Exploring Illinois: A Guide to the Best Places to Visit

Exploring Illinois: A Guide to the Best Places to Visit

From the bustling city of Chicago to the small towns that dot its landscape, Illinois is a state with something for everyone. 

Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, a cultural experience, or just some time away from it all, you’ll find plenty of activities and attractions in this Midwest gem. 

From wineries to zoos, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in Illinois. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most popular tourist sites throughout the state including parks and gardens, historic landmarks, art galleries and museums. 

No matter what kind of traveler you are – culture buff or nature lover – there’s something for everyone here in The Prairie State! So read on to discover all that Illinois has to offer!

  1. Starved Rock State Park

Located in the heart of Illinois along the banks of the Illinois River, this state park is one of the most visited tourist attractions. 

With a host of breathtaking canyons and 13 hiking trails, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy here. 

From wildflowers blooming in late spring to colorful foliage in autumn, these rocky cliffs are a must-see. 

You can also take a stroll along the river or enjoy some of the other recreational activities like fishing and boating.

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  1. The Art Institute of Chicago

If you’re an art buff, the Art Institute of Chicago is a must-visit destination. 

Featuring European masterpieces from Monet to Van Gogh, this world-class museum is one of the largest and most visited art museums in the U.S. 

You can explore a wide range of exhibitions including photography, film, architecture and design – there’s something for everyone here! 

And don’t miss out on their iconic lion statues which were designed by renowned sculptor Edward Lutyens in 1896. 

  1. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

No visit to Illinois would be complete without a trip to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. 

Located in Springfield, this museum is dedicated to the 16th President of the United States and features an extensive collection of artifacts, documents and photographs that tell the story of his life and legacy. 

You can also take a guided tour of Lincoln’s home or attend one of their special events such as author talks or theatrical performances. 

  1. Brookfield Zoo

If you’re looking for an exciting family-friendly outing, the Brookfield Zoo can’t be beaten. 

Located just outside of Chicago and home to more than 450 species of animals, this award-winning zoo is a great way to spend an afternoon. 

You’ll find everything from polar bears and giraffes to gorillas and tigers. Plus, you can take a ride on the carousel or hop aboard one of their free monorail tours for a bird’s eye view of the park. 

  1. Galena Historic District

If you’re looking for a dose of small-town charm, head over to historic Galena.

Located in northwestern Illinois, this picturesque town is home to numerous buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

You can stroll along their cobblestone streets and explore some of the unique shops and restaurants or take a ride aboard one of their trolleys for a guided tour. 

Don’t miss out on a visit to the Ulysses S. Grant Home either – it’s definitely worth the trip! 

  1. Cahokia Mounds

Located just outside St. Louis, the Cahokia Mounds is one of the largest archaeological sites in North America. 

This ancient city once held a population of more than 10,000 people and was part of a massive trade network stretching from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. 

You can tour this impressive site which contains some of the oldest buildings ever found in the U.S. or you can attend one of their special events such as art shows and lectures. 

  1. Garden of the Gods

If you’re looking for a little peace and quiet, head to Garden of the Gods. 

Located in southern Illinois near Shawnee National Forest, this natural area is home to towering sandstone cliffs that have been carved out over millions of years. 

You can explore miles of trails or relax at one of their scenic overlooks as you take in the breathtaking views. 

While there, you can take advantage of activities like horseback riding, biking, or hikes of varying intensity. In other words – there is something for everyone! 


From the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago to the majestic Garden of the Gods, Illinois has something for everyone. 

Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure or a cultural experience, there’s no shortage of fun things to do here in The Prairie State. 

With its stunning landscapes and rich history, Illinois is truly a Midwest gem that should not be missed! So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today and discover all that this vibrant state has to offer!

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