If you want to explore the American Midwest, head to Illinois. The land of Lincoln is home to numerous cities, as well as rural farmland. You can relax on the shores of Lake Michigan, and you can also visit small towns rich in history. Illinois is home to Windy City, Abraham Lincoln, and much more. An overview of the best places to visit in Illinois.
Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Illinois 2021
There is no doubt that Chicago is the most popular destination in Illinois, and even in the entire Midwest of the United States. This huge city has a lot to explore, but many of the highlights are in an area known as the Loop. Millennium Park is located in the Loop, and it is there that you can see the reflective sculpture commonly known as The Bean.
Also on the Loop is the Chicago Institute of Art, arguably one of the best art museums in the country. Chicago's architecture and skyline are famous around the world, and a walking tour can showcase landmarks like the Aon Center, the curved Chase Tower, and the mid-century Federal Center, which was built by Mies van der Rohe.
For history buffs, there are few places in Illinois more interesting than the city of Galena. Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, Galena is known as the Forgotten City of Time. In the 19th century, Galena was an important port, but now tourism is its main economy.
Strolling down Main Street is the best way to explore Galena, as countless mom and dad shops housed in 19th-century buildings line the street. You can also use the footbridge to cross the Galena River or explore the home of former President Ulysses S. Grant, who lived there before the Civil War.
The state capital is Springfield, another city that was once the home of Abraham Lincoln. This is the best place to visit in Illinois if you are interested in all things Lincoln, and there is no shortage of options.
There is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, where he lived for over 17 years. The extensive Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Museum is also worth visiting for a few hours. Many visitors also make time to visit Oak Ridge Cemetery, one of the most visited cemeteries in the world, where Abraham Lincoln and most of his family were buried.
At the southern tip of the state is the Tunnel Hill State Trail, a lesser-known but incredible destination in Illinois worth visiting. The trail is just under five miles and passes through several long tunnels.
Much of the area the trail covers is open-pit mines or reclaimed farmland, and there is some magnificent scenery. Whether you walk, jog, or bike the crushed gravel trail, you will pass through beautiful ravines and along streams and cliffs. To get to the trail entrance, start in the city of Vienna.
The third-largest city in the state is Rockford, where the Anderson Japanese Gardens are located. Many declare that this site is the best Japanese garden in the United States, and it is without a doubt an incredible place to spend the day. Only open between May and October, the seasonal gardens are perfectly maintained.
More than just plants, the landscape is carefully and methodically planned, with natural features of water, bridges, pagodas, and lanterns that help create a breathtaking masterpiece. Pick up a map from the Visitor Center and be sure to take a photo on the Bridge of Cypresses that leads to the Garden of Reflection.
On the banks of the Illinois River is Starved Rock State Park. The park is less than 100 miles from Chicago, which means that it receives many visitors to the city for the day, as well as travelers from out of town.
Starved Rock State Park features sandstone canyons that form due to melting glaciers. Some of the canyons, specifically Wildcat Canyon and French Canyon, even have waterfalls. Hiking is a great way to experience Starved Rock State Park, and the best view in the park is accessible via a trail that leads to the Lover $ 0027s Leap Overlook. As you walk, keep an eye out for deer and migratory birds.
One of the most influential American presidents is undoubtedly Abraham Lincoln. If you are an American history buff or a fan of the Lincoln presidency, pay tribute to the great man with a visit to Lincoln's New Salem.
This national landmark is a perfect reconstruction of the original New Salem, also in Illinois, where Lincoln lived between 1831 and 1837. In Lincoln $ 0027s New Salem, you can visit 23 open buildings. Many of them are log cabins and may contain one or more guides in period costumes.
Furniture, costumes, and even horses are accurate to the period, and this can be a great way to get a feel for Lincoln's role in Illinois.
The main campus of the University of Illinois, the largest university in the state, is located in the city of Champaign-Urbana. This destination is a shining example of a college town. Technically, Champaign-Urbana is two different cities, but they are mixed in a single metropolis.
Embrace the spirit of higher education by visiting the Spurlock Museum, an eclectic collection of fascinating artifacts from around the world. Whether you're looking for a tasty coffee or doing your weekly shopping, the Market at the Square is a lively and fun place to hang out, especially on Saturdays.
Louis, across the state line, is the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Park. The Cahokia Mountains are a fascinating landmark made up of American Indians who lived there more than 800 years ago. The mounds are believed to signify the largest pre-Columbian city in northern Mexico. 69 mounds remain that are now covered with grass.
The largest of these mounds is Monks Mound, and it is over 100 feet high. Another interesting part of Cahokia is Woodhenge, a large circle made up of 48 wooden posts that line up with the solar calendar, making it very similar to Stonehenge in England.
When the great outdoors is calling, answer with a trip to the Shawnee National Forest. Located in the southernmost part of the state, this national forest was once completely covered by the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Fortunately, that ice sheet melted millions of years ago, and the Shawnee National Forest is now perfect for hiking, camping, swimming, and photography.
Shawnee's biggest attraction is the Garden of the Gods, an impressive rock formation that can be recognized in the Illinois neighborhood. A small observation path surrounds the Garden of the Gods and makes it easy for visitors to contemplate its beauty from all angles.