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Welcome to Illinois

Illinois is a state of contrasts. The endless seas of farmland found in the southern part of the Prairie State give way to an endless forest of skyscrapers in the northern corner bordering Lake Michigan. In the Heartland, sleepy rural towns sit juxtaposed with sprawling prairies. From relaxed Peoria to energetic Chicago, you’ll find something to suit your pace in Illinois.

Great Outdoors

While many people think of the big city of Chicago when they think of Illinois, the state also offers scenic spots away from the hustle and bustle. Just west of the city, you’ll find the picturesque Starved Rock State Park. Towering sandstone walls reverberate with cascading waterfalls in this 2,600-acre attraction. In southern Indiana, Shawnee National Forest comprises green hills and rugged rocks.

For something different, check out the wetlands of the Cache River State Natural Area near Cypress. Explore the flora and fauna of this perpetually flooded forest. For manicured landscapes, head to Rockford’s Nicholas Conservatory and Anderson Japanese Gardens to enjoy tranquil walks amid hundreds of colorful blooms. Near the southwest corner of the state, the prehistoric Cahokia Mounds preserve an indigenous community.

Cities and Towns

The most populated city in the Midwest, Chicago is a traveler’s playground that’s packed with adventure. Walk the stretch of North Michigan Avenue known as the Magnificent Mile, with skyscrapers towering above. For an entirely different perspective, Willis Tower’s Skydeck provides pulse-pounding views. Sports fans must visit historic Wrigley Field.

If you’re taking the Great River Road along the mighty Mississippi (which forms the state’s western border), pull off at the small town of Nauvoo. Several historic sites and the state’s oldest winery make this a pleasant place to unwind.

States of Fun

History buffs can’t leave Illinois without exploring the Land of Lincoln. A number of sites preserve Honest Abe’s legacy near Springfield, where the 16th president started his political career. Visit his former home, law office and old capitol building.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library provides an extensive view of his life and political career. History comes to life at Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, a replica of the type of village Abe would have lived in during the 1830s. His final resting place is preserved with reverence at the Lincoln Tomb.