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Amazing Illinois
Kayaking the Chicago River
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Illinois is probably best known for Chicago. The world-class city is regarded as the cultural heart of America. Renowned museums. Stunning Architecture—including the tallest skyscraper in North America. Michelin-starred restaurants. Chicago has them all. But what surprises visitors the most, is the 26 miles of ocean-like beachfront just steps from downtown and Magnificent Mile shopping. 

Just beyond the city lies Chicagoland, known for everything from Frank Lloyd Wright’s stunning architecture to exotic Anderson Japanese Gardens. Some of the biggest and best shopping outlets in America also reside here, many taking shopping to a whole new level with beautiful indoor and outdoor malls that seemingly go on for as far as the eye can see.

But if you’re looking for true Americana through and through, there is no better way to relive America’s golden age than along its most legendary highway, Route 66. The historic highway starts in Chicago and continues throughout the state. It is this iconic stretch where classic diners, drive-in theaters and quirky roadside attractions continue to wind their way through history and into the hearts of visitors to this very day. In fact, mile for mile you can discover more of Route 66 in Illinois than anywhere else. 

Illinois will always be the Land of Lincoln. With good reason, too. Abraham Lincoln spent the majority of his life in Illinois, fondly referring to it as home. Here, you can discover everything from his log cabin in the historic village of New Salem to his home in Springfield. Plus visit one of the most celebrated presidential museums in the world. Lincoln’s legacy marked the beginning of a long history of presidents, including Grant, Reagan and Obama. 

The Mississippi River defines the entire western side of Illinois and if it’s the great wide-open outdoors you’re looking, then you must explore Great Rivers Country. Charming river towns, steamboats, sprawling vineyards, and quaint bed and breakfasts are just of few discoveries that await visitors. This remarkable region is also home to Lewis & Clark’s historic point of departure, the Shawnee National Forest, and the appropriately named Garden of the Gods. 

But while Illinois’ attractions characterize the best of the authentic American experience, chances are, if you ask someone who has visited what they remember the most, they will say the warm, friendly people. This hospitality is something that is felt throughout the state and in the people who are waiting to welcome you.

Amazing Illinois
Kayaking the Chicago River
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Fun Fact

The Chicago Water Tower was built in 1869
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Only two buildings survived the great Chicago fire, the Chicago Water Tower and the Pumping Station.

Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier
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The first Ferris wheel made its debut in Chicago at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Today, Chicago's Navy Pier hosts a brand new, all-season Centennial Wheel.

The Ledge on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower
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The Willis Tower is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 110 stories high.

Must see places

Waiting for a free concert at Millennium Park

Millennium Park

Chicago’s standout urban park packs many features and attractions into its 10 hectares, including public art, gardens, an ice rink, events and free concerts at Pritzker Pavilion. Get a photo in front of the famous Cloud Gate structure, AKA “The Bean.”

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Route 66, the most famous road in all of the USA

Route 66

Kilometer for kilometer you can discover more of Route 66 – the USA’s iconic Mother Road – in Illinois than anywhere else. Start in Chicago, where the road begins, and chart a course that takes you past kitschy roadside exhibits, diners, drive-ins, statues, landmarks and monuments.

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Inside the Dana-Thomas House

Dana-Thomas House

This Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house was a 1902 renovation of an existing home and remains a classic example of the architect’s Prairie style. Tour it to see original furnishings, art glass, mural work and more.

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An architectural cruise on the Chicago River

Chicago Architecture Cruise

One of the best ways to wrap your eyes around the city’s historic skyline (and downtown) is to take a cruise along the Chicago River, which puts its iconic buildings front and center. Enjoy a narrated architecture tour from the open-air boat deck as knowledgeable guides reveal the colorful history and design behind the city’s most emblematic structures.

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Exploring the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Springfield hosts many Lincoln attractions, among them the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and the Lincoln Tomb and War Memorials. Visit one of the most substantial presidential libraries in the country to learn about the 16th President’s life and legacy.

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Shopping the Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile

Stroll down this famed mile (also known as Michigan Avenue) to seize some of the city’s best shopping, dining and entertainment, as well as to see its best-known skyscrapers such as the John Hancock Building and its 360 CHICAGO observatory.

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Starved Rock’s stunning formations

Starved Rock State Park

Cherished for its sweeping canyons and dizzying waterfalls, Utica’s Starved Rock State Park is the perfect place for outdoor recreation year-round. Hike scenic areas, go fishing and boating, or glide through the snow on a snowmobile or cross-country skis. A number of historic places make their home here as well.

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Galena’s picturesque Main Street

Main Street Galena

Experience a classic American Main Street set in a historic town and surrounded by forested hills. The curved thoroughfare hosts 125 shops, galleries, restaurants and bars and is accessible by walking, trolley and – for the brave – a ghost tour. Visit historic sites and eclectic local businesses as you stroll this 19th century red-brick road.

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Anderson Japanese Gardens

Spend a day at this serene refuge in Rockford, where streams, meandering lanes, waterfalls, a tea house and Japanese-style gardens inspire quiet reflection and relaxation.

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Great River Road

Discover Illinois by way of another of the USA’s most iconic highways. Running along the state’s western border and nearly always within view of the Mississippi River, the Great River Road takes visitors past dramatic rock bluffs and historic attractions, as well as through small towns that offer one-of-a-kind museums and picturesque streets.

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Hot Air Balloon flying over Asheville, North California
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