Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Anytime is a Good Time to Visit

Anytime is a Good Time to Visit
May 23, 2024 Nicole

This past weekend, hundreds of families celebrated graduations in Stephenson County. Families who came and stayed in hotels, ate in local restaurants, filled up their tanks with fuel, bought last minute items they forgot at home, and maybe even had the chance to take in some of the amazing attractions and events we have. In short, they were TOURISTS in our beautiful county! 

The economic impact of visitors in Freeport and Stephenson County cannot be overstated. This week is National Travel & Tourism Week and the commemoration is a great occasion to highlight the many ways visitors to our community have a positive impact on the businesses and quality of life in our area.  

In 2023, nearly 50,000 room nights were booked in our three major hotels alone. That does not account for the occupancy to our extremely popular campgrounds and nearly a dozen vacation rental properties. According to the Illinois Office of Tourism, Stephenson County benefited from more than $50.2 million in visitor spending in 2022 (yes, state statistics take longer to be generated). This also contributes to more than 500 jobs in the county. 

So far in 2024, we have seen great growth in the already record-breaking spending numbers of 2023. In April 2024, our three major hotels had 71 percent occupancy. That means out of all of the available hotel rooms, they were booked 7 out of 10 nights. Hotel/motel tax generated by overnight stays is paid by the visitor and a portion is allocated locally for future tourism promotion and a portion goes to the State of Illinois. Visitor-generated tax dollars represent “new” money into our community that is not paid by local residents yet helps present investment into many attractions and projects that benefit those who live here. 

Attractions, events, and businesses in Freeport and Stephenson County continue to build on their individual successes with expansions, extended hours, new ideas, and great collaborations. We are incredibly excited for work being accomplished at so many of our great establishments including Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park, Park Hills Golf Course, the Freeport Art Museum, FAM Arts Plaza, Krape Park Wing It Mini Golf, The Freeport Club, and many others.  

The Greater Freeport Partnership was awarded the Best Tourism Marketing Campaign in the State of Illinois earlier this year for the “Be A Trailblazer” campaign that ran in 2023. This award reached more than 2.3 million people with engaging visual imagery and is proof that, while our region may be rural, people are drawn to the amenities, lifestyle, and beauty of Freeport and Stephenson County. 

We have big plans for the “Choose Your Adventure” campaign being launched this year. Drawing on the success of our outdoor trails and recreation campaign from 2023, we are expanding to include historical attractions, shopping, and dining that are all integral parts of our local experience. We can’t wait to show you the materials as they are released in the coming weeks.  

Travel is essential to every community, industry and the U.S. economy. Help us celebrate this amazing industry during this National Travel & Tourism Week and beyond! 

Nicole Haas is the brand director at the Greater Freeport Partnership and can be reached at or 815-801-3676.