Best Things To Do In Illinois For A Memorable Time

By Ketki Hanamshet on Mar 09, 2020
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Illinois is a mixture of attractions that range from awe-inspiring architecture to mesmerizing natural sites. It has a perfect blend of history, culture, and art. While Chicago enjoys the limelight and pulls in most of the travelers, there are many other places to visit in Illinois that will leave you spellbound. Along with visiting the many points of interest in Illinois, attending its festivals, tasting its iconic dishes, and living its nightlife make for the top Illinois activities. Take a look at these best things to do in Illinois and you are one step closer to planning a memorable trip.

1. Tour Chicago - The spotlight of Illinois

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Chicago is the highlight of Illinois. Home to most of the top things to do in Illinois, the Windy City is an amalgamation of exciting times, delicious food, rich history, and creative art.

Wander through the Millenium Park and pose in front of the Cloud Gate for cliché touristy photographs, or walk down the Magnificent Mile that is lined with sky-high buildings along with museums, restaurants, and many other entertainment options. Spend a fun day at the Navy Pier during summers and then head towards Willis Tower Skydeck for witnessing the sweeping views of Chicago skyline. Of all the things to do in Chicago, visiting museums, hopping to cozy bars, and catching a baseball game is a must when in the city.

2. Outdoor Activities - Explore Illinois’ natural beauty

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Illinois is home to a massive number of 60 state parks and they make sure that there is no dearth of outdoor adventures when you visit them.

While the Shawnee National Forest boasts to have 403 miles of hiking trails, the Starved Rock State Park is smug of its waterfalls, canyons, and spectacular views of the Illinois River. As these state parks in Illinois are home to many lakes and rivers, visitors can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and boating to the optimum. There are also a number of ski resorts in Illinois, attracting the winter sports enthusiasts to have a thrilling time throughout the year.

3. Historic sites - Get an insight into Illinois’ rich past

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With a total of 4 U.S Presidents tracing their roots back to Illinois, the state has a proud legacy and many historic sites. There are a total of 87 National Landmarks in the state.

Plan a visit to the historic city of Nauvoo in Illinois and you will be able to find more than 30 historic sites here, dating from 1839-1846. Be it the Joseph Smith Historic Site or Webb Brothers’ Blacksmith Shop, every stop in this small city will give you an insight into the Mormon era. You can step back in time by visiting the lovely Amish countryside where black buggies will take you on a ride and evergreen farms will warmly welcome you. Not to forget are the Cahokia Mounds that are the remains of a prehistoric city from 800 to 1400 AD and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Museums - Find out about Illinois’ culture and history

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There are plenty of historic museums in Illinois that tell you about its rich past and many art galleries that introduce to the state’s cultural vibrance.

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the US. It has a huge collection of 300,000 artworks that introduce to African, Indian, Asian, European, and Byzantine art. The Field Museum in Chicago is yet another interesting place to visit, being one of the largest natural history museums in the world. Museum of Science and Industry, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and Children's Discovery Museum are a few others that are worth visiting.

5. Food and drinks - Get aboard Illinois’ gastronomic wagon

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From Michelin Star restaurants to long winery trails, and from fresh farmer’s markets to the best of breweries, Illinois has everything to be proud of its culinary scenes.

Italian Beef Sandwich, Giordano's Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago, and Horseshoe are some of the signature dishes of Illinois. You can also book food tours in Chicago if you are a foodie and love tasting the local favorites. Illinois has as many as eight wine trails, along which there are a number wineries. The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is one such route that is dotted by many award-winning wineries and marked by picturesque vistas. If you are interested in Illinois fresh produce, then Aurora Farmers Market, Chicago’s Green City Market, or Rockford City Market are some of the best places to visit in Illinois.

6. Festivals and events - Witness Illinois’ culture

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Illinois is always bustling with many festivals and events, throughout the year, that introduce it to the state’s culture and traditions.

Route 66 is one of the most famous points of interest in Illinois and the Edwardsville Route 66 Festival celebrates all things Route 66. Attend the festival in June and you will be able to witness a classic car cruise, a cycle ride, and a 10k race down The Mother Road. Long Grove Strawberry Festival, Cobden Peach Festival, Sycamore Pumpkin Festival, Turkey Testicle Festival are a few festivals in Illinois where you treat your taste buds. For fun and entertainment, you can attend Popeye Parade and Picnic in Chester, Festival of Lights in East Peoria, and HerrinFesta Italiana in Herrin.

7. Road Trips - Set out on a scenic journey in Illinois

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Along with the 300-mile long section of Route 66, Illinois has a number of scenic highways that are just right for a memorable road trip.

Hit Route 66 starting from Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain and you will come across many fascinating roadside attractions, iconic kisch, drive-in theaters, and museums. The Great River Road in Illinois runs along Mississippi and offers picturesque views of blufftops, sprawling wineries, and gushing river. Illinois Lincoln Highway and Historic National Road are two other great options that lure the road trippers.

8. Shopping - Grab some good deals in Illinois

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Illinois is considered to be one of the prime shopping destinations in the U.S. From high-end designer shops to small charming boutiques, you will find them all in this state.

The Magnificent Mile in Chicago is lined by many famous anchor stores like Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom. With over 400 retail shops being located along The Mag Mile, this upscale district is one of the best places to shop in the U.S. Downtown Crystal Lake Main Street is also home to many unique shops selling a variety of items. If you are into flea markets, then Wolff's Flea Market in Rosemont, Kane County Flea Market, and Vintage Garage Chicago Flea Market are your best bet.

9. Nightlife - See Illinois’ fun side

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Illinois’ nightlife is largely dominated by Chicago. With a number of bars, clubs, and casinos, there is never a dull moment in Illinois once the sun sets.

Be it the Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria or the Jumer's Casino in Rock Island, you will have a fun gambling experience in Illinois. You can test your luck by opting for a classic table game. If you aren’t much into gambling, then you may go club hopping and let your hair down until the wee hours. Visit the pubs and bars to taste mouthwatering food along with unique spirits. From tap houses to dive bars, the nightlife of Illinois is ruled by a number of things.

10. Amusement Parks - Get your blood pumping through your veins

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Besides the famous Navy Pier in Chicago, there are a plethora of amusement parks where kids and adults can have a blast in Illinois.

The Six Flags Great America amusement park in Gurnee is amongst the best places to visit in Illinois with kids. There are as many as 53 attractions inside the park itself, including 16 rollercoaster rides and 4 water rides that get the adrenaline rushing through you. The Raging Waves Waterpark in Yorkville and the Knight’s Action Park in Springfield are two other great places to consider visiting. Illinois is also known for its family-friendly fairgrounds such as the McHenry County Fairgrounds in Woodstock, Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, and Williamson County Fairgrounds in Marion.

With all these things to do in Illinois added to your trip plan, you are bound to have a great time.

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