Best Of 2004

Best Scenic Drive: Route 100 from Alton to Grafton, Illinois

The portion of Highway 100 that stretches from Alton to Grafton all but unlocks the land. There are sailboats here. Sailboats? Yep, although this is the river, it's the bend. And where there's a bend, baby, there's transport. At the underrated confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers exists a mysterious oasis called Brussels and two charming river towns that would be right at home on the more celebrated coastlines of New England or Oregon. Grafton serves up old-school boardwalk charm with ice cream parlors and craft shops, while its larger neighbor to the south, Alton, is a bluff-laden gem of historical edifices, cobblestone streets and a suspension bridge that lights up the night. Fast Eddie's Bon Air -- rated the best bar in America by one lad magazine of considerable beneath-the-boxspring repute (and this year's "Best Beer Glass" honoree) -- beckons at the end of the cruise. Now what was it you said about sailboats?

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