Lake Michigan, the Windy City and Route 66 all call Illinois home. This vibrant state is an exciting fusion of Midwestern hospitality and the cutting-edge vivacity of the northeast. With delicious signature delicacies like deep-dish pizza with sausage and the Chicago-style hot dog, there is an All-American fiber woven into the culture of the state.
Some of the state's many highlights include:
- The Windy City: On any list, Chicago ranks highly among the most vibrant and important cities in the United States. Filled with outstanding restaurants, elite galleries, exciting nightlife, professional sporting events and live entertainment, you could easily spend your entire visit to Illinois in Chicago.
- Champaign-Urbana: An intriguing regional city, Champaign-Urbana is a treasure waiting to be discovered. Surprisingly diverse, the city boasts some of the state's best museums and liveliest nightlife, and is a must-visit for college football fans as it's home to historic Memorial Stadium.
- Lewis and Clark Trail: This National Historic Trail that commemorates the journey of the nation's most famous pioneers, Lewis and Clark, the Lewis and Clark Trail starts in Illinois and meanders its way across the nation all the way to the Pacific Ocean. It is the best known of the four National Parks in Illinois.
- Shawnee National Forest: A scenic getaway in the southern part of the state, Shawnee National Forest is home to spectacular bluffs, rolling greenery and some of the best campgrounds in Illinois.
- Starved Rock State Park: If you're in Chicago and need a break from the urban hustle and bustle, this nearby State Park is a quiet oasis of perfectly preserved classic American natural beauty.
If you want to enjoy the best of Chicago's many festivals, the summer is the best time to visit. Between June and September, you can take part in Blues Fest, the Taste of Chicago festival, Lollapalooza and the city's renowned Jazz Fest. The state can get hot during the summer, though, so be sure to take advantage of the many water parks in Illinois if you're on a family holiday.
A vacation rental, such as a cabin if you're intent on enjoying nature or a condo if you're staying in the city, is an excellent accommodation option. Vacation rentals offer superior privacy, more space and more convenience to couples, families and groups alike.
Other popular Midwest attractions are just a hop, skip and jump away from Illinois, including Milwaukee and Spring Green in Wisconsin and the Indiana Dunes; you can even include these destinations as day trips if you're staying in Chicagoland for an extended period of time.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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