the swing waving one hand.

Some swings could also be found around the lookout tower, and Michael gave me my first, and maybe my only ever, “underdoggie.”

In case you don’t know, an “underdoggie” is when the person pushing someone on a swing pushes them hard enough and high enough to run under the swing before letting go. This results in the person on the swing going really high and swinging really fast. It was crazy wild and fast, but our day was not over yet. More of the same was yet to come. And soon.

On our walk back, we enjoyed a hoop lawn game, and we stopped in the winery, so we could enjoy the expansive view from its outside deck. With Grafton being the popular choice for the day, the wait to eat was more than an hour.

Allie throwing a ring toss.
Allie got the first ringer!
Michael throwing a ring toss, but from the other direction.  The Lookout Tower is in the background.
Michael got one, too!

It just so happened that another, new attraction, the Grafton Alpine Coaster, had just opened. According to the Aerie’s Resort website, the coaster has “4,000 feet of track, 7 hair-pin turns, and 8 waves/twisters.” Since Dan gets motion sickness, he chose to wait for us, but I was all in. While no reservations can be made in advance, I certainly had mine. But I went anyway. If you get my drift.

Michael, Allie and I waited our turn, and before long we were each seated in our own coaster sled. We rode down the track, through the colorful fall leaves at roller coaster speeds. It was an exhilarating experience! Now, this alpine coaster is “rider controlled” (to a degree), and can be slowed down by pulling up on the brakes. I am proud to say, I did not brake. Not. At. All. I am living life to the fullest!

Michael took a short video of his ride. How he took it while racing down the track, I don’t know. But give it a watch if you’d like to live life to the fullest – while being online.

The alpine coaster brings you back where the whole thing started. So, we met up with Dan and rode the SkyTour back down the bluff. This time, we chose an enclosed gondola where we could all sit together.

Michael and Allie in a gondola
Michael and Allie
Betty and Dan in a gondola
Betty and Dan

Back at the bottom, we took the ferry across the river, back home to St. Charles County. Our special day with Michael and Allie was just about over. We had a freaky fast stop at Jimmie Johns to grab some dinner before taking them to the airport for their flight home.

Allie, Michael and Betty standing on the ferry heading back home.
Heading Back Home

It was a wonderful day, but just like the Grafton Alpine Coaster – it went by really fast!

Michael looking out at the view with the Mississippi River in the background.


  1. What a fantastic day with family. So glad you had such an awesome day. Time with family and friends are always so special and create such precious memories. Not once did you brake, hey, that’s truly a Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious moment. I’m with you, life is meant to be lived to the fullest, each and every moment. May your life be full of many more of these special days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it was! There is also a zip line as part of Aerie’s. And up the river road a bit is a water park. We wanted to eat at the Loading Dock, outside on the river, but we ran out of time. I also like to attend the once a month flea market there, too. During the holidays, the flea market is turned into an ice skating rink. I really enjoy visiting Grafton, and it is so pretty in the Fall. Thanks for your comment, and have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. They look happy. Looks and sounds like an amazing day. Also, sounds like a place my husband and kiddo and I would like. We haven’t been to IL in a while. I’ll put that on our weekend travel list. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It was a good day. There is also a zip line, apple picking, and Pere Marquette State Park – which has hiking and a lodge. There is also a bike trail from the park to Grafton. The bike trail continues to Alton, but some of it is on the busy road. There is a flea market during the warmer part of the year which is open one weekend per month. It’s a fun little river town!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, David. That line came straight out of the experience. 🙂 It was really fun, and the foliage was glorious. The coaster is open all year, but I think riding it in the fall may be the best time. Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it was a wonderful day. The ride was exhilarating! Of course, there was a waiver to sign first. The waiver was on a electronic tablet. Hope you have a great day!


    • You know, the one thing I messed up on this day – I didn’t take any pictures of the coaster. I gave Dan my phone, and the coaster is entered through a building, so he couldn’t come and take pictures for me. I wish I would have asked Michael to take some pictures, but I was kind of scared, so I didn’t think of it! I guess that just means I have to go again. 🙂 You are right; Autumn is a great time to visit Grafton.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fun day you had with your son and daughter-in-law. When I traveled with my husband on his consulting project with Boeing in St Louis, we drove over to Alton to eat a a little hole in the wall place (can’t remember the name), and it seems we drove on up to Grafton just for grins. What a beautiful area! Loved your pictures and story. And video!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so glad that you took the time to drive to Grafton. It’s one of my favorite areas close to home for a day trip. There is a state park nearby – Pere Marquette. It is a beautiful park; however, there are not full hook ups. Thanks for taking the time to catch up on my posts! I appreciate it and your kind comments very much. Enjoy your day!

      Liked by 1 person

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