Northern Illinois, IL

Travel Guide
Utica

Crisscrossed by the Mississippi and Rock rivers, this nature-lover’s playground was also the boyhood home of three United States presidents.

The unique landscapes and historic small towns of Northern Illinois make it a visually arresting Midwest region, perfect for outdoor adventures. Drive north from Chicago, passing prairies dotted with stone monoliths, rolling hills and rocky bluffs. Connect with presidential history in the small towns where Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan once lived.

Begin your trip outside Ottawa in Starved Rock State Park, one of the state’s most popular outdoor spaces, known for its dramatic rock formations. Go skydiving for unforgettable views of the rivers and landscapes of the region.

Move north to Dixon and visit the Lincoln Memorial & Old Settlers Cabin, on the site of historic Fort Dixon. From here a young Abraham Lincoln fought in the Black Hawk War. Learn about more modern history at the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, which explores the family’s humble beginnings.

Once you reach the Mississippi farther west, visit Mississippi Palisades State Park, rich in Native American history as well as opportunities for hiking, fishing and boating. Bikers love nearby Savanna. Explore the classic bike and memorabilia collection and have a beer at the Iron Horse Social Club.

Admire 19th-century architecture and natural beauty in Galena, near the northern state border. Ski at the Chestnut Mountain Resort or hike through Native American sites and bird sanctuaries in the Casper Bluff Land and Water Reserve.

Northern Illinois is the region west of Chicago, just south of Wisconsin. Fly into Chicago O’Hare International Airport, a 1.5-hour drive from Ottawa or into the smaller Chicago Rockford International Airport farther west, which offers connections to other Midwest states and Canada. Rent a car at the airport or drive your own from home. The region’s parks are best accessed in a personal vehicle.

Whatever your fitness level, the state parks in Northern Illinois offer wilderness experiences for all, no matter how prepared for exercise you may be.

Where to stay in Northern Illinois

Baymont by Wyndham Rockford
Baymont by Wyndham Rockford
2.5 out of 5
662 N Lyford Rd, Rockford, IL, 61107
The price is $79 per night from Jun 5 to Jun 6
Stay at this business-friendly hotel in Rockford. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the clean rooms ...
3.9/5 Good! (986 reviews)
"The pool is amazing! The rooms were comfortable and at a reasonable price. Local stores and restaurants made it easy to enjoy the time."

Reviewed on May 7, 2022

Baymont by Wyndham Rockford
Stoney Creek Inn Galena
Stoney Creek Inn Galena
2 out of 5
940 Galena Square Dr, Galena, IL, 61036
The price is $89 per night from May 30 to May 31
Stay at this business-friendly hotel in Galena. Enjoy free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking. Our guests praise the pool and the helpful staff in our reviews. ...
4.5/5 Wonderful! (961 reviews)
"Everything was awesome! Especially staff!!"

Reviewed on May 16, 2022

Stoney Creek Inn Galena
Courtyard by Marriott Rockford
Courtyard by Marriott Rockford
3 out of 5
7676 E State St, Rockford, IL, 61108
Fully refundable
The price is $99 per night from May 29 to May 30
Stay at this 3-star business-friendly hotel in Rockford. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and breakfast. Our guests praise the breakfast and the WiFi in our reviews. ...
4/5 Very Good! (791 reviews)
"The staff was Absolutely amazing and super friendly! The rooms were clean and the property was well maintained! I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and would recommend and stay here again!"

Reviewed on May 3, 2022

Courtyard by Marriott Rockford
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Fox River Resort at Sheridan
Holiday Inn Club Vacations Fox River Resort at Sheridan
3.5 out of 5
2558 N 3653 Road, Sheridan, IL, 60551
The price is $119 per night from May 30 to May 31
Stay at this 3.5-star golf aparthotel in Sheridan. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and an outdoor pool. Our guests praise the helpful staff and the comfy rooms ...
4.1/5 Very Good! (234 reviews)
"So overall, I would give the rooms a 3.5/5. Upon arriving, we were asked if we wanted to participate in a presentation and then for doing so, we received $200.00 in cash, but I was “too poor” to participate in the presentation bc I did not make a certain amount of money!! So that was a disappointment ..."

Reviewed on May 22, 2022

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Fox River Resort at Sheridan
Private 3bedroom home, close to golf, historic Galena, skiing, lake, hiking...
Private 3bedroom home, close to golf, historic Galena, skiing, lake, hiking...
Galena, IL
The price is $160 per night from May 30 to May 31
Stay at this vacation home in Galena. Enjoy an outdoor pool, WiFi, and a fitness center. Popular attractions Horseshoe Mound and Grant Home are located nearby. ...
4.9/5 Exceptional! (132 reviews)
Great place
"Great place to stay. We were in town for a wedding and Steve was able to get us in a couple hours early to get ready for the wedding. Communication was awesome."

Reviewed on May 22, 2022

Private 3bedroom home, close to golf, historic Galena, skiing, lake, hiking...
Rustic Villa
Rustic Villa
3.5 out of 5
2643 IL Route 178, Oglesby, IL, 61373
Stay at this 3.5-star villa in Oglesby. Enjoy free WiFi, free parking, and a terrace. Our guests praise the comfy beds and the property condition in our reviews. ...
4.8/5 Exceptional! (26 reviews)
"We loved that it felt like an extension of our home, there were games to play, toys for our kids and a pack n play for the baby. The house was clean, we had supplies if we needed them to wipe spills or anything. The grassy area was a great spot to play catch and run around. The forest views were ..."

Reviewed on Sep 30, 2021

Rustic Villa
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Popular places to visit in Northern Illinois

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Cities near Northern Illinois