The Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Illinois

places to visit in illinois

The Land of Lincoln is a bustling metropolis that has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to explore small villages or relax on the shores of Lake Michigan, Illinois has it all!

The American Midwest may be known as The Heartland but don’t let its geographical location fool you; this area offers endless opportunities in terms of not only attractions but also cuisine – there are plenty of great places here waiting to be discovered by travelers like yourself who want more than just field trips and museum stops when visiting an unfamiliar place ̶ we’ve rounded up our favorites below. Let’s explore places to visit in Illinois:

Top 10: Anderson Japanese Gardens

Anderson Japanese Gardens

Anderson Japanese Gardens have been a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to explore their natural beauty. These gardens were originally created in 1978 by Bill Anderson, who had a vision of creating an oasis from the busy city life around him while teaching people about his love for gardening through this project – it’s since become one of California’s most sought-after tourist attractions!

The Anderson Japanese Gardens is a spectacular garden that has one of the best views in all of America. The third-largest city and location within Illinois, Rockford offers visitors an extraordinary day out with its seasonal gardens open between May and October when everything at this site will be beautifully maintained for your enjoyment!

The Garden of Reflection is more than just plants, it’s carefully and methodically planned with natural water features that will make you feel like you are in heaven. The bridge leading up to the garden has a beautiful view where visitors can snap pictures or take time for reflection before continuing on their journey!

Top 9: Champaign-Urbana


This scenic area of Illinois is home to the world-famous University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Filled with rolling hills, quaint towns, and incredible views this part of central America may be just what you’re looking for!

The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana is one the biggest universities in America, with over 35 thousand students and three different campuses. The main campus lies next to downtown Urbana where you’ll find trendy bars that cater toward college-aged folks all night long!

Embrace the spirit of higher education by checking out our Spurlock Museum, which houses a fascinating collection from across the globe. Whether you’re looking for some tasty coffee or are doing your weekly shopping at The Market on Saturdays, this lively place is sure to make it worth your while!

Top 8: Tunnel Hill State Trail

Tunnel Hill State Trail

The Tunnel Hill State Trail is a great way to get out and experience nature. The scenery changes constantly as it follows the ridgeline, making for an exciting ride every time!

The Tunnel Hill State Trail is a hidden treasure in Illinois worth checking out. The trail only spans five miles but passes through several long tunnels, including one that’s just under two hundred feet tall! If you’re looking for some fresh air and scenery on your next adventure then head over here – there are no other amenities along the way so make sure to bring plenty of water with you though it does have access points near Vienna where travelers can refill their supplies if needed before starting out into nature again (or at least get something easy like Gluhwein).

Top 7: Lincoln’s New Salem

Lincoln's New Salem

Lincoln’s New Salem is a place of great importance to America. Not only did it play host for the first Presidential debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, but also John Kennedy made his final decision on which politician would be able to save him from being nominated as president at this site in the 1960s when everything seemed lost.

Before you go to Lincoln’s New Salem, I’d recommend that if possible take a trip back in history with an audio tour. There are 23 buildings that have been recreated for visitors and each one has its own guide who can tell tales from early America as well as provide insights on what life would’ve been like at the time period when these structures were originally built over 160 years ago!

The family in this old photo is so authentic, it feels like they could be my ancestors. The furniture and outfits are all accurate to what would have been worn at that time period!

Top 6: Shawnee National Forest

Shawnee National Forest

The Shawnee National Forest is a beautiful place to spend time outdoors. The area has hiking trails and forest preserves that are full of wildlife, as well as many things for visitors to do in their spare time such as camping or fishing on local lakes!

The Shawnee National Forest is a perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors. It’s located in southernmost Oklahoma and was once covered by an ancient ice sheet millions of years ago, but thankfully that melts now! With hiking trails for all levels; swimming holes with cool refreshing water on hot days; scenic views from blinds campsites – there are plenty of opportunities here for fun outdoor activities like camping or photography.

The Garden of the Gods is a must-see for any traveler. This stunning rock formation will bring back memories to anyone who recognizes it from Illinois’ quarter, and there’s no better way to take in its beauty than with an easy observation trail around you while looking up at this natural wonder!

Top 5: Cahokia Mounds

Cahokia Mounds

The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Park is one of the most fascinating landmarks in our country. More than 800 years ago, American Indians built this great city and inscribed it with beautiful mounds that represent their power to survive against incredible odds – as any good leader should do!

The largest of these mounds is Monks Mound, and it stands more than 100 feet tall. Another interesting part about Cahokia is Woodhenge’s 48 wooden posts which align with the solar calendar to make this circle similar in nature to Stonehenge England.

Top 4: Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park

The best way to experience the beauty of Starved Rock State Park is by hiking on its trails. Whether you want an easy, family-friendly walk or a more rugged and adventurous hike with steep slopes and jagged rocks – there’s something for everyone!

Starved Rock State Park is a little-known wonder of Illinois. The park, less than 100 miles from Chicago and just off the banks of one of its most popular rivers -the Illini Sandstone Canyons that were formed by glaciers melting!

Hiking in Starved Rock State Park is a great way to experience this natural wonder. The best views of the canyon are accessible via trails from Lover’s Leap Overlook, and you may spot deer or migrating birds along your journey!

Top 3: Galena


Galena is a small town in Illinois that was once known for its gold. The Galenas pier attracts visitors who want to see how old-fashioned trains operate, but what has really put this area on the map? You’ll need your passport because you’re bound to come back with some new stories!

If you’re looking for a place in Illinois that has a fascinating history to explore, then the city of Galena is exactly what you need. With time-capsule-like buildings and architecture dating back well before 1900 when it was last on major trade routes with other nations across oceans – this small Midwestern town still packs an incredible wallop!

Strolling down Main Street is a must for those who want to explore Galena since countless mom-and-pop stores housed in 19th-century buildings line the street. You can also use one of two pedestrian bridges that cross over each other as an entry point between downtown areas. The first bridge leads into Grant Park where there are beautiful flowers from all different types growing side by side together – it’s absolutely stunning!

Top 2: Springfield


Springfield is a place where even the most jaded traveler will find themselves enchanted. Whether you’re looking for an escape from big city life, or just some time away from your phone and laptop in order to take in this beautiful world around us all at once – Springfield has what we’re craving!

The capital of the state is Springfield, which was once home to our 16th president Abraham Lincoln. If you’re interested in all things Lincoln then this place will not disappoint!

There are many different things to do in Lincoln, but some of the best include visiting the historic site where he lived for more than 17 years at The Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Other sites you should definitely see while here includes Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum which covers all aspects of his presidency from 1861-65 during America’s Civil War era with plenty on display that relates back towards slavery days before the 1860s when it ended!

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Top 1: Chicago


Chicago is a city known for its architecture and landmarks. One of those many things you can see in Chicago, Illinois with your own two eyes? The Willis Tower – also called the Sears Tower – was built back when it first opened up during Chicagoland’s population boom times!

Chicago is a city that has so much to offer, and it’s easy to see why this Midwestern metropolis would be the most popular destination in Illinois. The Loop area of town offers visitors many different things from world-class art museums like the Chicago Institute Of Art or Millennium Park – which features one very famous reflective sculpture: “The Bean”.

The architecture and skyline of Chicago are world-famous, with landmarks such as the Aon Center that was constructed by Mies van der Rohe. On a walking tour, you can see many more impressive buildings like this curved Chase Tower or mid-century Federal center built in an innovative style for its time period – all made even more fascinating when they’re explained to serve different purposes now instead!