Illinois, also known as the ‘Land of Lincoln’, is a vast expanse of land that sprawls from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River. This amazing state has more than 1,000 historic places, glacial plains and the famous valleys of the Ozarks. The State has a population of about 13 million but one of its most famous citizens was Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of United States of America. Lincoln spent his life as a lawyer in Illinois before his political career took off.
Illinois is a mosaic of tourist attractions. Chicago, or ‘The Windy City’ because of its blowing wind, is a gigantic industrial hub catering to the USA and the rest of the world. More than 50 languages are spoken among the 8.5 million who live in Chicago alone, making the city among the most diverse ethnically in the US. Once you’ve learned a language or two, brush up on your sciences at the Museum of Science & Industry. Get lost exploring the mysteries of how the earth was formed before taking in the Adler Planetarium where special summer events are carried out in the famous Sky Dome. Both Chicago and Illinois are peppered with a number of fine arts museums, with exhibits and artifacts from a large number of countries, such as Sweden, Vietnam, Poland, Lithuania, living up to its name of he most ethnically diverse State.
The capital of Illinois is Springfield. Among its main tourist attractions is the tomb of Abraham Lincoln and the Illinois State Museum. But Springfield also contains the New Salem State Park, where a pioneer community set in Lincoln’s time is carefully recreated.
A heavy influence of French architecture lies in Illinois, once a French Colony. You can find good examples of this in Prairie du Rocher and Kaskaskia. A French outpost replica, Fort Crevecoeur, lies in the West. Here you’ll also see the Dickson Mounds, which bear witness to an ancient and extremely advanced civilization of the Native Americans from the Mississippian River. In the Southern side of Illinois lies the Shawnee National Forest, which has a great selection of wildlife.
Beautiful Victorian city Galena highlights Northern Illinois. There you’ll find the famous Cahokia Mounds, which give silent testimony to the extremely advanced prehistoric civilization of the ancient Native Americans. Galena also features the Starved Rock Park with huge hiking trails, boat rides and picnic sites.
Wrigley Field, situated just outside of Chicago is a must-stop for baseball fans. Home of the famous Chicago Cubs and one of the oldest fields in baseball, this open-air ballpark still operates with a manual scoreboard and is one of the most featured baseball fields on the movie screen.
Explore 425 million years of history along the Illinois River at Starved Rock State Park in Utica. Discover hiking along its 18 canyons and gleaming waterfalls, fishing, horseback riding and numerous activities for the outdoor enthusiast.
Photo opportunities await at the magnificent 33-mile view offered by the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway where the Illinois, Missouri and Mississippi rivers meet to flow into the ocean. Quaint villages from Alton to Hartford can be discovered by scenic drive or along its 20-mile paved bicycle trail. While in Alton, measure your size against the statue of the World's Tallest Man standing at 8 feet 11 inches.
For all you comic buffs, the Super Museum in Metropolis houses more than 20,000 images and a giant collection of Superman memorabilia. This small town in Southern Illinois prides itself on being the official hometown of Superman and celebrates its hero in every way possible.
• The world's first Skyscraper, the Home Insurance Building, was built in Chicago in 1885.
• Chicago is home to the world's largest cookie and cracker factory, where Nabisco makes billions of cookies each year
• On Saint Patrick's Day each year, the Chicago River is dyed green
• Over 2 million books make the Chicago Public Library the world's largest public library
• The Chicago Post Office at 433 West Van Buren is the only postal facility in the world you can drive a car through.
• McDonald's first began selling burgers in Des Plaines, Illinois.
• The tallest building in North America is the Sears Tower located in Chicago
• Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery in 1865.
• The name "Illinois" comes from a Native American word meaning "tribe of superior men".
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O'Hare terminal, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.
Regions • Northern Illinois
• Chicagoland (The Windy city and environs)
• Central Illinois
• Western Illinois
• Saint Louis Metro East
• Southern Illinois
• Springfield (capital)
• Quad Cities
Illinois is a State where climate runs in extremes – cold winters and hot summers. The summer temperatures easily reach 31 degrees while winter temperatures range from -4 to – 18 degrees. The wind doesn’t either so if you’re heading to Illinois, do so in the summer.
Illinois has a huge array of accommodations. You can find seven star hotel accommodations ranging from $2000 upwards per day. If that’s too steep, dormitory rentals can be as low as $20 per day. The state also has a good selection of trailer accommodations, studios and hostels. The highway motels are generally comfortable and economical.