Once you enter Starved Rock State Park follow the signs to the Visitor’s Center. Generally open daily, the Visitor’s Center offers displays and exhibits explaining the park’s cultural and natural history. A weekly schedule of activities and hours is posted. The Visitor’s Center has a large parking lot and many people stop in to get maps, go fishing, get food, or begin a hike.
There is a small fast food place inside which we felt was less desirable than even McDonald's. The gift shop offers souvenirs, a nice selection of t-shirts and sweatshirts, crafty items, and items a visitor may have forgotten for their trip. At the back of the Visitor’s Center is a mini-museum about the history of the park area. On display are many animals native to the region as well as a diorama of Fort St. Louis as it appeared in 1683. A happy hour for ice cream is available from 3–4pm and ice cream sells for $0.99 a cone.
Outside of the Visitor’s Center visitors can spread out in the large picnic grounds or grab a pole and try and catch some fish from the Illinois River. The Visitor’s Center receives a lot of traffic because most of the hikes begin at this point. Helpful park rangers are inside ready to answer questions and offer suggestions for a good hike.