Picturesque landscapes, charming towns, historic architecture, and bustling cities, you’ll find all this and more in the Prairie State.
Best Places You Can’t Miss to Visit in Illinois: From lounging on the shores of Lake Michigan, enjoying a tranquil afternoon at Anderson Japanese Gardens to climbing up the steps at Grosse Pointe Lighthouse, Illinois offers endless activities for a memorable holiday.
Planning a vacation to this beautiful state?
Here are list of the top 7 places you can’t miss to visit in Illinois, United States.
Dive right in!
Willis Tower Skydeck #1
Begin your vacation on a high note as you soak in panoramic views of over four states & Lake Michigan from a height of 1,353 feet.
Located in Chicago, Willis Tower is the third tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the Skydeck is on its 103rd floor.
Experience the thrill of setting out on the glass ledge, from where you can look down at the city.
It’s an amazing spot to get some great pictures & videos too.
So, get your adventurous spirit on & head to this towering skyscraper for a fun start to your vacation.
Anderson Japanese Gardens #2
Love to spend some time amidst nature? Head to this 10-acre Japanese Garden in Rockford designed by Hoichi Kurisu, a renowned landscape designer.
This is one of the best places to soak in some natural beauty, featuring serene ponds, gushing waterfalls, fascinating rock formations, a tea house, a Sukiya-style guest house, and many more beautiful sights.
Enjoy an afternoon stroll, and meditate on the artsy benches to relax your mind & body.
Several events are regularly held here from lecture series and wellness programs to Taiko drumming lessons, the Japanese Summer Festival, and many more.
When hunger strikes, you can head to their on-site restaurant Fresco, to indulge yourself in their creative dishes and some delectable coffee. You’ll come back with a refreshed spirit.
With so many offerings, this is one of the best places to visit in Illinois.
Cahokia Mounds #3
Located in Collinsville, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a peek into prehistoric times, being the biggest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico.
There are 120 mounds where you’ll find 100-foot high Monks Mounds in the middle. This is known to be the largest prehistoric earthwork on the continent.
The area was inhabited from AD 700-1400.
Head to its Interpretive Centre to know about the everyday life of the inhabitants through audio-visual presentations, graphics, artefacts & dioramas.
They even have a life-sized village recreation for a better understanding of the times.
While you are there, check out the Woodhenge, an ancient astronomical observatory. How intriguing!
Starved Rock State Park #4
Craving some adventure?
Head to this state park located on the Illinois river.
With 13 miles of trails, 18 canyons, and numerous waterfalls, the park offers a plethora of outdoor activities for a fun outing. You can hike, enjoy horseback riding, go fishing or boating on the river or relax in the serene lush green surroundings with a picnic.
Wish to dig into a scrumptious meal after your day of exploration?
Head to the Starved Rock Historic Lodge to satiate your cravings. You can even spend the night here if you’d like.
The park takes its name from a rather dark story of Illini Indians who took shelter in the rock. Their enemies had left them to starve to death. The park is on the Register of National Historic Landmarks.
Chicago Riverwalk #5
Experience the beauty of Chicago by exploring its picturesque Riverwalk. Consisting of 6 coves, each with its own name and offerings, there is an array of different activities to enjoy here.
From taking a stroll alongside the river, and kayaking to going for a scenic bike ride, fishing, or hopping on a cruise, there is something here for everyone.
You’ll find plenty of restaurants, shops, and museums nearby.
A popular attraction is Art on theMART, the largest video projection art installation in the world.
As you explore this exquisite area, you can also spot mallards, rock pigeons, American robins, ring-billed and herring gulls amongst many other beautiful birds.
While you’re there, you can also check out the River Theatre and the Swimming Hole which has a zero-depth fountain.
Shawnee National Forest #6
Sprawled across 2,89,000 acres, the only national forest in Illinois features woodlands, hills, canyons & waterfalls.
Enjoy picturesque views from the top of the Fountain Bluff, hike the 160-mile River to River Trail, fish in a lake or pitch a camp in The Garden of the Gods wilderness area which features ancient sandstone cliffs, the activities to do here are endless.
The rich natural beauty of this forest offers a tranquil escape from the bustle of the city.
The area is also abundant in wildlife where you may spot animals such as bears, armadillos, chipmunks, beavers, and more.
Galena Historic District #7
Galena is known as ‘The City That Time Forgot’. Perched on the banks of the Mississippi river, Galena’s historic district is a marvelous sight to behold with buildings featuring Victorian architecture from the 19th century.
As you stroll along this district, you’ll find plenty of unique boutiques, shops, and restaurants, perfect for a fun day out.
Complete your outing with a tour of the stately Ulysses S. Grant Home to learn more about the place’s rich history.
This is one of the most charming small towns in America and one of the best places in Illinois to visit.
Some other notable mentions include Millennium Park, Grosse Pointe Lighthouse, and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum which you can add to your list if you have the time.
So, get your travel bags out & get ready for an unforgettable vacation in the Prairie State.
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Q. What is the number 1 attraction in Illinois?
Cahokia Mounds, Millennium Park, and Galena Historic District are some of the topmost attractions in Illinois.
Q. What are 3 things Illinois is known for?
Illinois is known for its abolition of slavery by Abraham Lincoln, its vast agricultural farmlands, and the bustling city of Chicago.
Q. Why should people go to Illinois?
Illinois is a great place to explore with its diverse landscapes, historic sites, impressive museums, and vibrant music scene.