Illinois is a state located in the Midwestern United States. It is the 21st most extensive and the 18th most populous of the 50 United States. With over 100 miles of coastline on Lake Michigan, Illinois has a diverse geography that includes extensive prairies, forests, and hills. Illinois has a large number of attractions that can be enjoyed near the state, including Chicago, the largest city in the Midwest and the third-largest city in the United States.
Some thrilling things to do near Illinois include visiting the world-famous Chicago skyline, visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., visiting the USS Constitution Museum in Boston, and visiting the Niagara Falls.
- Things To Do In Illinois
- 1. Millennium Park
- 2. Lollapalooza
- 3. Illinois Beach State Park
- 4. Route 66 Motorheads Grill and Bar
- 5. Navy Pier
- 6. Art Institute of Chicago
- 7. Leaning Tower of Niles
- 8. Bahá’í House of Worship
- 9. Six Flags Great America
- 10. The Chocolate Sanctuary
- 11. Old Book Barn
- 12. Superdawg Drive-In
- 13. Lincoln Park Zoo
- 14. Cave-In-Rock
- 15. Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm
- 16. Winnetka
- 17. Shawnee National Forest
- 18. President Abraham Lincoln's Presidential Library and Museum
- 19. Funk Prairie Home Museum
- 20. Zipline and Adventure Park Go Ape
- 21. Blaum Bros. Distilling Co.
- 22. Starved Rock State Park
- 23. Calumet Fisheries
- 24. Aurora Farmers Market
- 25. Henry’s Rabbit Ranch
- 26. Harrah’s
- 27. Wolff’s Flea Market
- 28. The Viking
- 29. Belleville Christkindlmarkt
- 30. Mysterious Mineral Springs Hotel
- 31. Anderson Japanese Gardens
- 32. Grandview Drive
- 33. Chicagoland Skydiving Center
- 34. Chestnut Mountain Resort
- 35. Morton Arboretum
- 36. Fabyan Windmill
- 37. SeatGeek Stadium
- 38. Discovery Center Museum
- 39. Galena Cellars Vineyard
- 40. Lake Katherine
- 41. Strickler Planetarium
- 42. Water Works Indoor Water Park
- 43. Woodfield Mall
- 44. Buffalo Rock State Park
- 45. Granada Theatre
- 46. Poetry Foundation Library
- 47. Warren Dunes State Park
- 48. Onan’s Gold Pyramid House
- 49. Willis Tower
- Begin Planning Your Visit to Illinois
Illinois, also known as "the Prairie State" and "the Land of Lincoln," is a vacation destination that is brimming with possibilities.
From the gleaming metropolis of Chicago to the rolling farmlands of Poplar Grove, you can see and experience a wide range of sights and activities.
Nature lovers, for example, will enjoy hiking, climbing, camping, and kayaking in the mountains and rivers.
Many museums and landmarks associated with Abraham Lincoln, Native Americans, and the Civil War Era may be of interest to history buffs.
Shopaholics will appreciate the malls, and culture lovers will appreciate the galleries, vineyards, dance halls, and botanical gardens.
Throughout the year, Illinois also hosts a number of special events, including the world-famous Lollapalooza.
If you visit the region at the right time, you can enjoy the festivities alongside locals and visitors alike!
Are you ready to start making vacation plans?
Do you have a notebook with you?
Let us discuss the best and most memorable activities in Illinois.
Things To Do In Illinois
1. Millennium Park
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Millennium Park is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Illinois.
Even if you've never been there, you've probably seen it in a number of movies and TV shows.
The massive silver bean has entered the public consciousness.
Of course, there are other things to do besides go sightseeing.
You can take off your shoes and splash around in the Crown Fountain; you can headbang to an outdoor concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion; or you can relax in the beautiful, colorful Lurie Garden.
In Maggie Daley Park, you can even go roller blading and rock climbing!
It also doesn't matter what season you're visiting.
If it’s summer, go biking.
In the winter, go ice skating.
This is a never-ending destination.
Make time to visit Millennium Park.
It's a must-see for anyone visiting Illinois, especially those with a long bucket list full of popular tourist attractions!
Address: 201 East Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60602, USA
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Lollapalooza is inextricably linked with Illinois.
It's one of the most well-known music festivals in the world, so much so that clones have sprung up all over the place, from Europe to South America.
Every summer, it completely takes over the city of Chicago and does not let go for four days.
What activities are available at Lollapalooza?
While the rockin' outdoor concerts are the main draw, they are far from the only ones.
Art lovers can peruse the Art Market's paintings and sculptures, while foodies can visit Chow Town and its dozens of vendors selling everything from pork dumplings to lobster corn dogs.
For visitors of all ages, there are also games, activities, workshops, and a plethora of other activities.
Children under the age of ten are admitted for free!
If you're wondering what to do in the hazy late summer days of your Illinois vacation, Lollapalooza is a must-see.
Every year, over a quarter-million people flock to the lakefront to eat, drink, dance, and generally have the time of their lives.
Address: Chicago, IL, United States
3. Illinois Beach State Park
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You might not associate Illinois with sun-kissed beaches, but at Illinois Beach State Park, you can recline in the sand with a salt-rimmed margarita and feel like you're in the Caribbean.
Popular beach activities include swimming, boating, fishing, scuba diving, volleyball, and other activities.
Natural scenery such as canyons, sand dunes, and wetlands dotted with driftwood trees can be found in less populated areas.
If you want to do something other than swim, you can visit the black oak savanna for hiking, cycling, geocaching, and bird watching.
You can camp for days or have an afternoon picnic.
It’s up to you.
Place Illinois Beach State Park on your vacation itinerary.
It's worth a spot on the Illinois state map because it has so much fun to offer across so many different landscapes.
