The gleaming metropolis of Chicago made Illinois famous, but the state also offers smaller cities, including one with presidential connections, and landscapes covered in rivers and vineyards.
The most famous destination in Illinois is undoubtedly Chicago, a dazzling, multicultural city on the edge of Lake Michigan. Look beyond the Windy City to discover the rest of the state’s many delights, which include historical attractions from Lincoln’s presidency, fertile farmlands and counties glistening with grand rivers.
The city of Chicago will most likely be your first stop and point of entry into Illinois. The third-largest city in the U.S. is full of things to see and do. Mingle with locals in Millennium Park, which contains some of the city’s most famous art installations. The Adler Planetarium, the Art Institute of Chicago and the boat rides at Navy Pier are just a few of the ways to fill your days here.
Illinois is named after the Illiniwek Indians who were one of two Native American groups, alongside the Miami tribe, that lived in the state before it was settled by Europeans in the 1600s. Visit attractions such as the John Hauberg Indian Museum, in Rock Island, and the Kincaid Mounds Archaeological Site, near Brookport, to learn about the state’s earliest inhabitants.
Learn why one of Illinois’ nicknames is the “Land of Lincoln.” Abraham Lincoln, the president who oversaw the abolition of slavery, was born in the town of Springfield. Read stories about his life in Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum before wandering around the atmospheric old town. Stop by landmarks such as the Old State Capitol Historic Site.
Explore the bucolic scenery of rural Illinois. To the west, roam through Great Rivers Country, where you can relax in old-world towns such as Elsah on the banks of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Head to the southernmost tip of the state to join the Heartland Rivers Wine Trail or to enjoy adventure sports in places such as Shawnee National Forest.
Fly into Chicago O’Hare International Airport from over 200 destinations around America and the rest of the world. The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are the best times to visit Illinois, as they offer mild weather.