Discover the heart of America – stroll through quaint small towns or revel in Chicago’s big-city delights. Get your kicks on the USA’s most historic highway, Route 66. Retrace the route of Lewis and Clark or explore the land that Abraham Lincoln called home. Illinois is probably best known for Chicago, a world-class city regarded as the cultural heart of the USA. Renowned museums, stunning architecture, Michelin-starred restaurants – Chicago has it all. But what surprises visitors the most is the 40-plus kilometres of ocean-like beachfront just steps from downtown and shopping. Just beyond the city lies Chicagoland, a metro area known for its unique attractions such as Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures and exotic gardens. Some of the biggest and best malls in the U.S. also call the area home. Many are taking shopping to a whole new level with beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces that go on for as far as the eye can see.
Top 5 Places to Visit in Illinois
1. Chicago – One of the biggest, most popular, and attractive cities in the United States, the “Windy City” Chicago is definitely the most popular destination in the state of Illinois and even the entire Midwestern United States. This city that is an eclectic mix of cultures, lifestyles, and neighbourhoods definitely offers a lot for exploring and enjoying, topped with the infamous area of the Loop where the Millennium Park and its famous sculpture The Bean and the Chicago Institute of Art are located. The skyline of this windy city is famous and well-recognized all around the world and features the Aon Center, the curved Chase Tower, and the mid-century Federal Center.
2. Springfield – Springfield is the capital city of the state of Illinois, a city that once served as the home of Lincoln and offers plenty of activities and sites if you are interested in the history of the American president. Some of the historical highlights in Springfield include the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, the extensive Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, the Oak Ridge Cemetery, where the president and most of his family were laid to rest.
3. Galena – If you fancy digging into the history of the USA, then there are just a few places more interesting and attractive than Galena in Illinois. The city is situated on the Mississippi River banks and is often called the City That Time Forgot and there is no wonder why. Strolling down the streets of Galena seems like a journey back in time when Galena used to be a major port, but nowadays tourism is the main economy of the place. The main street is lined by a bunch of 19th-century mom and pop stores and just a quick walk crossing the Galena River bridge will lead you to the home of the former President Ulysses S. Grant.
4. Starved Rock State Park – Less than 100 miles from Chicago is where the Starved Rock State Park is located, right on the banks of the Illinois River. Due to a glacier melting in the past, the main formations in this National Park are the sandstone canyons, the most popular out of them being Wildcat Canyon and French Canyon because of their waterfalls. The best view in the park is accessible by trekking the trail leading to the Lover’s Leap Overlook.
5. Cahokia Mounds – The Cahokia Mounds is a stunning and curious landmark formed by the American Indians more than 800 years ago. The State Historic Park is located just outside another iconic city in the state of Illinois – St. Louis. In fact, the mounds in this park are considered to be the largest pre-Columbian city north of Mexico and there are 69 remaining mounds that are nowadays covered in grass. Another attraction located in Cahokia Mounds park is the Woodhenge that almost mimics its British stony namesake with its 48 wooden posts that aligns with the solar calendar.