It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The days are getting shorter, the air is filled with snow and holiday cheer, and shopping takes on a whole new meaning. Of course, it’s important to take a break from the crowded stores and holiday shopping wish lists and spend a little time taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of Christmas in Illinois right outside of your back door. Well, it won’t actually be right outside your door, but it could be! Christmas road trip, anyone?

This adventure to see the best Christmas lights in Illinois will take you on quite an adventure, so load up the car, pack the hot chocolate in some travel mugs, bundle up the kiddos, stock up on Christmas cookies, and put those holiday tunes on because this Christmas road trip is exactly what you need to get in the festive spirit. Ready to get started? Let’s go!

We believe the more Christmas lights in Illinois the better when it comes to celebrating the holidays. If you think so too, be sure to check out other magical Christmas towns in Illinois to feed your passion for the holidays. What did you think of this holiday lights road trip? Did any of your favorite seasonal attractions miss the list? If so, be sure to tell us all about them – we’d love to hear from you! You can also fill out a nomination form to share your favorite places around Illinois with us. Who knows: you may even see them featured in upcoming stories!

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Christmas lights in Illinois

What are some of the best winter attractions in Illinois?

Illinois experiences frigid temperatures and a healthy dose of snow each winter, which sets the stage perfectly for embracing all that the cold season has to offer. And while you may be tempted to bundle up and hibernate all winter long, there are plenty of winter-friendly attractions throughout the state that you'll want to visit. One of our favorite outdoor winter attractions in Illinois is White Pines Ranch. It's here that you can enjoy one of the most scenic guided horseback tours of your life. After making your way through the snowy Illinois landscape, you'll return to the lodge for warm drinks. Doesn't that sound positively magical? Some other incredible outdoor winter attractions in Illinois include Depot Pond, Snowstar Winter Park, Starved Rock State Park, Maggie Daley Park, Goodenow Grove Natural Preserve, and any number of winter hikes.

What are the best winter hiking trails in Illinois?

Hiking in Illinois in the winter is a true adventure. If you bundle up and prepare ahead of time, your experience will be a magical one. Some of our favorite winter hiking trails in Illinois include Sag Valley Forest Preserve, Starved Rock State Park, the Morton Arboretum, and Buffalo Rock State Park. Buffalo Rock State Park is an especially lovely wintertime attraction. Located just across the Illinois River from Starved Rock State Park, this relatively underrated destination features nearly 300 acres and promises plenty of peace and solitude. Learn more about some of the best winter hikes in Illinois.

What should I put on my Illinois winter bucket list?

As mentioned before, spending winter in Illinois is not for the faint of heart. The state experiences extremely cold temperatures and plenty of snow; however, one could argue that this only adds to the allure of the season. In fact, we've compiled a list of bucket-list-worthy adventures so that you can make the most of the snowy season in Illinois. Some of the activities include hopping on a snow tube at Snowstar Winter Park, doing the Polar Plunge in Chicago, looking for bald eagles at Starved Rock State Park, snowboarding at Raging Buffalo Snowboard & Ski Park, ice skating at Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon in Chicago, cross-country skiing at Arrowhead Golf Course in Wheaton, visiting the Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition in Rockford, curling at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge, snowshoeing at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, and finally, sipping on some of the world's best hot chocolate at Mindy's Hot Chocolate in Chicago. Learn more about our favorite wintertime activities in Illinois.

Are there any charming Christmas towns in Illinois?

You bet! One of the most picturesque, charming Christmas towns in Illinois is known as Galena. Situated in northern Illinois, this small town celebrates winter in a big way. In addition to the fireworks display over the Galena River, this town also enjoys a generous amount of snowfall, adding to the magic and allure of the winter season.

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