Illinois is an incredible state United State to visit. With epic cities like ChicagoAnd gorgeous beaches and stunning state parks, it’s the perfect vacation spot. Best of all, there are plenty of Illinois’ best spots dotted around the state.
All of this means that the hardest task you will face is squeezing them all into your journey.
So, to make things a little easier for you, I wanted to share my top picks in Illinois that I think you’ll love. I traveled all over Illinois and loved it; I am sure you will too.
Anyway, no more wandering! Take a look below at the best places in Illinois to visit. Have a great trip!
1.) Mississippi Palisades State Park
A popular place for those who love the great outdoors, visiting Mississippi Palisades State Park is one of the best things to do in Illinois, and it’s picture perfect.
Located where the Apple and Mississippi rivers meet, it is an area where you can spend hours, if not days exploring. Once here, take some time to hike, ski in the winter, or snowshoe through the powdery snow.
Best of all, Mississippi Palisades State Park features about 15 miles of rugged trails and trails to explore. At this point, while hiking, check out observation point For some of the best views.
Wandering through limestone caves, soaring hills, and wooded valleys is truly breathtaking. This is especially true if you’re taking a road trip across the state and want to stretch your legs.
If you’re up for more adventures, you can still head to Indian Head and Twin Sister, the famous rock-climbing formations, and don’t forget to bring your own gear.
2.) Shawnee National Forest
Another great outdoors place in Illinois is the Shawnee National Forest. Located on the southwestern fringes, this is one of the best things to do in Illinois when you’re heading south to Missouri or Kentucky.
After all, it’s at the forest’s southernmost Illinois point.
One of the main attractions in the jungle is the Garden of the Gods which is a magnificent rock formation that is absolutely stunning.
There is a short lookout trail around this geological area and it is very easy to follow if you are a moderate hiker.
Oh, and don’t forget Jackson Falls, either.
Located in northern Illinois, Rockford is a great stopping point for a city break while crossing the state on a road trip.
In fact, it is the third largest city in Illinois and has a lot of things to do.
Once here, be sure to check out the Anderson Japanese Gardens. It is said to be one of the best Japanese gardens in the entire United States. A title very proud of. Open in the summer months between May and October, it’s a great place to spend the day.
Honestly, the landscaping in the park is also great. Ornate bridges, Japanese lanterns, and amazing pagodas make this spot feel very relaxing.
Afterward, be sure to check out the Midway Village Museum and learn more about the local character and Illinois history.
Oh, and don’t forget to visit the Burpee Museum of Natural History. It houses thousands of exhibits and is a great place to check out everything from dinosaur skeletons to the native animals that grow in the area. Now, I might have made this sound like a pretty boring experience but trust me, it’s not!
4.) Starved Rock State Park
Perhaps mostly known for its gorgeous waterfalls, visiting Starved Rock State Park is one of the best things to do in Illinois. Its natural beauty attracts many visitors from all over the United States, and it deserves attention while you’re here.
The 13-mile Discovery Trail is one of the most favorite spots for visitors – although it can be quite strenuous if you’re not a big hiker. If you are not sure, book a guided tour.
We all know about the Windy City, right?
Well, visit Epic places in chicago Easily one of the best things to do in Illinois if you want to spend a vibrant city break.
Once here, it boasts some delicious restaurants, great museums, an extensive shopping mall, and even a miniature golf course.
When you are in the area, you can also catch live performances and go on boat trips as well. It’s worth it at sunset while looking out over Chicago. Next, be sure to check out Millennium Park, go to the Art Institute and discover the Skins Gate; Mega Chicago Bean!
Alton is another great place to stop as part of a road trip to visit some of the best things to do in Illinois. For a relatively small place it has a surprising amount to offer.
Once here, be sure to check out some of the most epic things to do, probably; See Kings Bond, Jane Austen House Museum and Alton Gardens. They are all great.
Oh, and don’t forget the limestone bluff is a must-do in Alton. They can be spotted along the Mississippi River.
Finally, to get a gift, go ahead Mississippi clay pottery. All of their local pottery is home made and is very beautiful.
7.) Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
The 2,200-acre Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is heaven for history buffs. While you don’t feel like this place is going to be just dated, it is one of the best things to do in Illinois bordering Missouri and the city of St. Louis.
See here, you’ll discover the archaeological remains of one of the most indigenous prehistoric civilizations in northern Mexico.
The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is said to have been home to about 10,000 to 20,000 people. Many of them were master builders. With many remains unearthed to this day.
Today, you can access the 800-acre open area, take a guided tour or hike the area on your own. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the Interpretive Center Gallery, Monks Mound, Grand Plaza, and Mound 72.
The capital of Illinois is the beautiful city of Springfield and is an easy place to visit on a road trip.
Way back, this was where Abraham Lincoln was born and has a lot of American history to learn all about.
Most of the buildings and attractions in Springfield revolve around Lincoln, so if you’re a fan or if you want to know more things about him, this is the place for you.
Be sure to check out the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, the Old State Capitol Building, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. They all contain such a detailed history and large amounts of artifacts related to President Lincoln.
You can visit his home, presidential library, and other places named after him.
9.) Great River Road
The Great River Road follows the flow of the Mississippi River for more than 550 miles along the state’s western edge. It’s a great route to take if you’re on a road trip in Illinois and are totally relaxing.
Along the way, you can also visit the small Midwestern towns of Alton, Galena, and Grafton. All are perfect little stops.
Great River Road is a lot different from the huge highways or busy streets of Chicago, so you can really take your time enjoying the scenery here.
Just don’t forget to plan on your road trip playlist! Nobody likes boring driving.
10.) The muhurst
Technically a part of Chicago, Elmhurst is the western suburb of the wider city.
When you’re in town, you’ll see art museums, parks, and shopping. It’s perfect to visit while driving west and well worth stopping for a few hours.
Once here, visit the Elmhurst Museum of Art, Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art, and Safari Land (to name a few)
Oh, and don’t forget to visit Brewpoint Coffee for some of the best brews in the area.
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