19 Illinois Getaway Destinations to Explore in 2023

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If you are planning for a trip to Illinois then you are at the correct place. The reason behind this is that Illinois is a place with numerous important locations in the USA. This place also welcomes a large number of tourists throughout the year. Illinois is the home to major sports and is also a cultural hub as well. Thus, it is crucial to explore all the famous places to visit in Illinois.

19 Places To Visit In Illinois

So you’re going to Illinois, but where exactly should you head to and what all cities should you visit? Here is an extensive list of some places you must visit in the land of Lincoln during your US trip:


1. Chicago

Many of you might already know this place and also the reason why it is famous, but for the people who are not familiar to it, here is the story. Chicago is the third largest city in the country of US. And the reason why it attracts a large number of tourists is because of its incredibly stunning locations. And this place is also one of the top places to visit in Illinois. The location of Chicago is on the western side of Lake Michigan. If you adore beaches and waterfronts then this place is perfect for you. This is among the popular vacation spots in Illinois. You can refer to the Chicago travel guide for more details.

Optimal time to visit: May-June, September-October

Attractions: Navy Pier, Millenium Park, Wills Tower

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2. Springfield

The state capital of Illinois is Springfield. This is the birthplace of America’s 16th president who is Abraham Lincoln. And most of the tourism at this place revolves around this remarkable man, with people who come here visiting Lincoln’s home, Abraham Lincoln presidential library, and various places named after him. Additionally, you will also encounter some distinctive places to visit in Illinois as you will come across many Lincoln impersonators as well.

Optimal time to visit: April-June

Attractions: Lincoln Monument Association, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

3. Evanston

Are you a huge food enthusiast and also someone who enjoys watching films and things? Then this location is a hub for all these activities. There are numerous theaters and a plethora of restaurants as well. Additionally, this place is home to the historic Grosse Point lighthouse, where you can engage in sightseeing in Illinois. Furthermore, this place is also an Illinois point of interest. Moreover, the abundance of amazing locations here makes it one of the most pleasant destinations to explore in Chicago.


Ideal time to explore: May-July

Noteworthy sights: Block Museum of Art, Baha’i House of Worship, Gross e Point Lighthouse

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4. Rockford

This destination is the second-largest city in the state of Illinois, following Chicago. It also boasts a vast expanse of open space, spanning approximately 20,000 acres. If you happen to live nearby, this can be a perfect weekend getaway to Illinois. Furthermore, this place becomes even more enchanting during winter, so keep it in mind when discussing locations to visit in Illinois during the winter season. You can catch a glimpse of various wild felines such as Amur leopards and Sumatran tigers here as well.

Ideal time to visit: December for skiing

Noteworthy sights: Burpee Museum of Natural History, Anderson Japanese Gardens, Rock Cut State Park

5. Galena

This place is the tiniest city located in the northwestern corner of the state of Illinois. Despite its small size, it boasts exceptional architecture that has earned it fame. Additionally, there are numerous scenic viewpoints that make it one of the most picturesque locations in Illinois. When you visit this destination, you can also enjoy a shopping spree. Interestingly, even a type of mineral is named after this city.


Ideal time to visit: Late spring

Noteworthy sights: Ulysses S. Grant Home, Blaum Bros. Distilling Co.

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6. Bloomington

Bloomington is the twelfth largest city in Illinois. Just like many other cities, it also has a sister city. Therefore, let’s avoid discussing its biography and instead focus on the places you can explore there. When you visit this city, you will find approximately 44 parks and three golf courses. Hence, don’t ever forget to bring your golf equipment along. All the locations in Bloomington make it an exhilarating city and offer wonderful attractions to visit in Illinois. Moreover, you can also take your children to the small yet captivating zoos found in the area.


Optimal time to visit: April-October

Points of interest: Lake Monroe, McCormick’s Creek State Park, WonderLab Science Museum, Oliver Winery

7. Starved Rock State Park

This destination is renowned for its fascinating natural attractions and is frequently visited by people. It also holds hidden spots within the state of Illinois. Although it is located quite a distance away from Chicago, approximately 100 miles, visiting this park will provide you with a genuine experience of nature that will surely astonish you. Therefore, if you possess an affinity for nature, consider planning a trip to this place.

Starved rock state park

Optimal time to visit: crowded in spring, summer, and fall

Points of interest: French Canyon, Saint Louis Canyon

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8. Quincy

The location we are discussing here is a remarkable place situated on bluffs that overlook the Mississippi River. If you reside nearby, you might already be familiar with this place. Quincy is also regarded as one of the must-visit places in Illinois, and it is a significant stop on the Underground Railroad. Its traditional German-style adds to its charm, and it also holds a rich historical background. One captivating aspect of this city is the annual film festival it hosts.


Optimal time to visit: May-September

Points of interest: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, Blue Hills Reservation

9. Elmhurst

This location is the western suburban area of Chicago, and keep in mind that the population of this place is approximately 45,000. If you appreciate things that involve art, then the art museum can be a destination that you will explore first. One remarkable aspect of this museum is that it offers classes for adults and children alike. This area is filled with numerous shopping venues where you can purchase whatever you desire.


Optimal time to visit: June-September

Points of interest: Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, Elmhurst Art Museum, Safari Land

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10. Alton

The location mentioned here is approximately 15 miles north of St. Louis. And don’t assume that it is not affiliated with the city, as it is considered one of its greatest metropolitan areas. This place is also renowned for its limestone bluffs along the Mississippi River. When you take a ride along the river, you will undoubtedly perceive it as one of the best places to visit in Illinois. Moreover, educational establishments like museums can also be found here. It is also among the best destinations to celebrate the new year globally.


