The thing that’s very attractive for people traveling here and those from larger cities is the feeling of Americana, the quaintness of these cute little towns dotted throughout the countryside. Each winter, around 3,000 bald eagles fly to Illinois to make it their temporary home, settling in among the cliffs and trees in at least 27 counties around the state—making Illinois one of the best places in the entire country to spot the majestic bird. From Alton, take a guided 45-minute shuttle to locations along the Mississippi River while keeping your eyes open for this iconic bird. Get eagle-watching tips and other places to catch a glimpse here.
Come hungry because there are some really great restaurants that are known for their farm-to-table menu, There are unique amenities like the wakeboard park in Crystal Lake, and the special events like Blues, Brews & BBQ, the Autumn Drive, Pridefest, the dying of the Fox River and even Groundhog Days in Woodstock. >MORE
Illinois is the state where Abraham Lincoln began his political career. The “Land of Lincoln” is the Official State Slogan of Illinois, designated in 1955. In the same year, the U.S. Congress granted Illinois special copyright for exclusive use of the “Land of Lincoln” insignia. Though Lincoln was born in Kentucky and lived in Indiana before moving to Illinois, it was in Illinois where young Abraham Lincoln began his political career with an unsuccessful run for the Illinois General Assembly in 1832. Lincoln eventually was elected to four terms in the Illinois General Assembly and served from 1834-1841. Illinois was also where Lincoln lived when he became President of the United States in 1861. >MORE
Four U.S. presidents were either born in Illinois or spent a significant portion of their lives here: Besides Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama have great connections to the state. Take a journey through Lincoln’s early life and his presidency at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. Here, there are special effect theaters, interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind artifacts that will leave even the faintest museum fan amazed. There’s the recreated 1830s log cabin village at Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site. Visit the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln tried cases before the court, served in the Illinois Legislature and ran his presidential campaign. >MORE
From famous architecture to Route 66 and unique Illinois history, there are so many reasons to visit Illinois. The Mother Road symbolically begins at Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain and continues for 300 miles southwest through the state. Meet fellow road trippers at the Joliet Area Historical Museum’s Route 66 Welcome Center. The Illinois stretch of Route 66 boasts the highest density of kitschy attractions on the Mother Road, from murals and diners to classic cars and remarkable history.
The hiking paths in Mississippi Palisades State Park—especially the southern trails—contain a rich Native American history dating back nearly 1,000 years. Located where the Mississippi and Apple Rivers merge in northwestern Illinois, the park’s 15 miles of hiking trails take you past some unique rock formations with names like Twin Sisters and Indianhead. You also can rock climb (at your own risk), hunt, and fish.