This midwestern state, which is the birth town of Hilary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama, is known for farmlands, corn and the contrastingly vibrant city of Chicago. Sometimes titled the “Land of Lincoln” as Abraham Lincoln made the state his home for 31 years, Illinois presents you with American culture like no other. The world’s first McDonalds was in Illinois, and Chicago is famous for many of its culinary delights, including its deep pan pizza and popcorn smothered in cheese and caramel. It’s a state teeming with vibrant energy and some great places to visit. Here are just some of them.
- Millennium Park
Located in Downtown Chicago, Millennium Park is considered the true Chicago experience. It’s a hub of interactive installations, art and inspiration. The most famous icon of the city, the Cloud Gate (also known as “the Bean”), can be found here amongst interactive water features, innovative green space and free open-air galleries. You can find Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed play areas with bridges, slides and boats for kids to explore. For older children (and adventurous parents) there are skate parks, rock climbing walls and mini golf courses for some moderate outdoor exercise. Try to catch one of the iconic music festivals that are hosted here, including Chicago Blues and Chicago Jazz Festival. There is so much to see and do at Millennium Park, you just can’t miss it!
- Route 66
An iconic American symbol of culture and nostalgia – you cannot visit the state of Illinois without cruising down at least some of Route 66. In between spotting classic diners, abandoned gas stations and vintage neon signs, take a look on bonusfinder. There is a great section on their site which shows you the best bonuses available in Illinois. Take a slight detour to Country Classics Cars at interstate 55 to marvel at the wonderous collection of vintage models that was started as a hobby by a local farmer. Learn the history behind why this route was so important and admire the artifacts found in the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, and don’t forget to take a picture with the iconic mural.
- Illinois Beach State Park
A unique and beautiful area in Illinois, with 6.5 miles of sandy beach along the shore of Lake Michigan, the area is popular with those who want to experience the states natural beauty at ease. With sand dunes, swales, marsh lands and oak forests, there is an abundance of wildlife that call the area their home and are just waiting to be spotted in the preservation site. During the summer season, you can book out a camping spot to fully immerse yourself in the natural surroundings. There are bike trails and accessible hiking paths, with a 2.2-mile graveled loop. With several picnicking tables, Illinois Beach State Park is a great place to spend a day, and you can top it all off and get out on the water with a boat trip from North Point Marina.
One that should be on the bucket list of every music lover, Lollapalooza takes over Grant Park for four days every year and fills it with eight stages where more than 170 bands from all over the world will perform for 100,000 people each day. A giant in music festivals, it is celebrated on a global scale and has hosted some of the most popular and iconic music artists like the Foo Fighters, Miley Cyrus and Tyler the Creator. Grab some food in Chow Town, where you can find delicious bites to eat, restaurants, and drinks, all fresh and from the area with reasonable prices. The immensely popular music festival draws people from all walks of life, so there is something for everyone. Admire the Chicago skyline and the Lake Michigan shores while jamming to your favorite tunes from some supreme artists.
- Navy Pier
Stretching into Lake Michigan from the shoreline, Navy Pier is consistently one of the top attractions in Illinois with an abundance of attractions, dining experiences and shopping luxuries. In the summer, make sure you catch the iconic firework display, listen to some live music, buy a ticket for the theater or take a cruise down the river. Multiple boats depart from the pier every day, each offering you a different experience of Chicago. Relaxing dining cruises are popular with couples, but there are also thrill rides and sightseeing tours, some even let you bring your dog along! Head on over to Pier Park for some fairground fun. Absorb the view from the top of the 150ft tall Ferris wheel and have a whirl on one of the flashing fairground rides. There is such a variety of dining options you won’t know where to start, but you have to finish with a sweet treat and a drink in the rooftop bar, obviously!
Illinois is a vibrant hub of classic American culture, dining and music. There are some great places to visit and an energy that is like no other.