There is a lot more to Illinois than meets the eye–a state that is known for its large city and cornfields. There are some downright magical looking places that you might not even know about. So prepare to be enchanted and head to one of these great Illinois locations.
1. Heron Pond
Have you ever seen anything quite like this? Bald cypress trees are all over the place, and some are over 1,000 years old! Some of them have a circumference of over 40 feet.
2. Garden of the Gods
The Shawnee National Forest offers all sorts of enchanting places, none more beautiful than Garden of the Gods. These bluffs are hundreds of millions years old. It is so spectacular that it doesn't even seem like it is from this world.
3. Illinois Beach State Park
There's not much in the way of beaches in Illinois, but yet, many people are not familiar with Illinois Beach State Park. The park has 6.5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. These dunes are a great place to bring a picnic.
4. Burden Falls
Burden Falls may be one of the best waterfalls in Illinois. It is located in the Burden Falls Wilderness area. It is composed of almost 4,000 acres of forest, and the crown jewel is this waterfall. It drops 20 feet and then goes down another 80 feet throughout a series of cascades and cataracts.
Cave-in-Rock is located in southern Illinois right off of the Ohio River. The mouth of this cave is 55 feet across--incredible! Once overtaken by outlaws, the town is pretty sleepy now, with a population of less than 400.
6. Jackson Falls
There are not terribly many places to go rock climbing in Illinois, but Jackson Falls is definitely one of the best places. In fact, there are 60 climbing locations to choose from, each about 50-60 feet in height.
7. Cahokia Mounds
Few people know that Cahokia Mounds exists. This was once the most sophisticated prehistoric society north of Mexico. Now, the mounds remain, and you can still walk the area. It is incredible that these structures were built.
8. Millstone Bluff
Located in Pope County, Millstone Bluff is located on the National Register. It was once home to a prehistoric community, as evidenced by the petroglyphs all around.
9. Piasa Bird
The Piasa Bird drawing commemorates an enchanting part of our history: when Father Jacques Marquette swore to have seen this bird in the flesh in 1673. The bird was rumored to have the horns of a deer, the face of a man, and a body as large as a calf.
10. Mississippi Palisades State Park
Did you ever see anything more lush? You probably will not, as this lush area is located at the confluence of the Mississippi River and the Apple River. The result: 2,500 acres of gorgeous scenery located in Savanna, Illinois. Steep cliffs with interesting rock formations, covered with trees, will intrigue you.
11. Tunnel Hill State Trail
If you are a biker, there might not be a better place to bike than down here in Vienna, Illinois. Tunnel Hill State Trail has 23 (count 'em!) trestle bridges, stretching for 45 miles from Harrisburg to Karnak.
12. Giant City State Park
In Makanda, Giant City State Park is wonderful to observe whether you are a camper, hiker, or horseback rider. The most amazing part of this park is the absolutely giant sandstone bluffs, formed some 12,000 years ago.
13. Pere Marquette State Park
In Jersey County, Pere Marquette is one of the best state parks in Illinois, though it is often overlooked. You can get some absolutely impressive views of the Illinois River and you might even see some bald eagles here.