Address: 1 Lake Front Dr, Zion, Illinois 60099, USA
4. Route 66 Motorheads Grill and Bar
Route 66 Motorheads Grill and Bar
Route 66 conjures up images of sprawling road trips filled with diners, motels, and the wind blowing through your hair from top-down windows.
The good news is that when you visit a place like the Route 66 Motorheads Bar in Illinois, it doesn't have to be a fantasy!
The Motorheads Bar is a throwback that incorporates everything from classic cars in its decor to traditional trucker food on its menu.
Every parking space in the lot is taken up by vintage automobiles.
The walls are completely covered in faded Ford advertisements and Coca-Cola posters.
You can even play some old but fully functional arcade games!
It's not just a bar and restaurant, nor is it just a museum.
It’s all three combined.
If you're looking for cool things to do in Illinois, you won't want to miss the most famous of the state's attractions, and it doesn't get any more famous than Route 66.
For an epic pit stop on your cross-country road trip, kill your engine at Motorheads Bar.
Address: 600 Toronto Rd, Springfield, Illinois 62711, USA
If you're planning a trip to Springfield soon, why not look into some of the things to do in Springfield, IL?
5. Navy Pier
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Navy Pier is one of the most well-known attractions in the Midwest.
Its skyline has been featured on numerous postcards, and its activities range from dining and shopping to touring glass gardens and riding amusement park rides.
What is Navy Pier?
It's a 3,300-foot-long boardwalk along the shores of Lake Michigan that's jam-packed with cool things to see and do.
The Ferris wheel, which lights up at night, is the most well-known attraction, but there are also games, cruises, carousels, art shows, funhouse mazes, remote control boats, and other attractions.
The pier is also open all year, so whether you're visiting Chicago this weekend or three seasons from now, you can count on it being a constant presence in the city.
Don't miss out on the country's most famous boardwalk.
While you're in Illinois, check out Navy Pier and all of the amazing entertainment it has to offer!
Address: 600 East Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611, USA
6. Art Institute of Chicago
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Welcoming more than 1.With 5 million visitors per year, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of Illinois' most popular attractions.
It's also one of the country's oldest and largest art museums, so it's often mentioned alongside institutions like New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Washington, DC's National Gallery!
The museum's exhibits range from ancient textiles to modern art and photography.
There are over 300,000 works in total, and you're sure to recognize some of them, such as Pablo Picasso's The Old Guitarist and Grant Wood's American Gothic.
Aside from viewing the art, you can also participate in special events at the museum such as workshops, lectures, and semi-private tours with artists and curators.
Don't pass up the chance to visit one of the world's most revered art museums.
Make time to visit the Art Institute of Chicago if you're in town.
Address: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603, USA
7. Leaning Tower of Niles
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The Leaning Tower of Niles, located in Niles, Illinois, is a half-scale replica of the original.
Though it was not built for any official purpose, it was recognized by the Italian government in 1934, and Niles and Piza were soon established as sister cities.
Today, the tower is one of Niles' most popular tourist attractions.
It has four fountains and a pool, as well as a full arrangement of antique, still-ringing bells, and is a popular destination for tourists.
When the weather is nice, many musicians and buskers camp out in front of the tower, and it's a popular destination for joggers, painters, dog walkers, and food vendors.
You may never have the opportunity to visit Italy, but you can get a taste of it by visiting the Leaning Tower of Niles.
Schedule a visit and prepare your camera for all kinds of selfies!
Address: Niles, IL 60714, 6300 W Touhy Ave, United States
8. Bahá’í House of Worship
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You don't have to be religious to appreciate the Bahá' House of Worship's glory and rarity.
It is the only one of its kind in North America and one of only a few around the world.
Who would have guessed it was in Wilmette, Illinois?
But there it is, with its massive spherical architecture and dozens of windows encircling a great central dome.
There are chapels and prayer rooms on the inside, and nine outdoor gardens with fountains and other beautiful and peaceful features designed to evoke feelings of serenity on the outside.
Seeing them all will be difficult due to the vastness of the grounds, but it is doable.
If you are unfamiliar with the Bahá' religion, it is based on the teachings of a Persian prophet, and visiting its temple can teach you a lot about its beliefs and origins.
Visitors are always welcome, and admission is complimentary.
However, you do not have to be a Bahá' follower to experience spiritual stirrings at the sight of the Bahá' House of Worship.
It's one of the most beautiful places to visit in Illinois, and it can, if nothing else, restore your faith in a beautiful world.
Address: Wilmette, Illinois 60091, 100 Linden Ave
9. Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America, located in Gurnee, Illinois, is the region's largest amusement park, and it takes advantage of its location by offering both classic Six Flags fare and uniquely Midwestern rides, events, and activities.
Hometown Square, for example, is a country-themed area where everything has a boots-and-spurs charm.
There's also the Southwest Territory, a Wild West-themed area, and the County Fair, which perfectly captures the spirit of a rural festival.
Another fun fact: On a clear day, you can see the entire Chicago skyline, including Lake Michigan, from the 300-foot Sky Trek Tower.
It doesn't get any more epic than that for sightseeing!
Make time to visit Six Flags Great America if you're looking for fun vacation spots in Illinois.
It has all of the roller coasters and cotton candy you could want, but it's also one of Illinois' most popular attractions.
Address: 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, Illinois 60031, USA
10. The Chocolate Sanctuary
The Chocolate Sanctuary
You've probably heard of truffles, but have you ever tried truffle martinis?
You've had chocolate in a cake, but have you tried chocolate-based glazes on chicken breasts topped with nuts, peppers, and breadcrumbs?
These are just a few of the ways to enjoy The Chocolate Sanctuary's signature ingredient, which is a gourmet restaurant in Illinois.
It specializes in sweet and savory dishes that feature the cacao bean prominently.
Some put a chocolatey spin on old favorites, while others are entirely new creations that will have you saying "what?" followed by "oh, yum!"