Optimal time to visit: May-September

Points of interest: Jane Austen’s House Museum, King’s Pond, Alton Gardens

11. Lincoln’s Tomb

Do you still recall me discussing Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace? If you do, then this location we are referring to is somewhat similar because it is also associated with that individual. This place can be found in Oak Ridge Cemetery and if you would like to visit, it is open to the public all year round. Being a prominent figure, this place attracts numerous visitors and is one of the top destinations to visit in Illinois.

Optimal time to visit: April to December

Points of interest: Historical site

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12. Shawnee National Forest

The Shawnee national forest is one of the remarkable destinations to explore in southern Illinois rolling hills. The rocks shaped in this location are extremely distinctive in form and are truly astonishing. It also encompasses a vast expanse that can reach up to 268,000 acres. And if you are an individual who adores, lives, and can sacrifice everything for hiking, then this place can be your ultimate choice, but even if you are not fond of it, there are plenty of other activities to indulge in.

Shawnee national forest

Optimal time to visit: All year round

Points of interest: Verdant landscape, exceptional plant and animal life

13. Mississippi Palisades State Park

This is a dense and pleasurable destination that you must visit. It is adorned with an abundance of trees and other elements that will truly captivate you. Not only does this park offer lush greenery and natural wonders, but it is also steeped in rich American history and boasts numerous historical landmarks. You will also encounter various species of animals in this astonishing location.

Mississippi Palisades state park

Optimal time to visit: All year round

Points of interest: Historical sites, greenery, unique flora

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14. Grant Park

Grant Park encompasses a vast expanse adorned with lush greenery and other delightful features. It spans a total area of 319 acres and is located in the heart of Chicago. Furthermore, you can also find numerous museums in close proximity, offering a wide range of activities to cater to your desires and allowing you to revel to your heart’s content.

Grant Park

Optimal time to visit: July to March

Points of interest: Serene green setting, invigorating atmosphere

15. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

One of the largest and most intricate archaeological sites in the entire United States, Cahokia Mounds was the abode of the Mississippian people during 600-1400 A.D. You will discover massive mounds where the populace of Mississippi once dwelled. If you wish to learn more, you can pay a visit to the museum where you will find informative videos, artifacts, and details about the civilization of Cahokia’s inhabitants.


Optimal time to visit: Throughout the year

Points of interest: Vintage sights and museum

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16. Matthiessen State Park

Extending over an expanse of 1,70 acres, Matthiessen is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and daredevils. What makes this one of the most exceptional places to explore in Illinois during spring break. You will discover captivating waterfalls, splendid canyons, and river streams cascading into Vermillion River. The park is teeming with nature’s abundance and hikers and bikers will have an unforgettable time exploring vibrant sandstone walls and towering bluffs.

Matthiessen State Park

Optimal time to visit: Throughout the year

Points of interest: Impeccable nature, captivating waterfalls, splendid canyons, and river streams

17. Tunnel Hill State Trail

If you are a fervent cyclist, then you are going to adore visiting Tunnel Hills State Tail. It was primarily a railway line which was crafted in the late 10th century. Experience a spine-chilling sensation as you ride through a lengthy tunnel while mountain biking. The entire surroundings appear picturesque and exhilarating. If you have spare time and possess a fondness for adventure, then you should unquestionably pay a visit to this place in Illinois. It is a remote area without any amenities, so remember to bring your own supply of food and water.

tunnel park in illinois

Optimal time to visit: Throughout the year, avoid rainy days

Points of interest: Picturesque surroundings and thrilling experience

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18. Naperville Riverwalk

For those who desire a tranquil and serene ambiance, should take a leisurely stroll along the Naperville Riverwalk. Adorned with fountains, artwork, and sculptures, this location serves as one of the most picturesque sites in Illinois. You will also come across a café with an outdoor patio where you can relish beverages and comforting cuisine. Additionally, you can rent kayaks and paddle boats for water sports activities or take your children to JayCee playground.

Optimal time to visit: April to December

Points of interest: Downtown Naperville, Naperville covered bridge

19. Peoria

Situated alongside the banks of the Illinois River, Peoria is a city established by the French explorer Henri de Tonti. The reason you would relish visiting this place is because it is positioned on the waterfront, providing captivating views of the beautiful river coast. The city is also home to the renowned American machinery behemoth, Caterpillar. Hence, you can also enjoy simulations of colossal earth movers and machinery during your visit.

Peoria illinois

Optimal time to visit: Oct-Nov, January

Points of interest: Peoria Lake, Glen Oak Park

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These were all the noteworthy places to explore in Illinois, although not all, but a few. You can truly have a splendid time by visiting all these locations. This article encompasses a blend of historical sites, green havens, and significant cities, making them some of the most remarkable places to see on your sojourn to the United States. For our editorial guidelines and copyright disclaimer, please click here.

Frequently Asked Questions about Places to Visit in Illinois

What are the optimal places to visit in Illinois?

Here are some attractions in Illinois that you must explore: Chicago, Springfield, Evanston, Rockford, Galena, Bloomington, Starved Rock State Park, Quincy, Elmhurst, Alton, Lincoln’s Tomb, Shawnee National Forest, Mississippi Palisades State Park, and Grant Park are some of the finest places to visit in Illinois.

What are the best activities to partake in Illinois?

Here are some of the best activities to engage in Illinois: 1. Discover wildlife at Shawnee National Forest 2. Stroll around Chicago Botanic Garden 3. Witness the wonders of Shedd Aquarium 4. Delve into history at Cahokia Mounds Historic Site

5. Indulge in art at Chicago Cultural Center

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