I've just learned from Kathy Casstevens of the Starved Rock Lodge that the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center will be closed on Christmas, Dec 25th and also on Friday, December 26th , 2014.
On December 6, 2014, the President issued an Executive Order excusing executive branch (non-Postal Service) employees from duty on Friday, December 26, 2014. The Visitor Center will open for normal operation at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, December 27th.
The Illinois Waterway Visitor Center is found on the banks of the Illinois River directly across from Starved Rock. Besides the Starved Rock Lodge, the Visitor's Center is a great place for winter Eagle watching. Many can be seen in the trees below the Lodge and on Plum Island
If a barge traveling on the Illinois River happens to be locking through, from the Visitor's Center you can watch the whole process of a barge entering, the locks, the water raising or lowering, and barge exiting the locks. There are many interesting displays and wildlife mounts there for viewing as well.
This is a great one-day Christmas vacation destination for the family. If you care to extend your stay in the area, the Starved Rock Lodge has an indoor pool and cabins available on the grounds. I don't think snow will be an issue, so hiking some of the trails will be fun.