One of the most decadent things to do in Illinois is to dine at The Chocolate Sanctuary.
Every aspect of your dining experience will be indulgent, from its smooth silk pies to its crusted barbecue pork chops.
Don’t feel guilty, however!
Everyone deserves to treat themselves every now and then!
Address: 5101 Washington Street, Gurnee, IL 60031, USA
11. Old Book Barn
Old Book Barn
Do you enjoy unusual vacation destinations?
If that's the case, you'll have a great time at the Old Book Barn.
It is 14,000 square feet in size and is crammed with old, rare, and used books, as well as arts, crafts, games, CDs, DVDs, and antiquities.
You're absolutely correct if this sounds like a trip back in time to a more nostalgic era.
Entering the barn is like going back in time.
Before Amazon and eBay, you had to find buried treasures on your own, which could entail sifting through a variety of flea market fare to unearth the gems beneath the junk.
That kind of vintage thrifting experience is still possible today, but you'll have to go to places like the Old Book Barn.
It's one of the more unusual things to see in Illinois, with its crowded bookshelves crammed with even more odds and ends, but its uniqueness is part of its charm.
While you're there, don't forget to say hello to the store cats!
Address: 126 US-51, Forsyth, Illinois 62535, USA
12. Superdawg Drive-In
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You can't go to Chicago and not try a Chicago-style hot dog.
It’s a must do.
Fortunately, the Superdawg Drive-In provides a fun and unique vacation experience that will fill both your stomach and your camera roll to overflowing.
The food isn't the only reason to go to Superdawg.
Though it serves a tasty hot dog on a poppy seed bun with piccalilli fries, its real draw is its 1950s-style carhop service.
You pull up to the neon lights that advertise the glitzy, boxy structure, and after you place your order, an employee will come out and hand it to you.
They will even put your straw in your milkshake!
The Superdawg Drive-In evokes a bygone era in Chicago, but that is precisely what makes it so unique.
The menu is excellent, and the service is vintage cool.
You should definitely mention Superdawg on your social media.
Address: 6363 N Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60646, USA
If you're planning a trip to Chicago, why not look into some of the things to do in Chicago?
13. Lincoln Park Zoo
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Oh, the lions, tigers, and bears!
The Lincoln Park Zoo is home to thousands of animals representing hundreds of different species, making it an excellent family-friendly destination for anyone visiting Illinois.
As an added bonus, it's one of America's last free admission zoos, so you won't have to pay anything to enjoy it.
The creatures range from owls to otters to octopi, and their habitats are as fascinating as their odd habits and mannerisms.
There are monkeys swinging, birds flying, and rhinos stomping and snorting to be seen.
Petting penguins, exploring gardens, dining at the on-site restaurant, and riding various trains and carousels are also options.
Adults are welcome to accompany their children!
Free tourist attractions don't appear every day, and even when they do, there's no guarantee that they'll be as good as the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Take advantage while you can, and while you're at it, make fun and lasting memories on your Illinois vacation.
Address: 2001 N Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60614, USA
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Cave-In-Rock is a village in southern Illinois, but most people are unfamiliar with the small cluster of houses and businesses.
Instead, they are familiar with it because of its most well-known tourist attraction.: a literal cave carved out of a rock by the river.
The cave used to be a haven for scum and villainy.
It was used by pirates to launch attacks on unsuspecting longboats transporting goods down the river; it was used by thieves, murderers, and outlaws as a safe haven where the authorities couldn't find them.
The cave was cleansed in the 1700s when a vigilante group descended on the area and rooted out all of the miscreants, and it was a place of peace for a while.
It even housed a church for a while!
However, the cave is now just a cool tourist attraction.
It's hidden away from prying eyes, making it one of the more unusual things to do in Illinois, but it's well worth the trip.
Its long and colorful history will make for an interesting story once you return home.
Address: IL 62919, United States
15. Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm
Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm
13 rides. 225 farm animals.
Over 100 meals and snacks.
This is just a taste of what's on offer at Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm, a family-friendly destination that's sure to instill a love of country living in your children!
Hay rides and petting zoos with cow-milking and goat-feeding experiences are among the activities available.
To get a thrill, ride the vintage train or plunge down the towering six-lane slide.
When you're hungry, dig into a hearty chuckwagon barbecue meal or snack on tasty treats like kettle corn and apple cider donuts.
Pig races and mechanical pumpkin launchers are two more unusual activities.
Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm is one of the best places to take children in Illinois.
Whether you have tiny tots or grumpy teenagers who will pretend they don't know who you are in the haunted barn, everyone will remember their time here.
Address: Homer Glen, Illinois 60491, 13341 W 151st St
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Winnetka, Illinois is a small town in the state's northeastern corner.
However, it’s anything but inconsequential: It has one of the wealthiest populations in America, with a median annual income of $207,000.
Visitors can gawk at the elaborate and expensive mansions that line the pretty, tree-shaded streets, including the Georgian mansion used in the first two Home Alone films.
There is also beach access, and the beaches have some of the cleanest coastlines in the state thanks to the well-to-do residents.
High-quality parks, museums, restaurants, and historical societies are among the other attractions.
While Winnetka isn't a popular tourist destination, it's definitely worth a visit if you're in that part of Illinois.
If nothing else, it's an opportunity to see how the upper crust of society lives, and while you're there, you can drink their imported coffee and swim in their pristine beach waters!
Address: Illinois, United States
17. Shawnee National Forest
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Illinois is best known for its skyscrapers, but there are plenty of natural wonders to behold once you leave the cities and enter the wilderness.
Shawnee National Forest is not the only one, but it is one of the best.
Sandstone rock formations that have remained intact for centuries can be found in the Garden of the Gods.
The River to River Trail is an epic journey through hills, cliffs, forests, and wetlands.
Jackson Falls has steep bluffs that lead to a beautiful waterfall; Cedar Lake has clear blue waters that are surrounded by a variety of lush green nature trails.
