Founded by Joe Estes as a nonprofit operation, Safari Joe's Reptile World provides a 200-acre sanctuary for more than 250 exotic animals—including lions, leopards, alligators, pythons, and large tortoises—that were unwanted, abused, or neglected. Each week, five to six new animals are donated or abandoned at the facility. Though these animals cannot return to the wild, they receive nurturing care from a cadre of more than 30 volunteers.
While newly abandoned animals remain hidden from view within the sanctuary, the park also boasts exhibit such as Reptile World. This educational, hands-on environment encourages visitors to interact with a slew of exotic animals while learning about protecting each species and their natural habitats.
Jack Spears and his sons David and Austin want people to love the Illinois River as much as they do, so they placed their resort's expansive camping, RV, and cabin grounds on the bank in positions that allow boarders to appreciate the scenery year-round. In the summer, their General Store's ice-cream fountain pours nonstop as river-goers take a rest in the shop's shade. The resort boasts year-round security to preserve campers' gear and scare off loitering snowmen in the winter. The staff also doles out dry goods, supplies, and groceries to campers or families staying in the manors of Pine Valley Retreat throughout the year.
As visitors to The White Rose turn down the property's drive, they're instantly transported to a simpler time: on the left, a lush lawn sprawls before a house not yet visible, and on the right, rows upon rows of grapes keep rank to form a four-acre vineyard. Twisting around the bend, then, the house appears, with its elaborate porch, elegant columns, and white limestone reminiscent of Ireland's "penny walls."
Built in 1900, the home preserves its fair share of history, and today, it bridges the gap between generations by keeping its door open to guests. Four of the house's rooms serve as bed and breakfast getaways, each outfitted with antique furniture and decorative accents. The estate also churns out its own wine with an intricate, handcrafted process, which it shares with visitors during tastings in the parlor.