The state of Illinois, which lies in the Midwestern region of the United States, can be considered a state of many firsts, as home of the world’s first skyscraper in 1885 and as the state where the ice cream sundae originated. Illinois is the only state in the world that boasts a river flowing backwards after engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River, and it’s also the birthplace of the tallest man in medical history (who stood at 8’11”!). The state is home to the largest bakery in the world and the world’s largest library with more than two million books, all contributing to make Illinois one of the best known states in the country.
As home of one of the most loved presidents in US history, Abraham Lincoln, Illinois is a popular destination for history buffs and museum lovers. Chicago, the state’s biggest city, boasts many world famous attractions such as Millennium Park, which displays Chicago’s landmark stainless steel sculpture called Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain and the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink. Nearby at the Art Institute of Chicago, visitors can view ancient sculptures, post-impressionist paintings and 300,000 works of art from the 1800s. 360 Chicago, formerly known as the John Hancock Observatory, offers the best views in the city, while the 385 acre Chicago Botanic Garden has 27 display gardens and is also known for hosting events like cooking classes and flower shows. The Field Museum of Natural Science will give you the lowdown on the discovery of Sue, the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever found; and the 3,300 foot long Navy Pier is a favorite destination in the Midwest, home to the Shakespeare Theater and the Chicago Children’s Museum. One of the oldest zoos in the United States, The Lincoln Park Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals from 200 species; and the world famous Chicago Cultural Centre houses the world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome and is also the reception venue for world leaders visiting the city.
Springfield, the capital city of Illinois, attracts tourists from all over the globe thanks to its many significant historic sites. As the city where President Abraham Lincoln resided for much of his life, Springfield has several sites dedicated to its most famous resident. Lincoln’s home has been turned into the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, containing 12 rooms, and Lincoln’s Tomb and War Memorial are an impressive homage to the president. The city also is known for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library which displays life-size dioramas of key events of Lincoln’s life and two special effects theater shows. Another architectural marvel in Springfield is the Dana Thomas House which has 16 levels, 35 rooms and was designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The third largest city in Illinois, Rockford, is a city for adventure seekers. Those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of city life can relax around the manicured gravel gardens and waterfalls under 16th century gazebos at the Anderson Japanese Gardens, labeled the most beautiful Japanese garden in the United States. For those traveling with kids, Discovery Center Museum is a must with its interactive learning exhibits. The Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens is another must-see when in Rockford to experience the beauty of the tropics while remaining in the Midwest.
Of the many parks in Illinois, Buffalo Rock State Park offers a magnificent view of the Illinois River. The main attractions of this park, located in Ottawa city, are the five animal structures inspired by Native American cultural traditions, known as the Effigy Tumuli. Other parks in Illinois include Giant City State Park, which highlights massive sandstone structures and is spread across 400 acres as well as Starved Rock State Park with its canyons and waterfalls. After exploring the greenery of the state, travelers can head to Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort to enjoy its water park and other attractions.
From the big city attractions and entertainment to its historic sites and natural beauty, Illinois has something to offer every kind of traveler.