Camping and kayaking are two examples of outdoor activities, as are hiking and horseback riding.
Climbing, fishing, hunting, windsurfing, waterskiing, and renting an ATV/UTV for off-roading are also options.
Basically, if you can imagine it, you can probably achieve it.
Shawnee National Forest is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the United States, with towering trees and thundering waterfalls.
It's not just an Illinois wonder; it's a national wonder.
You should definitely pay it a visit.
Address: Herod, IL 62947, United States
18. President Abraham Lincoln's Presidential Library and Museum
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Did you know Abraham Lincoln was a Congressman from Illinois?
Most people remember him as the sixteenth President of the United States, and many have heard about his iconic birth in a log cabin, but the minor details of his political career are frequently overlooked.
This doesn’t apply to the President Abraham Lincoln's Presidential Library and Museum, however.
Every square inch of the structure is devoted to preserving the history of its namesake.
From his birth to his assassination, you can track Lincoln's entire life.
Full-size dioramas recreate some of his most extraordinary moments.
Photos, letters, documents, maps, and videos chronicle his rise from poverty to the presidency.
Some of the exhibits at the museum are quite grand, such as an original copy of the Gettysburg Address, while others are more mundane, such as a recreation of his glasses and shaving mirror.
If you’re a fan of honest Abe, the President Abraham Lincoln's Presidential Library and Museum is more than worth the price of admission.
It's a point of pride among Illinois attractions, and it'll give you incredible insight into one of the country's most popular leaders.
Address: 212 N 6th St, Springfield, Illinois 62701, USA
19. Funk Prairie Home Museum
Funk Prairie Home Museum
This museum, formerly known as the "Funk Gem and Mineral Museum," is dedicated to all things glitzy.
It houses a massive collection of gems, jewels, minerals, fossils, shells, corals, carvings, and other treasures.
The variety is all the more impressive given that it is a one-man show.
According to the owner, it is the world's largest private collection of minerals.
Other attractions at the museum include elaborate lapidary art and antique farm machinery.
History buffs can also explore a carefully preserved 1864 home.
If you're looking for something off the beaten path to do in Illinois, consider visiting the Funk Prairie Home Museum.
It provides a unique vacation experience that will last far longer in your memory than other, more generic attractions.
Address: Funk Prairie Home, 10875 Prairie Home Ln, Shirley, IL 61772, USA
20. Zipline and Adventure Park Go Ape
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With a menu that includes everything from ziplining to axe throwing, the Zipline and Adventure Park Go Ape will definitely satisfy your hunger for adventure.
It's one of the most exciting places to visit in Illinois for those who enjoy seeing the world from above.
The swings, ziplines, rope courses, suspension bridges, and bouncy treehouse nets are all located in the tree canopies.
Axe throwing, for example, is on the ground.
Things can be reserved by the hour or the course.
There are also adventure packages that combine multiple site features into one, so if you have an insatiable appetite and want to try everything, that is also an option.
Clear out this weekend’s schedule.
It’s time to embrace your inner monkey and go hurtling through the treetops at Zipline and Adventure Park Go Ape.
Address: Western Springs, Illinois 60558, 1100 Ogden Ave
21. Blaum Bros. Distilling Co.
Blaum Bros. Distilling Co.
The Blaum Bros. was founded by two brothers who discovered that "the only way they could get along was to drink whiskey with each other.". Distilling Co. is one of the most interesting places to visit in Illinois.
It's also one of the best places to get drunk!
The company is staffed by a laid-back crew that will welcome you to tour the facility as if you were a friend rather than a customer.
You'll get to see everything, from the distillery to the barrel room to the cocktail bar, and you'll be treated to numerous samples of their homemade specialty brews along the way.
Another fun fact: If your name is Gus, you can get a free tour!
If you're thirsty in Illinois, consider stopping by the Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. located in Galena.
It will provide an authentic brewery experience in an Illinois town known for its beer, but it will also provide a no-fuss, no-stress experience for someone who just wants a cold one on vacation.
Address: 9380 US Highway 20 West, Galena, IL 61036, USA
22. Starved Rock State Park
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How can you pass up a destination with a name like Starved Rock State Park?
The good news is that it is as cool and glamorous as its name implies.
The park's collection of waterfalls is unquestionably its highlight.
The falls are formed by glacial meltwater flowing incessantly across sandstone and range from gentle and peaceful trickles to thunderous waves crashing into the rocks below.
Many of them discharge into the Illinois River.
Other picturesque locations include mossy rock formations, flower-lined trails, and forested hills where you can see a variety of wildlife.
If you're lucky, you might see a bald eagle flying overhead.
Starved Rock State Park is one of the most impressive places to visit in Illinois, regardless of whether you enjoy nature or not.
After a few hours in the park, you'll be one.
It’s that awesome.
Address: 2678 East 875th Road, Oglesby, IL 61348, USA
23. Calumet Fisheries
Calumet Fisheries isn't your typical seafood restaurant.
It's one of the last remaining restaurants that smokes its fish over wood-burning fires, making it a rare and valuable culinary establishment.
Anthony Bourdain agreed: When he came to visit, he scribbled a glowing review on the wall, and that love note is still legible today, despite being bleached by the sun and the reverent touch of many hands.
The restaurant is not ostentatious in any way.
The term "shack" is accurate, and many people don't even use its few tables and chairs, preferring to eat on the go instead.
However, if you enjoy seafood, you simply must try its menu.
The seafood is brined overnight and smoked over wood logs for hours.
As a result, fatty salmon, stout sturgeon, jumbo shrimp, and even the occasional round of smokehouse eel are produced.
Many things to do in Illinois involve eating until you're stuffed, and if you're up for the challenge, stop by Calumet Fisheries.
This type of fish is literally unavailable anywhere else.
