Top 10 Places to Visit in Illinois State

Known as the Prairie State because once long ago, most of the state was covered in prairie grass, Illinois State is the USA’s fifth-largest and its predominant economic activity is agriculture. In fact, Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins in the country. But that’s not all. There, you’ll find the world’s largest public library (Chicago), and also the birthplace of former American President Ronald Reagan. Apart from all this, if you’re planning a trip to Illinois State, there are several must-see places that you need to put on your itinerary. We have selected our top 10 so that you can make a more informed decision. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Springfield

Although not the largest city in Illinois State, Springfield is actually the capital as opposed to what many think is the windy city, Chicago. While in Springfield, you can enjoy many self-guided tours, walking tours, historical sites, and specialty museums. Some of the most important landmarks there include: the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Lincoln Tomb & War Memorials, Illinois State Capitol building, Old State Capitol State Historic Site, Illinois State Museum, Washington Park, and the Illinois Governor’s Mansion. With all these places and more, Springfield should be your first choice when visiting Illinois State.

  • Chicago

As mentioned earlier, Chicago is Illinois State’s largest city and is also known as the windy city. However, contrary to popular belief, it’s not called this because it’s that windy. It actually got its name from politicians’ long-winded speeches in the past. But politicians aside, there’s plenty to see and do in Chicago. You can start off with a visit to The Art Institute of Chicago if you’re into art. However, there is also the famous Navy Pier, which offers boat trips that will enable you to see some of the world’s tallest buildings. For a more historical perspective, why not visit the Field Museum? But there is also Millennium Park, Shedd Aquarium, Cloud Gate, Willis Tower, and the Lincoln Park Zoo.

  • Evanston

Home to one of the world’s best tertiary education institutions – Northwestern University, with its beautiful campus, Evanston also offers much to see in terms of historical, culinary, and entertainment purposes. For example, you can enjoy the delights of the Downtown Evanston Farmer’s Market, followed by Shakespeare Garden, Next Theatre, The Actors Gymnasium, Cahn Auditorium, The Nichols Concert Hall, Levere Memorial Temple, Lawrence O. Lawson Park, Lee Street Beach, and so much more.

  • Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

The Cahokia Mounds is an historic park that lies in south-western Illinois between East St. Louis and Collinsville. The park covers 2,200 acres or approximately 3.5 square miles. As a national historic landmark and designated site for state protection, it contains about 80 man-made mounds, although the ancient Native American city was believed to be much larger. In fact, it is thought that there were previously 120 earthen mounds, culminating in the largest city ever built north of Mexico before Columbus. Ths historic site is also one of the 24 Unesco World Heritage Sites in the US.

  • Route 66

Referred to in films, songs, television programs, and more, Route 66 starts in downtown Chicago and ends at the Santa Monica pier in California. This route, which can take about three weeks to complete, was one of the most famous roads in the US because it was used by people in the 1930s to travel west looking for economic opportunities during difficult times. It’s also a highly scenic route and although it cannot be described as a single destination, it is certainly worth adding to our list because of its historical significance.

  • Peoria

Notably, in Peoria, you can visit the Peoria Riverfront Museum as well as the Peoria Zoo. Dozer Park is another excellent location where you can enjoy some great baseball and other sports games. However, there is also the Forest Park Nature Center, alongside the Louisville Slugger Sports Complex. For the nature lovers, there is the Luthy Botanical Garden as well as the Giant Oak Park. For the astronomers among you, why not pay a visit to the Northmoor Observatory and gaze at the night sky with twinkling stars appearing that much closer to you?

  • Naperville

Naperville is known for the Moser Tower and Millennium Carillon, which is one of the four largest in the world. The city is also home to an extensive parks and forest preserve network, including Centennial Beach. For the history buffs, why not try the outdoor history museum in the form of the Naper Settlement? The Morton Arboretum, meanwhile, is another outdoor museum that is home to a library, herbarium, and tree research program. There is also Catigny Park, DuPage Children’s Museum, First-Division Museum, Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium, Naperville Riverwalk, Solemn Oath Brewery, Knoch Knolls Nature Center, Wentz Concert Hall, Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve, and Millennium Wall, among many others.

  • Rockford

Known as the “City of Gardens”, Rockford is located in northern Illinois. The city is home to numerous parks and outdoor spaces. Famous for its arboretum, conservatory, and the Anderson Japanese Gardens, it also has a number of wonderful museums. These include the Discovery Center Museum, Midway Village & Museum Center, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House, and the Burpee Museum of Natural History.

  • Galena

In short, Galena has something for everyone. You can embark on an outdoor adventure along the Mississippi River or spend hours getting lost in the many historical sites. Foodies will absolutely delight in the rich, local flavors, while shoppers can revel in the endless boutiques and shops featuring exquisite works of art from local artists. But the sky is literally the limit in Galena as you can also hop on an adventure in a hot air balloon. There are trolleys that can take you around town and for the golf lovers, you can tee up a round of golf on the championship greens.

  • Starved Rock State Park

Known as the best park in the entire state of Illinois, Starved Rock offers everyone something new and exciting when exploring nature. Perfect for all-year-round activities, you can start off by hiking some of the popular or even off-the-beaten-trail paths. The waterfalls are another excellent sight to see and as for activities, you can enjoy rafting, kayaking, canoeing, or even go fishing. Winter offers snow-shedding and ice climbing, while in warmer weather, you can spot bald eagles. But that’s not all. The location also boasts wineries, breweries, as well as museums. And perhaps for the most adventurous among you, there is even the opportunity to go skydiving.

Final thoughts

As the fifth largest state in the US, it is no understatement to say that Illinois offers something for everyone. And if you need a helping hand with your transportation, you can always rely on us at Bus Connection to make your journey through the state as pleasant and enjoyable as possible. You’ll never worry about getting lost again or wonder if you’re on the right route. Traveling in comfort means that you can spend more time soaking in the sights, sounds, and smells of Illinois as opposed to staring at a map, wondering where you are. So, don’t hesitate and reach out to us for your next trip! We’re just a call away, ready to give you a bespoke, once-in-a-lifetime experience.