Those dropping temps, winds, and snowfall definitely encourage us to stay in and hibernate in winter. But it doesn’t have to be that way! We should get bundled up, head outside, and explore some of our favorite Illinois places “winter style.” Here are the 12 spots you should hit up this winter.
1. Millenium Park
One of my favorite places to head outside during winter is Millenium Park. No, there will be no one running under fountains, but the bean is still there. Plus, you can go ice skating outside. Now how cool is that?
2. Starved Rock
This attraction actually is enhanced when those temperatures start to drop. If you're lucky enough, catch a glimpse of a frozen waterfall as it drips down into a canyon.
3. Matthiessen State Park
Speaking of frozen water, the "pool" at Matthiessen State Park looks epic when it has been frozen over.
4. Apple River Canyon State Park
This canyon features some stunning rock formations on the sides of the beautiful Apple River. You will be amazed by the views in this winter wilderness scene.
5. Illinois Beach State Park
Perhaps the best time to see Lake Michigan is in the winter when it too must succumb to freezing temperatures. Illinois Beach State Park is a great place to catch some frozen waves.
6. Shawnee National Forest
Can Shawnee National Forest look even more awesome in the snow? Possibly. With the absence of leaves, you can actually really get a sense of just how big a park this is and just how massive these rocks are.
7. Mississippi Palisades State Park
The cliffs, caves, and awesome views make this park a must-see during any time of year. Definitely do not miss out when it is winter. You can really see just how mighty the Mississippi is. And you might even see an eagle fly by!
8. Lowden State Park
People head here to see the famous "Blackhawk" statue and, let me tell you, Blackhawk looks even more imposing in the snow. The park offers an amazing view of the Rock River, which looks fabulous flowing along snowy banks.
9. Wildlife Prairie Park
These animals love when there is a fresh blanket of snow and you will get great joy seeing them frolic in it.
10. Morton Arboretum
Snow-covered trees are everywhere, but help conservation by giving them a visit. Their "Illumination" exhibit--which features lots of bright lights and sounds--will enhance the experience.
11. Merwin Nature Preserve
In the Mackinaw Valley watershed, Merwin Nature Preserve is a beautiful trail featuring all sorts of stations to stop off and get a different view. And doesn't it just look lovely in the snow?
12. Navy Pier
The good thing about Navy Pier is that you can stay mostly inside, which is nice if it is a really cold day. But you can still walk outside and see the frozen lake from the pier. During winter, there is Winter WonderFest, featuring rides, slides, photo ops and much more.
If you head out to any of these places and happen to have your camera, don’t forget to get a picture and post it on the Only in Illinois Facebook page.