Address: 3259 East 95th Street, Chicago, IL 60617, USA
24. Aurora Farmers Market
Aurora Farmers Market
The produce is piled high on the tables.
The vendors sell everything from artisan cheeses to freshly baked bread and freshly pickled vegetables.
Every time there is a breeze, jewelry jingles.
This is the Aurora Farmers Market, one of Illinois's oldest farmer's markets.
It's a summertime staple and a great place to stock up on food, spices, crafts, plants, seeds, and other necessities.
In addition to the buying and selling, live music is frequently performed for visitors, and the atmosphere is always friendly as people chat with one another.
The Aurora Farmers Market may not appear in many travel guides, but it's one of the best places to go if you're looking for hidden gems in Illinois.
It has an unrivaled history, and its selection is nearly as impressive.
If you happen to be in Aurora during your vacation, give it a shot.
Address: Aurora, IL 60505, United States 65 Water St
25. Henry’s Rabbit Ranch
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One of the best parts of Route 66 are the roadside attractions, especially when they're as odd as Henry's Rabbit Ranch.
A section of the website is dedicated to real-life rabbits, while another section is dedicated to Volkswagen Rabbits.
Both are represented by various arts and crafts, posters, and tin signs, as well as merchandise for sale such as t-shirts and key chains.
The real rabbits will be delighted to see you when they emerge from their hutches.
Posing and photograph opportunities are available with the mechanical Rabbits.
The owner, a regular guy with a side project, is always willing to come out and talk about your travels.
Another thing to note is that the "ranch" is actually designed to look like a vintage gas station, complete with red tanks and a wooden roof, making it ideal for some artistically off-the-wall photos.
Make sure to bring your camera, shutterbugs!
Overall, Henry's Rabbit Ranch is a fun and unique destination that should be on your list of things to do in Illinois.
After all, how many chances will you get in your life to visit a place like this?
Address: 1107 Historic Old Route 66, Staunton, IL 62088, USA
With a stay at Harrah's, you can bring a little of Las Vegas to your vacation.
Though its headquarters are in Sin City, it has locations throughout the United States, including Metropolis, Illinois.
The hotel provides luxurious amenities such as high-class suites with river views.
The casino downstairs has literally hundreds of games, including slots, craps, poker, blackjack, roulette, and more.
When you're winning big, time doesn't matter, and you don't even have to worry about the clock; the casino is only closed for two hours a day, from 6AM to 8AM.
If you get hungry, go into the restaurant for tasty menu items like rib eye steaks and grilled fish fillets.
Try a signature cocktail in the lush and plush lounge when you're thirsty.
Harrah's is the epitome of opulence when it comes to vacation destinations.
Consider it an added bonus that you can do so in Illinois rather than Nevada.
Address: 100 East Front Street, Metropolis, IL 62960, USA
27. Wolff’s Flea Market
Wolff’s Flea Market
Wolff's Flea Market is one of Illinois' more unusual attractions, but if you like the quirky and unusual, you'll enjoy this sprawling outdoor complex that springs from the grass every Sunday from April to October.
Clothes, crafts, furniture, jewelry, and trinkets are common finds.
Stranger items could include full-body taxidermy animals and antiques with hidden compartments.
Food is another big draw in the market, with everything from vendors selling locally-sourced honey to food trucks selling pizza bites and ice cream sundaes.
As an added bonus, restrooms are available.
Overall, if you're looking for interesting places to visit in Illinois, consider Wolff's Flea Market.
It may lack the gleaming spires of a shopping mall, but its old, authentic, and often homemade goods have their own unique charm.
Address: 6920 N. Mannheim, Rosemont, Illinois 60018, USA
28. The Viking
You might not expect to see a Viking ship in Illinois, but guess what?
It's a reality at Geneva, Illinois' Good Templar Park.
This impressive piece of craftsmanship, commissioned in the late 1800s, is an exact replica of the Gokstad, a more famous Viking ship from the past.
It was built in Norway and sailed to the United States for the Chicago World's Fair, but the ship remained on land after the fair's lights were turned off.
It's now one of the coolest tourist attractions in Illinois, thanks to its location in a glass-topped observation area in the middle of a park.
You can visit the fields, pavilions, bandstands, and picnic areas and then return to see the old Viking relics!
If you're looking for fun and unusual things to do on vacation, check out the Viking ship.
Although Illinois is known as Lincoln's Land, the Scandinavians can also claim a small portion of it.
Address: 528 East Side Dr, Geneva, IL 60134, USA, Good Templar Park
29. Belleville Christkindlmarkt
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Ho ho ho!
Belleville Christkindlmarkt, which literally translates to "Christmas market," is modeled after the picturesque Christmas towns of Germany, which date all the way back to the 16th century.
Rather than traveling abroad, you can stay in Illinois and spend the holidays with your entire family.
With the word "market" in the name, you'd think there'd be a lot of shops, and you'd be right.
You can buy a variety of homemade goods here.
There are also numerous food items available, ranging from spiced butters and jams to colorful gingerbread houses complete with all the trimmings.
Concerts, carols, sleigh rides, wood carving demonstrations, and reindeer petting zoos are also options for entertainment.
If you're looking for a cold-weather marathon, you can even sign up for a "gingerbread run"!
If you're in the mood for some holiday cheer, the Belleville Christkindlmarkt is one of the best places to visit in Illinois during the winter.
You can not only enjoy everything from twinkling lights to steaming mugs of hot cocoa, but because it's a market, you can also pick up souvenirs to take home and remember the experience all year.
Merry Christmas and a good night to everyone!
Address: 30 Public Square, Belleville, Illinois 62220, USA
30. Mysterious Mineral Springs Hotel
Mysterious Mineral Springs Hotel
Prepare to have a spooky good time at the Mysterious Mineral Springs Hotel.
