With a population reaching almost 13 million, Illinois is the 5th most populous state of the United States and is located in the Midwestern region of the country. The capital city of the state is Springfield whereas Chicago is the largest metro and its sea-port functions as a distinct economic base and a transportation hub. Illinois’s economy majorly depends upon its high-quality agricultural products, manufacturing industry and nuclear power plants. As far as tourism is concerned, the state of Illinois hold several historical museums and cultural sites along with world-class state parks that attract millions of visitors.
10) Field Museum of Natural History
The Field Museum of Natural History was established in 1893 and is still considered as one of the largest history museums in the world. Currently, the museum conserves collection of natural history artifacts. Extensive scientific research and programs are held within the institute to demonstrate ancient fossils, biodiversity, meteorites as well as artworks from different cultures around the globe. More than 24 million specimens and exhibits are displayed, notably the skeletons of humongous dinosaurs and elephants. With 2 million visitors annually, the Field Museum is a popular tourist attraction in Illinois.
9) Navy Pier
Originally designed in 1916 for the 2nd World War, Navy Pier is a docking place for large ships on Chicago’s shoreline. Presently, the place spans over fifty acres of tender green gardens and enclosures along with family restaurants, hotels and amusement parks. The Ferris wheel, museum, IMAX theatre, and Crystal Gardens provide unmatched entertainment for people of all ages. Attractions also include sightseeing and dinner on ships. Drawing almost 10 million visitors per annum, Navy Pier is a top tourist destination in Illinois and a must-visit place for every traveler to Illinois.
8) Magnificent Mile
Renowned as one of the best shopping districts in the world, the Magnificent Mile is the upper section of Michigan Avenue, in Chicago. It houses a mixture of well-off and deluxe departmental stores, restaurants and hotels. The Magnificent Mile is home to various notable cultural and contemporary landmarks, which include John Hancock Center, Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower and Allerton Hotel. Moreover, there are many other entertainment options and the milieu of the avenue changes with each following season as several communal festivals make their way into the district. Annually, the Mag Mile receives 20 million tourists on average.
7) Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum preserves the archives and honors one of the most highly-esteemed American Presidents, Abraham Lincoln. It was founded in 2004 and is located in the state capital, Springfield. The museum’s library is home to a broad compilation of artifacts, memorabilia and original documentations of the high-profile events in his life. Interactive displays and exhibits are held, presenting historical specifics about Lincoln’s life as well as the state of Illinois. The place also houses research facility, reviewing ancient manuscripts and other materials.
6) The Art Institute of Chicago
Built in late 1800s, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest cultural museums of the country and assembles a large collection of ancient artifacts. The archives include paintings and portraits from legendary artists and architects. Apart from preserving artworks worth 300,000, the museum also houses hundreds of historic sculptures and engraved idols. Special galleries have been created to display some of the finest artifacts and collectibles. Furthermore, interactive exhibits are held regularly for educational purposes for the visiting throngs of tourists.
5) Shawnee National Forest
The Shawnee National Forest is situated in the southern part of Illinois and is considered as an ideal place for outdoor recreation. The forest has a diverse range of plant and animal species along with a unique topographical structure. Extending to an area of 280,000 acres, this wilderness spot is home to majestic rock formations and breathtaking waterfalls. Additionally, Shawnee National Forest features beautiful lakes, bay reeks and rugged bluffs. Camp sites are available for tourists along the lake with activities like hiking, fishing and sightseeing for entertainment. Many national landmarks and historical sites are also located within the forest, including the Garden of the Gods.
4) Anderson Japanese Gardens
Anderson Japanese Gardens is a Japanese garden located in the city of Rockford. The 12 acre garden was established in 1978 by the same group of people who founded the Japanese Gardens in Portland, Oregon. The place has become a popular tourist destination ever since and offer a placid natural setting. Several waterfalls and cerulean streams which house different types of fish run through the lush-green garden. Resting spots and tea houses have also been created. Moreover, the place holds many events and exhibits representing the Japanese culture to the general public.
3) Shedd Aquarium
Opened in 1930, the Shedd Aquarium is a public aquarium in Chicago and houses more than 1,500 species of fish, marine animals and mammals. It has saltwater fish collection and was the largest aquarium in the world for some time. Apart from a diverse range of insects and amphibians, it also houses whales, sea lions and penguins.Several freshwater events are arranged to inspire the visitors regarding the conservation of marine life and aqua bodies. Shedd Aquarium is one of the most visited aquariums in the whole country with an estimated 2 million visitors each year.
2) Millennium Park
Millennium Park is a communal civic center located on the coastline of Lake Michigan in Chicago and was originally built to celebrate the 2nd millennium (21st century). The Park covers an area of 25 acres and is considered as one of the largest green canopies in the world. Apart from lush-green gardens and lots of open space, Millennium Park features many sculptures and iconic structures. The curves in Cloud Gate, a giant steel structure twist Chicago’s skyline in 360 degrees. Pritzker pavilion hosts several cultural events and outdoor concerts. Millennium Park is one of the most famous destinations in Chicago.
1) Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park is a state park located near the small village of Utica, Illinois. It has rare geographical features with rock canyons. Since its foundation, the park has been a very popular vacation resort. It is typically noted for its spectacular waterfalls and a completely different topography. The state park is home to various archaeological and research sites. A visitor center and a lodge have been developed on the hills for guidance and educational programs. Hiking trails across the river offer magnificent rejuvenation and truly amazing scenic views of nearby valleys and peaks. Moreover camping sites with world-class cabins and hotel rooms have been established around the pools of beautiful wildflowers to accommodate the visiting groups. Starved Rock State Park, undoubtedly, is the best tourist attraction across the state and an amazing place to experience foremost.