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6 Historic Towns In Illinois That Will Transport You To The Past



Outside of the hustle and bustle of Chicago, are a huge amount of small town in Illinois offering traditional charm right here in the midwest. Some of the towns on this list are home to just a few families each, totally maybe 15 residents, based off the most recent census data. For those looking to explore a small town at a slow pace, considering visiting the historic Illinois small towns on this list.

1. Bishop Hill, Illinois

Bishop Hill Heritage Association is a great museum to visit if you're looking for things to do in Illinois.

Bishop Hill Heritage Association

It is easy to imagine that the smaller towns in Illinois are more easily able to maintain historical elements into modern times. Bishop Hill was founded by Swedish immigrants back in 1846. Census data dating back to 2010 shows the town’s population totalled roughly 125, including about 50 or more individual households. Bishop Hill is home to some iconic architecture, making it an interesting overnight spot to check out in Illinois.

2. Kaskaskia, Illinois

The Immaculate Conception Church is a beautiful historic place to visit when looking for things to do in Illinois.

Immaculate Conception Church (Image Courtesy of

We saved Kaskaskia for the number two spot on our list because it is considered the second smallest town in Illinois. The 2010 census data stated that the population at that time was fourteen residents, so it might be easy to imagine that this town may have not changed too much since its origin. Kaskaskia is home to the picturesque Immaculate Conception Church.  Kaskaskia at times houses more visitors than residents, but is a great spot to visit if exploring a historic town is your intention. 

3. Galena, Illinois

Galena is best known for its amazingly up kept historic buildings, some of the best in all of Illinois. Also frequently considered one of the most beautiful towns in Illinois, visitors will not be let down during their visit. Enjoy the 19th Century architecture and small town charm of Galena.

4. Arthur, Illinois

The town of Arthur, Illinois might be best known for its large population of Amish residents. Arthur has a fairly small population, with only about 2,300 residents total. This town is so small that it has one popular major street, Vine Street, where it is not uncommon to see a horse and buggy, or a few. Visitors will enjoy the occasional festival, crafts fairs, antique fairs and food competitions.

5. Edwardsville, Illinois

Edwardsville is the third oldest city in Illinois, after Kaskaskia and Cahokia. This town is on the larger side of populations, compared to the other towns on the list, with about 25,000 residents as of recent. Downtown Edwardsville has some really beautiful traditional architecture that is worth visiting for. Edwardsville is right across the border from St Louis, making it a great choice for a historic weekend trip in the midwest.

6. Carthage, Illinois

Dhusband : Deviant Art

Dhusband : Deviant Art

This historic town is located in western Illinois, near the border of Missouri. Carthage has a population of about 2,500 residents and is home to a historic jail built in the early 1800’s. On October 22nd, 1858, Abraham Lincoln visited Carthage to make a speech during his campaign for the Senate. This was such a historic event for the town that it was memorialized in the form of a large engraved stone on the south side of the courthouse square.