Though it is advertised as a healing center due to its crystal-based energies, it is better known for paranormal hauntings.
In recent years, the owners have capitalized on this reputation by organizing a number of tours and events based on local legends.
The Historic Museum of Torture Devices, for example, is open two days a week for those who want to gaze at grisly and gruesome tools from previous centuries.
For those who want to peer into every dark corner of the haunted hotel, Haunted Tours are available.
Ghost hunts are also popular, especially around Halloween, when the line between the living and the dead is said to be thinnest.
However, you don't have to wait until Halloween to enjoy spooky tidings in Illinois.
At the Mysterious Mineral Springs Hotel, you can experience thrills and chills from a variety of attractions and activities that are all conveniently located in the same location.
Now that’s scary!
Address: 301 East Broadway, Alton, IL 62002, USA
31. Anderson Japanese Gardens
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The Anderson Japanese Gardens do not require any prior knowledge of Japanese culture to appreciate.
It's a vividly beautiful spot for people of all walks of life, so even if you can't tell your sushi from your sakura, you can appreciate the elegance and refinement of its landscapes.
Take a walk through the gardens, which include ponds, streams, flowers, and footbridges.
Look deeply into the reflecting pools surrounded by ferns and sculptures.
Visit an old-fashioned tea house or go on a hike until you reach a waterfall.
In a place like this, there are numerous ways to find your inner zen.
Furthermore, if you are interested in Japanese culture, you will have numerous opportunities for social and cultural exploration.
From tea ceremonies to poetry and music performances, you can immerse yourself in a world very different from your own.
Anderson Japanese Gardens is a popular tourist attraction in Illinois.
It is so well-known that the Japanese government officially recognized it for its efforts to promote international friendship.
Visit the gardens for a fun and educational experience!
Address: 318 Spring Creek Rd, Rockford, Illinois 61107, USA
32. Grandview Drive
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Are you on a tight budget?
Grandview Drive is a free sightseeing opportunity that you can enjoy by driving, biking, or walking.
The entire route is 2 miles long.5 miles in Peoria, Illinois, and both roads and sidewalks are available for various modes of transportation.
From gleaming bodies of water to gently swaying trees guarding parks and playgrounds, you'll see it all.
Flowers bloom in every color in the spring, and leaves cover the ground in the fall.
President Theodore Roosevelt dubbed this route "the world's most beautiful drive" when he visited it in the early 1900s.”
Did we mention it's totally free?
There is no entrance fee, so you can enjoy it at your leisure.
Consider a hike or drive through Grandview Drive if you're looking for cheap things to do in Illinois.
It more than lives up to its name in terms of grand, beautiful sights, and at only two miles long, it's easy to enjoy while traveling to larger tourist attractions.
Address: Illinois, United States
33. Chicagoland Skydiving Center
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Why not see everything in Illinois if you're wondering what to see?
A skydiving trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that will provide you with incredible and unforgettable views of the Prairie State.
One of several companies that offers tandem skydiving with professionally trained jumpers is the Chicagoland Skydiving Center.
Despite the name, it is not in Chicago; it is about an hour west in the city of Rochelle.
The remote location allows for safer, less obstructed jumps into vast, sweeping landscapes that are breathtaking from above.
Another great feature of the center is its "Freefall University," which teaches you how to obtain a skydiving license and jump on your own.
This takes some time, but if you're going to be in Illinois for a while, it's something to think about.
The Chicagoland Skydiving Center is a must-see for adrenaline junkies and thrill seekers.
Whether you're jumping with a pro or flying solo, it's an experience you won't soon forget.
Address: Rochelle, IL 61068, United States 1207 E Gurler Rd
34. Chestnut Mountain Resort
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The rain does not have to derail your vacation plans.
In fact, the rain may enhance the ambiance of your roaring fireplace and frost-covered windows at Chestnut Mountain Resort.
Of course, it exists primarily as a ski resort, so there will be plenty of cool places to visit while whizzing down the slopes.
The powdery terrain is suitable for skiing, snowboarding, and even "alpine sliding.".
When the weather in Illinois isn't cooperating, the Chestnut Mountain Resort is still a lot of fun.
Its villa provides everything from restaurants to hotels for an all-inclusive cliffside experience.
Consider visiting Chestnut Mountain Resort if you're wondering what to do on a rainy day in the Prairie State.
It's one of the best places to visit in Illinois regardless of the weather, so it should be at the top of your list.
Address: 8700 West Chestnut Mountain Road, Galena, IL 61036, USA
35. Morton Arboretum
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The Morton Arboretum, located in Lisle, is home to over 200,000 plants, with the possibility that more have yet to be discovered and catalogued.
Botanists, horticulturists, and anyone else who can appreciate the full splendor of such amazing plant life will be in heaven.
The arboretum spans 1,700 acres and includes landscapes ranging from prairies and woodlands to marshes and bogs.
Many of the most beautiful places have a remote, rugged feel to them, but there are also well-kept gardens with neat and tidy trails to follow for a leisurely afternoon among the flowers.
A library and a visitor's center are also interesting places to visit if you want to learn more about the amazing things you're seeing.
Avoid driving past the Morton Arboretum.
It's a big draw for Lisle, and if you like natural history, it'll be one of the best vacation spots for you as well.
Address: 4100 IL-53, Lisle, Illinois 60532, USA
36. Fabyan Windmill
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The Fabyan Windmill is one of the most interesting sights in America.
It's also one of the most unusual architecturally.
The Fabyan Windmill, you see, is a meticulous recreation of an authentic Dutch windmill.
Though it has undergone numerous renovations over the years, residents have kept its spirit alive by carefully preserving its foundational elements while also hiring millwrights from the Netherlands who understand what its design should be like.
The end result is a gloriously vintage windmill that looks like it came straight from a Dutch postcard.
It's a popular tourist attraction, and it's also a popular sledding spot in the winter.
