Nestled in a clearing deep in the forest of White Pines State Park, White Pines Resort is a massive log lodge built in the 1930’s. It’s now home to a restaurant known for its delicious home-style cuisine, generous portions and friendly staff. Adjacent to the landmark restaurant is a charming and rustic gift shop filled with nostalgic flavors and precious mementos. Authentic, cozy log cabins provide overnight lodging just a stone’s throw from the lodge. Natural beauty abounds with miles of hiking trails that crisscross over bubbling streams and along moss covered limestone bluffs. This hidden gem is ideal for romantic escapes, family outings, corporate retreats, weddings and weekend getaways. Enjoy an amazing experience guaranteed to create good ‘old fashioned times’ with loved ones that harken back to a time of simple pleasures and treasured memories.-White Pines Resort Website
After deciding to take up White Pines Resort on their promise of a weekend getaway filled with generously-portioned home-style cuisine, natural beauty and simple pleasures, I was not disappointed. In fact, as I re-read their ‘About Us’ above while reflecting on my stay there – they pretty much nailed it.
My experience with White Pines Resort had all of those things, and more. For me, the great company was my mom and sister; we loaded up my mom’s Honda CR-V and headed ‘West’ on a Saturday afternoon. It was a quick and scenic drive and we had no problem identifying the entrance to White Pines State Park and finding the clearing that houses the resort. After we checked-in at the main lodge we drove just a few yards down the road to the parking space in front of the single log-cabin we rented, which, like the others, was built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corporation (CCC) and had been meticulously preserved ever since. The log cabin features a gorgeous gas-burning fireplace, small television set, a sizeable bed with a trundle hidden underneath, a full bathroom, mini-fridge, microwave and wi-fi. Once we unpacked we set off for dinner following the footpath a few yards to the lodge, which is where we get to the ‘good food’ part.
The food was better than good – it was great, and yes, it was generously portioned. Once we entered the lodge we found the dining area where we were sat at a table near the fireplace amongst several other table-and-chair sets that helped maintain the cozy, exclusive atmosphere. We were quickly greeted by a friendly server who offered us menus that made it impossible to choose from, but I chose the salmon, seasonal vegetables, and sweet potatoes. We had a lovely relaxing dinner and ended the experience by sharing a piece of warm, homemade pie. After a quick stop into the gift store to grab a candles and chocolate, we headed back to the cabin. We snuggled up in bed with a roaring fire and went through the guest book of guests past; entries from couples and families had us laughing and, at times, a little misty. Once my mom fell asleep my sister and I enjoyed a little cable television where we fell asleep to a familiar show.
The next morning we decided to set off for some of those gorgeous views. After a little bit of hot coffee and some granola bars for sustenance we bundled up as much as we could for a morning hike; map in hand we followed some of the trails through the woods and finally to the creek. The scenery was lovely even in the winter, and the only sound that could be heard was the creek. After almost two hours of hiking we made our way back to the cabin to pack-up and decided to drive through the neighboring town of Oregon, IL for some well-deserved home-style breakfast.
It was a very short drive to Oregon, IL, but we parked and stopped at the Sunrise III Diner for hot coffee and warm food. My mom opted for a hearty meal, while my sister went the healthy route. I myself ordered chocolate pancakes and hot coffee. Once we were done, we decided to explore the downtown area a little more before heading home. A very small town it was, with only a few small shops to explore (but that’s where the charm comes from, right?), and we discovered a general store, popcorn shop, and home-goods boutique to poke around in before it was time to leave. Full bellies and lighter wallets in tow – we decided to head home for the weekend.
I would definitely recommend White Pines to anyone looking for some local adventure. The prices were reasonable, the food was delicious and the experience was unforgettable. If you do plan a visit be sure to tell them ‘Haley’ sent you. Of course that won’t mean anything to them, but it would be kind of fun to say. Happy trails!