Compiled by Jon Weaving – jweaving@illinoisouth.org

Hofbräuhaus St. Louis – Belleville is opening on April 17th and is on IL-15 across from the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows! The Belleville location is the eighth and largest Hofbräuhaus location in America with seating for 1,100 people at a time. Hofbräu Original, Dunkel and Hefewiezen will be brewed on-site along with seasonal brewmaster selections. There’s more than just beer though. The whole family will enjoy traditional German cuisine and live bands from Germany and Austria seven nights a week at traditional social-style tables in the massive beer hall. Make your plans to visit this exciting new attraction to experience Oktoberfest any time. Visit HofbrauhausStLouis.com for more information.

Are you wanting to try some Beer from Southern Illinois? Taking a hint from the wine trails that have become so popular, the owners of St. Nicholas Brewing in Du Quoin banded together with 14 craft breweries, one distillery and one vineyard in Southern Illinois. They have created a Trail consisting of three “loops” showing their locations on the map. Visitors can comfortably do one loop in a day and visit three or more places. The more adventurous can go for a “two loop” weekend staying overnight at one of the many bed & breakfasts or hotels/motels nearby. Two of the loops fall within counties served by ILLINOISouth Tourism: the Red Loop is The Old Bakery Bar in Alton, Recess Brewing Co. in Edwardsville, Peel Brewing Co. in O’Fallon and Excel Brewing in Breese. The Blue Loop consists of Stumpy’s Spirits Distillery in Columbia, Hopskeller Brewing and Stubborn German Brewing in Waterloo, Lieferbrau Brewery in Red Bud, White Rooster Farmhouse Brewery in Sparta and St. Nicholas Brewing in Du Quoin. The Green Loop takes you farther south to Pomona, Cobden, Murphysboro, Elkville and Christopher. Flyers are available at all locations and more details are on Facebook: Southern Illinois Beer Trail.

IL Route 15 through Belleville offers mile after mile of attractions that are banding together with Belleville Tourism and ILLINOISouth Tourism to encourage visitors to “Follow the Route to Fun!” The latest and largest new place is the Hofbräuhaus German restaurant and brew house. Modeled on the original in Munich, Germany, it’s one of only eight (and the largest) in the U.S. Across the street is the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, which is a destination for thousands of visitors each year for the annual Novena, Christmas Way of Lights, Masses, and other special events. A couple of miles down the road, take the IL 13 exit to Main St. to fine 4204 Main Street Brewing Co. This is a great place to hang out with friends and sample their craft beers with seating inside or on the outdoor covered patio.

Back on Rte. 15, travel to the IL 158 exit to visit The EDGE (Eats, Drinks, Games & Entertainment). Boasting the largest Laser Tag arena in the country, ds vespers Sports Bar and Restaurant, 5-screen theaters and an arcade, the whole family will be happy here. Down the road from the EDGE is Bel-Air Bowl, where not only can you bowl or play arcade games, but this is a popular gathering spot for groups with banquet space downstairs. Nearby, check out a variety of events at Belle-Clair Fairgrounds and Expo Center. Shows with everything from Antiques, guns & knives, arts & crafts and more are shown and sold here.

Hop back on Rte. 15 East, and the next stop is Eckert’s Country Store and Farms. The Country Store with a bakery and deli, Garden Center and Restaurant are open year-round. The Orchard is open in season. Don’t miss the events with food, kids’ activities and pick-your-own fruits and vegetables. Recently opened just a couple of blocks east of Eckert’s, the St. Clair County Event Center has regular auctions, Picker’s markets, flea markets, trade shows and more. A short drive down the road is the final spot (for now) on this fun route – The Weingarten. Tucked back away from the road, this lovely place beckons visitors to sit, relax, sip a glass of wine and enjoy spending some time in the country. Believe it or not, we’ve only traveled 11.4 miles as the crow flies, but what fun is packed into that space! Call (618) 257-1488 or visit www.illinoisouth.org for more info.