Locals refer to it as "the windmill hill.".”
If you enjoy history, culture, or man-made infrastructure, the Fabyan Windmill is a must-see in Illinois.
Address: 1500 Crissey Ave, Batavia, Illinois 60510, USA
37. SeatGeek Stadium
Wrigley Field in Chicago is well-known, but what if you prefer soccer to baseball?
What if you want to watch concerts, rugby matches, bike races, and the occasional game of lacrosse?
SeatGeek Stadium, located in Bridgeview, Illinois, is a mid-sized venue that has hosted a variety of events over the years.
It is primarily dedicated to soccer, but it has also hosted many other types of sporting events, as well as rock bands, country singers, and other performers.
The cheap seats go all the way around the field, and VIP suites are available if you prefer luxurious vacation destinations.
You can dine and drink in style while watching the action below.
Finally, while SeatGeek Stadium isn't the most well-known attraction in Chicago, it's still worth a visit.
It fills a much-needed void for soccer fans and can provide a fun, popcorn-filled experience if you're in northern Illinois.
Address: Bridgeview, Illinois 60455, 7000 S Harlem Ave
38. Discovery Center Museum
Discovery Center Museum
The Discovery Center Museum is a top ten destination for families traveling with children in Illinois.
Despite the fact that it calls itself a museum, it's a far cry from the stuffy mausoleums where your children are forced to tiptoe around.
Instead, it's a cheerful, upbeat environment where curiosity is encouraged and discovery is rewarded.
Bubble stations, laser tables, flight simulators, and full-sized models of planes, trains, and tractors are among the exhibits.
Kids can let off steam in two-story mazes or express themselves creatively in art studios and career booths.
Outside, the adjacent Rock River Discovery Park provides even more opportunities for play.
Slides, crawl tubes, water wheels, and sand pits filled with dinosaur bones just waiting to be excavated are available for children.
Put the Discovery Center Museum at the top of your list of things to do in Illinois with kids.
Everyone, including adults, can have a good time here.
You can never be too old to ooh and ahh over dinosaur fossils!
Address: 711 N Main St, Rockford, Illinois 61103, USA
39. Galena Cellars Vineyard
Galena Cellars Vineyard
You don't have to go to Bordeaux to find good wine.
The Galena Cellars Vineyard is well-known among Illinois attractions for its delectable vintages as well as its breathtaking scenery in Galena's rolling hills.
Visitors can tour the outdoor vineyard as well as the indoor barrel rooms to see how their favorite red wines are made.
There is a tasting room where you can sample various bottles, and quaint, country-style cottages can be rented for everything from romantic getaways to overnight business trips.
If you enjoy artisan cheeses and sausages, you can pair them with your wine.
Otherwise, bring your own picnic and relax under the trees for a beautiful, peaceful nature experience.
When you have a place like Galena Cellars Vineyard, who needs Bordeaux?
Address: 4746 N Ford Rd, Galena, Illinois 61036, USA
40. Lake Katherine
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Lake Katherine is less well-known than Lake Michigan, but any Illinois native will tell you that it is still one of the best and most beautiful places to visit.
The lake is a gleaming jewel surrounded by lush grasses and sandy shores.
Waterfalls nestled among rock formations in the trees, and wetlands provide ample opportunities for wildlife viewing.
There are plenty of prairies with wide-open skies stretching as far as the eye can see, as befits the Prairie State.
Activities at the lake range from water sports to excursions around the cliffs.
When you need to get away from the outdoors, visit the visitor's center, which has informative displays on birds, trees, shrubs, and other flora and fauna native to Illinois.
Lake Katherine is a great place to have fun.
The only question is what kind of fun you'll choose to have.
Address: Illinois, United States
41. Strickler Planetarium
The Strickler Planetarium, one of only eight in the entire state of Illinois, isn't the largest or most technologically advanced, but it has the advantage of being located in a small, picturesque town that is a charming tourist destination in its own right.
Traditional star-and-planet shows are included, as well as fun specialty shows like "The Ooky Spooky Light Show" and "Attack of the Space Pirates.".”
Many of them use the dome shape of the planetarium to project 3D images that truly bring celestial objects to life.
When you're finished with the planetarium, explore the town of Bourbonnais, which has red brick buildings and white picket fences.
If you couldn't make it to Chicago's Navy Pier, Bourbonnais has a Ferris wheel, so you can cross "ride into the clouds" off your list of Illinois things to do.
Finally, if you want to see the sky, a visit to the Strickler Planetarium is worthwhile.
Consider it one of the state's major points of interest.
Address: 1 University Avenue, Bourbonnais, IL 60914, USA
42. Water Works Indoor Water Park
Water Works Indoor Water Park
There are many places in Illinois to see water slides, but the Water Works Indoor Water Park is one of the few that is entirely indoors, so you don't have to worry about cold or rainy weather ruining your trip.
The park has tunnels, whirlpools, playgrounds, diving lanes, rapid water channels, and other attractions.
The entire family can splash around; there are designated areas for the youngest swimmers in your family, and adults can ride the larger slides alongside the children.
Water-based playground equipment is also available for traditional fun with an aquatic twist.
Have you ever walked across monkey bars over a pool?
If you're looking for clean, all-ages attractions that everyone in your family can enjoy, make a butterfly stroke to Water Works Indoor Water Park.
Address: 505 North Springinsguth Road, Schaumburg, IL 60194, USA
43. Woodfield Mall
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The Woodfield Mall is a must-see destination in Illinois, attracting over 27 million visitors per year.
It's the state's largest mall, and it has so many cool things to do that you could spend all day wandering around inside and still not see everything!
The stores, of course, are the main draw, and you can find everything from upscale fashion boutiques to cheap phone kiosks within the sparkling, brightly-lit corridors.
However, there's a lot more where that came from.
