Everyone should head outdoors, especially as we move into that delightfully crisp fall weather that Illinois is famous for. So what should you see? We think every Illinoisian should hit up these 12 locations.
1. Mississippi Palisades State Park
Native Americans once called this area home, and one can see why. This might be the greatest view of the Mississippi River (and this is a long river). Majestic bluffs covered in lush trees overlook this large body of water.
2. Illinois Beach State Park
There aren't too many beaches in Illinois, but one of the very best is right here at Illinois Beach State Park. There are 6.5 miles of beach for you to walk across. Wildlife abounds, and there are loads of trails that you can explore that go through forested areas.
3. Garden of the Gods
Of all the places in Illinois, this is the top view. There, I said it. Nestled in the Shawnee National Forest, this spot emerges among large, 300 million year old boulders. Prepare to be amazed.
4. Ferne Clyffe State Park
This Illinois state park is known for amazing rock formations. And its ferns, too. Hike along and see beautiful waterfalls.
5. Cache River Natural Area
On a trip here, you will be amazed that this is actually Illinois. It feels like somewhere in the deep south. Yes, that is a bog. Large, bald cypress trees jut out of the water.
6. Pomona Natural Bridge
It is amazing that this bridge was completely carved out by water over years and years. It is about 90 feet long and 8 feet across. Explore this area, and while you are at it, there is a small cave to discover.
7. Starved Rock State Park
No wonder this is Illinois' most visited state park. There are loads of beautiful trees among canyons. Go out on the scenic overlooks for incredible views of the river.
8. Giant City State Park
Of note in this state park are the large rock formations. You will be amazed by these large, interesting rocks--unlike anything you have ever seen. It is famous for its "Giant City Streets," paths that go through giant blocks of sandstone.
9. Rock Cut State Park
Beautiful rocks will lead you down a gorgeous path to the river. This might be the best place to see a sunset. It is loaded with hiking trails.
10. Cave in Rock State Park
Once upon a time, this cave was used by robbers and pirates to stash loot. Today, you will marvel at this cave's 55 foot mouth. Make sure to gaze out at the Ohio River.
11. Buffalo Rock State Park
This area has wonderful forests, but people come to see the two resident bison. These creatures are incredible in real life. Hike many trails around the area, too.
12. Matthiessen State Park
This Illinois state park has upper and lower dells. Hike to the lower dells for some great views. There are canyons and waterfalls here.