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20 Best Things to Do in Illinois



When talking about Illinois, it automatically reminds us of the “Land of Lincoln,” or Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States of America. It is a place abundant with a rich history, but more than that, there are a lot of awesome things you can try here! Discover the best things to do in Illinois:

1. Go to the Chicago Lakefront Trail

Chicago Lakefront Trail
Source: Chicago Lakefront Trail | Medium/John Wachunas

Looking for a place for your outdoor activities? The Lakefront Trail is the best place for jogging, walking, riding a bicycle and skateboarding. It is located along the coast of Lake Michigan. The spot offers the best view of the city and lake, which is perfect for any sightseeing group. You can also bring kids since there are playgrounds around!

2. Appreciate Art at the Driehaus Museum

Driehaus Museum
Source: Driehaus Museum

The museum near Magnificent Mile showcases the art nouveau era, including glasses, vases, and furniture. Aside from that, some programs let you enjoy jazz music or lectures that promote architectural preservation.

3. Meditate and Relax at the Anderson Japanese Garden

Anderson Japanese Garden
Source: Main Gate Spring | Anderson Japanese Garden

Anderson Japanese Garden is a good place to consider if you’re looking for peace of mind. It is a 12-acre Japanese garden located in Rockford, Illinois. The garden serves as a haven for you to meditate, and find tranquility with the trees, flowers, and falls surrounding you.

4. Visit the Chicago Theatre

If you’re very fond of films and television shows, this theatre will look familiar as it has already appeared in the media. The theatre serves as a venue for concerts, plays, and is known as one of the most beautiful landmarks of Chicago.

5. Enjoy the Activities and Thrills at Navy Pier

Navy Pier
Source: Streeterville Navy Pier | Architecture

Navy Pier is a diverse pier along Lake Michigan, which is also the home of the Centennial Wheel (where you could see the Chicago Sky Line). You can enjoy Chicago tours departing from Navy Pier whether through land or by water.

6. Watch a Concert at Chicago Cultural Center

Chicago Cultural Center
Source: Chicago Cultural Center | Chicago

Besides being a historical landmark in Chicago, this cultural center is also the best place for creatives! The place offers guided architecture tours, art exhibits, and you can even watch a classical concert for free!

7. Be Amazed By the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago
Source: Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago Rendering | Starbucks

This four-story cafe located in Magnificent Mile is considered as the world’s largest Starbucks.

What to expect:

  • First floor: handcrafted coffee drinks and baked pastries on the first floor
  • Second floor: authentic Italian bakery by Rocco Princi
  • Third floor: exhibits about the art and science of coffee
  • Fourth floor: cocktail bar infusing coffee to cocktails

8. Brave the Rides at Six Flags Great America

There are a lot of Six Flags in the whole America, but there is one must-see, located in Gurnee, Illinois! You can enjoy a wide variety of rides from thrillers such as roller coasters, family-friendly rides, and even water parks!

9. Observe the City 1,000 Feet Above Ground at the 360 Chicago

360 Chicago View
Source: View atop the 360 Chicago | Viator

360 Chicago is an observation deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building. It has a tilting glass lookout where you can experience and see Chicago on full view 1,000 feet up above the ground.

10. Honor a U.S. President and Visit Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Source: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

This museum is dedicated to the man in the $5 bill and the 16th president of America. The collections inside the museum do not only tell about Lincoln, but including the history of Illinois.

11. Go on a Guided Old State Capitol Tour

Old State Capitol Tour
Source: Panorama shot of the Old State Capitol Tour | Flickr/Jay Lamm

Appreciate this Greek revival style Capitol located in Springfield, Illinois. The Old State Capitol served as a statehouse from 1840 to 1876. There are guided tours provided for visitors if you want to learn more about the Old State Capitol.

12. Eat the Original Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
Source: Chicago Deep Dish Pizza | Getty Images/bhofack2

Who doesn’t like pizza? Chicago is known for its deep-dish pizza, a staple meal in the city of Illinois. It is a pizza that’s overwhelmingly “thick,” from its crust to its sauce and generous amount of mozzarella cheese. Don’t miss out and try to eat deep dish pizza in restaurants in Chicago!

13. Spend Your Day at the Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago
Source: Art Institute of Chicago

If you want to visit one of the oldest and largest art museums in the USA – well – the Art Institute of Chicago is the place for you! Located in Chicago’s Grant Park, it notably has around 1.5 million visitors per year. It holds a variety of collections from American, African, Indian, Asian, Ancient, European and even modern and contemporary art.

14. Go Gaga Over the World’s Largest Catsup

World’s Largest Catsup Water Tower
Source: World’s Largest Catsup | Telegraph

One of the best things to do in Illinois is to visit the World’s Largest Catsup. Be amazed by this 170-feet catsup bottle! In reality, it’s actually a water tower. But still, what a unique attraction!

15. Embrace Space at the Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium
Source: Adler Planetarium | Free Tours by Foot

For space enthusiasts, Adler Planetarium is the place to be! Outside the planetarium, the dome may seem to be rustic, but inside is a whole new universe filled with exhibits about space, astronomy, astrophysics. Both children and adults would love the 3D lectures and to have the experience to launch a rocket.

16. Brighten Your Day at the You Are Beautiful Exhibit

You Are Beautiful Exhibit
Source: You Are Beautiful | ChicagoNow

Do you know that this exhibit by Matthew Hoffman was featured on Oprah? You Are Beautiful is a beautiful project which helps perceive the world as a better place. It also has a retail store, workshops, and events that mold visitors to create art to make an impact on the world.

17. Get a Panoramic View of Chicago at Willis Tower

Willis Tower
Source: Willis Tower in Chicago | ChicagoBusiness

Looking for a place where you can see a panoramic view of Chicago? Willis Tower is a skyscraper around 1,450 feet high, making it one of the tallest buildings in the country.

18. Visit the Millennium Park

Millenium Park
Source: Millenium Park | TripSavvy

Opened in 2004, the park was actually intended to celebrate the third millennium – as the
name suggests. Visiting this tourist destination is one of the best things to do in Illinois. It has an Interactive Crown Fountain where the LED shows faces of real people with water coming out of their mouths. There is also the Cloud Gate, or “The Bean” where you can take strike your most awesome pose!

19. Head to the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site

Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site
Source: Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site | Visit Galena

This historic site was the domicile of the late civil war hero, Ulysses S. Grant. The house is restored from its original state and is open to visitors. You can watch a film about Grant, take a guided tour, see other exhibits and shop in the historic site’s bookstore.

20. Drink the Night Away at Riggs Beer Company

Riggs Beer Company
Source: Riggs Beer Company Twitter

Need booze? Why not indulge in something new like craft beers? This brewery focuses on American and German-style lager beers. You can also learn more about beers by scheduling a tour to their brewery production area.

Tip: You are free to enjoy your beer in their Tap Room or Beer Garden.

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A writer big on nature, travel, and dogs. If you can't find Suny with her furry pal, then she's probably out exploring, doing ninja training or Calisthenics.