A food court serves a variety of foods, including fish, steak, sushi, burritos, gyros, and massive cheese-dipped pretzels.
A bowling alley allows you to bowl in the lanes or play arcade games and laser tag.
There's even a comedy club where you'll laugh until your sides hurt.
Other events include book signings and live concerts performed right in the mall.
There's always something new on the agenda, so it's definitely worth checking it out ahead of time.
Are you looking for ways to have fun in Illinois?
Whether you're visiting the Land of Lincoln this weekend or next summer, the Woodfield Mall has something for you.
Address: 5 Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, Illinois 60173, USA
44. Buffalo Rock State Park
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Though less well-known than some of Illinois' other green spaces, Buffalo Rock State Park is well worth a visit, especially if you enjoy history.
This park has a strong connection to the Native American tribes who lived in the area prior to European settlement.
To begin, the name alludes to the fact that tribes used to drive buffalo off the rocks in order to use their meat, fur, and bone.
There's also a bluff that was once an entire island on the Illinois River; today, the waters have receded, leaving only the rock and the breathtaking view from atop it.
When you leave the rugged wilderness and enter more developed areas, you'll find bathrooms, playgrounds, athletic fields, and art sculptures dedicated to preserving the legacy of the original Native Americans.
Overall, Buffalo Rock State Park is one of the best places to visit in Illinois.
It's packed with culture, history, and beauty, making it an ideal destination for travelers of all ages.. as long as you're not afraid of heights.
Address: 1300 N. 27th Rd, Ottawa, IL 61350, USA
45. Granada Theatre
The Granada Theatre, located in Mount Vernon's historic district, is an old and grandiose building that once housed a movie theater.
It showed vintage films, sold war bonds, and served as a tourist attraction for the city with its vintage-style marquee throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
However, ticket sales fell over time, and it wasn't until the theater was renovated into a live performance hall that it regained its former glory.
Today, you can see a variety of shows at the theater, including plays, musicals, and comedy shows.
It's also a popular location for wedding receptions and other elegant events that could use a little glitz.
If you're looking for Illinois attractions that offer more than just cheap entertainment, go to the Granada Theatre.
Art, theater, and high-society culture are all rolled into one at historic sites like this.
Address: 108 N 9th St, Mount Vernon, IL 62864, USA
46. Poetry Foundation Library
Poetry Foundation Library
This is another destination that isn't mentioned in many travel guides, but if you keep an open mind, you can find many hidden gems in Illinois.
The Poetry Foundation Library is one such location.
This library, founded in 1912, is one of only a few in the world dedicated solely to poetry.
As such, it's one of the Midwest's main points of interest, and it's amassed over 30,000 books over the years from people looking to preserve the lovely words of bygone writers.
Other interesting areas of the library include archives, exhibits, reading rooms, and listening booths where you can hear great poets recite their poetry.
When you tell people that the Poetry Foundation Library is on your list of "must dos" in Illinois, they may be surprised, but this is no ordinary library.
It's a place where you can get lost in whole new worlds created by nothing more than the imaginations of long-lost wordsmiths.
Address: 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL 60654, USA
47. Warren Dunes State Park
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Warren Dunes State Park is one of Illinois' most beautiful places, with its sweeping sand dunes sweeping dramatically across the coast.
Its proximity to Lake Michigan contributes to its allure.
There's a diverse biological landscape here, with everything from crystal clear beaches to alpine-esque trees and groves, so whether you're looking for a summer getaway or a fall drive through the changing leaves, you'll find it here.
Hiking, camping, swimming, stargazing, and jet skiing are some of the other activities available.
At certain parts of the beach, you can even bring out your metal detector and comb the sand for buried treasure!
Do you like nature photography?
Do you want to hop in a postcard and spend some time immersed in nature photography?
Gather your equipment and head to Warren Dunes State Park.
The sights are incredible, and because campers are always welcome in the park, you can see them both day and night.
Address: Sawyer, MI 49125, 12032 Red Arrow Hwy, United States
48. Onan’s Gold Pyramid House
Onan’s Gold Pyramid House
The Onan's Gold Pyramid House, another roadside oddity that must be seen to be believed, is a massive golden pyramid built by two Illinois cultists in the 1970s.
If you need a minute to process that sentence, read it again.
It's completely bizarre, but that's exactly why it's so appealing.
Construction began after Jim and Linda Onan, a married couple, began believing in the "pyramid power" theory.
They constructed an entire Egyptian-style pyramid plated in 24 karat gold, surrounded by a moat guarded by a 50-foot statue of King Tut.
Inside, things are a little less strange; there's a museum-worthy collection of Egyptian artifacts, so learning about them will be genuinely educational.
China, masks, jewelry, statuary, gold pottery, and a life-sized replica of King Tut's throne are among the items on display.
Finally, if you're looking for unusual things to see and do on vacation, nothing beats a golden Egyptian pyramid smack dab in the middle of a small Illinois town.
Address: Wadsworth, Illinois 60083, 37921 N Dilleys Rd
49. Willis Tower
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Last but not least, if you're looking for an epic way to see Chicago, consider climbing the Willis Tower.
It towers 1,450 feet above Chicago and provides numerous opportunities for thrill seekers to take their breath away.
For example, The Ledge is a series of glass-bottomed platforms that span the side of the tower and allow you to stand in the middle of the sky.
There's also the Sky Deck, which has floor-to-ceiling views in all directions.
You can see four different states on the horizon on clear days; on rainy or hazy days, you can marvel at being on top of the clouds.
The Willis Tower is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Illinois.
It's not just a Chicago thing; it's an Illinois thing as well.
If you're passing through the Midwest, you should definitely make time for it!
Address: 233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60606, USA
Begin Planning Your Visit to Illinois
Malls, museums, farms, vineyards, and skyscrapers are just a few of the things to do in Illinois that will make for an unforgettable vacation.