Many of us plan for vacations to do all this fun stuff and forget that we have plenty of fun stuff to do right in our own backyard. If you live in Illinois, there are things you absolutely SHOULD do. We are counting down the twenty things that should be on your bucket list.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Shawnee National Forest
At just under 300,000 acres, Shawnee National Forest has some of the most exquisite rock formations in our state, offers vantage points for two rivers, and gives you plenty of deciduous trees to fawn all over.
2. The Art Institute of Chicago
Voted the #1 attraction in the world, the Art Institute of Chicago has 300,000 works of art, including some of the most famous artwork in the world. You cannot possibly see it all in a day.
3. Wrigley Field
Perhaps the most iconic ballpark, enjoy the entire Wrigley Field experience complete with hitting the bars in Wrigleyville. Spring for the good seats.
4. Starved Rock
Starved Rock has 18 canyons, gorgeous waterfalls, and 2600 acres of forest.
5. Millenium Park
Even if you live in Chicago, be a tourist for a day. Millenium Park is not just "the bean." There is ice skating when the weather gets colder (great date night idea!), gardens, and different events throughout the year.
6. Cahokia Mounds
At Cahokia Mounds, you will find the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico. Be prepared to be blown away by these structures.
7. Cave-in-Rock State Park
Right off the Ohio River, enjoy this unique state park, the crown jewel of which is this cave with a 55-foot opening.
8. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Illinois loves Lincoln, and you should definitely get down to Springfield to savor this important part of our state's history. Reenactments and cool exhibits make this museum not at all "boring."
Home of Superman, Metropolis is tons of fun for both kids and adults. Don your cape and strike a pose in front of this iconic statue.
10. Anderson Japanese Gardens
One of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America, you will be stunned by Anderson Japanese Gardens--located in Rockford.
11. Lincoln Park Zoo
Since 1868, Lincoln Park Zoo has been bringing joy to people--and, get this, it's absolutely free.
Visit the capitol--it's in a fabulous historic Greek revival style building. Try and go to see the House or Senate in session.
13. Illinois State Fair
You just have to go to the fair at least once--see the livestock, eat a corn dog, and go on the scary looking rides. Hey, you only live once.
14. Go Back To School
There's nothing quite like catching an Illini football game. Make the drive to Champaign, definitely tailgate, and head to the game. You will love the collegiate atmosphere.
There's just something about Galena's charm that has people visiting. Rolling hills, scenic roads, and a quaintness about it makes it a favorite.
16. Grand View Drive and Park
This trip only lasts 2.5 miles, but you will see some of the most stunning views of the Illinois River Valley. Grab a picnic and head out with the family.
17. Mississippi Palisades State Park
Simply check out these stunning views. Wow. These tall limestone bluffs and lush trees will take your breath away.
18. Amish Country
Arthur, Illinois is really the heart of Amish country. See horses roaming about, buggies, and explore the many country stores.
Is Alinea the best restaurant in Illinois? Absolutely. You might need to save up first, though.
20. Chicago Botanic Garden
This garden takes up almost 400 acres and has 26 distinct gardens.
What’s on YOUR bucket list? Let us know in the comments.