Traveling to the state of Illinois gives you great many possibilities in the way of sightseeing or activities. From north to south, the state has many exciting places to go - and some great places just to get away from it, too, if you prefer that kind of a vacation.
One of the most popular places to see - if you are looking for excitement, is Chicago
. This large city has just about every form of activity you can think of - and then a few more. Getting around the downtown area is made easier with free trolley service that runs between Memorial Day and Labor Day. They run every day at 30 minutes apart, and make pick-ups at designated signs.
Starting with things and places to see in Illinois, this city has more attractions and museums than you could see in a couple of weeks. The most well known attractions, though, include the Adler Planetarium, the Art Institute of Chicago, The Brookfield Zoo, the Chicago Children's Museum, the Chicago Cultural Center, The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, and many more. Chicago also has a few well-known sports teams, like the Chicago White Sox, the Cubs, Bears, Bulls and Wolves, so you want to check the schedules for those events before you get here and buy your tickets in advance. Don't forget to visit one of the highest Observatories in the world - at the John Hancock Building - at the 106th floor. It only takes a minute to get to the top floor and the view of Chicago and the Lake is tremendous. One of the most popular shopping districts in the windy city is known as the Magnificent Mile - found on Michigan Avenue, and has hundreds of shops and restaurants, as well as 9 malls, all within one mile.
Another site worthy of you checking out while in this city is a new place called Millennium Park. Started in 1997, the creators took upon themselves the prodigious task of creating the most sophisticated outdoor concert venues in the world. This 24-acre Park has a mixture of many new art creations, an ice skating rink, free classical presentations of the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus, the fabulous Jay Pritzker Pavilion, al fresco dining, unique art, architecture and landscape designs. It is a sight to see, for sure.
Over in Springfield, Illinois, you will find The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. Unlike other presidential museums, this totally immersive museum does not use the traditional method of static displays, but instead uses every modern means available. This means there is story-telling, holographic displays, museum guides, plays, and more that bring out the history and significant events of Abraham Lincoln's life and how it effected our nation today. It also has special activities for children, too, called Mrs. Lincoln’s
Attic, which is a hands-on experience for children ages 3 to 12. There is also a special effects theater in it, too, that present some of Lincoln's highlights of his presidential career. Special exhibits also focus on Mary Todd Lincoln.
Over in Rockford, Illinois, you can discover the bones of a young Tyrannosaurus Rex - named Jane - which is about half the size of an adult. Her fully restored skeleton is 21 feet long. This small skeleton was discovered in Montana, went through 4 years of preparation, and is now on display at the Burpee Museum of Natural History. This exhibit also contains a full-size T.Rex skeleton (40-feet), along with the skeleton of a Triceratops. State of the art technology creates landscapes of the era, displays that show how forces in the earth are still changing our world, plate tectonics, world and regional geology, and much more.
In Peoria, you can find some unexpected wildlife roaming around the Wildlife Prairie State Park. This special park of 2,000 acres brings you unexpected creatures like cougar, bison, elk, black bear, wolves, otters, and many more. There is also a Pioneer Farmstead here showing the various instruments, a log cabin, farm animals, and even a one-room schoolhouse. Educational programs are available which provides information about the park and some of the wildlife. Take a train ride around the park to see the animals and fauna. After a long day, you can even rent one of the rooms in their many facilities - renovated cabooses, Cottages by the Lake, Cabin on the Hill, or even the Prairie Stables. Brunches are available on Sundays.
Take a scenic drive along the shores of the Mississippi on the Illinois Great River Road National Scenic Byway. This road takes you close to the river for 550 miles, enabling you to see this great river and its shoreline for a long way. All along the road, are many cities and towns of historic value, giving you a complete sightseeing trip along the Mississippi. Sights include the Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville where you can find man-made mounds built by ancient Indian inhabitants; the Long Hollow Scenic Overlook at Elizabeth, where there is a 100 foot tower giving you a full 360 degree view of this beautiful countryside; a real Dutch Windmill - made in Holland and brought over - you'll find it in Fulton; a town built in the Civil War era - Galena, with many shops, historic and archeological treasures just waiting your discovery. Guided trolley tours are also available. Many other tremendous sights are along the way by the shores of the Mississippi.
Illinois is also the home of one of the oldest and best restored towns in the United States – Nauvoo. This little town, now with a population of only 1,000 people, has more than 300,000 come into it to see these great activities located here. Nauvoo was once the temporary home of the Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), and the city grew to about 20,000 inhabitants at that time. Now, it is just a handful of people – but a lot goes on there. You can see many buildings that have been restored to represent the period, and some say it is one of the most accurate restorations in the country. The stage lights up at the Joseph Smith Auditorium for the third annual Vocal Point (Internationally renowned) performance. Many forms of music are presented at a very memorable presentation. The Nauvoo Pageant also takes place in the summer and is expected to bring its repeat crowds of tens of thousands of visitors.