9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Illinois
1 Magnificent Mile in Chicago
A walk down Chicago's Magnificent Mile, a portion of Michigan Avenue, is a must for visitors to the windy city. The shopping along here is some of the best in Chicago, with everything from everyday stores to high end boutiques. There are also museums, restaurants, hotels, and other entertainment options along the Mag Mile, as it is also known. Famous buildings along the street include the John Hancock Building, the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, and Trump Tower.
2 Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Located in Springfield, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum offers a great opportunity for learning, not only about Abraham Lincoln, but also about the history of the state of Illinois. The facility was opened in 2004 but the collections have been a work in progress for well over a century. This is largely a research facility, containing many significant manuscripts and other materials, although not all of the collection is on display to the public.
3 Ulysses S Grant Home State Historic Site in Galena
The Grant Home in Galena was presented to Ulysses S. Grant in 1865 upon his return from the Civil War. The house has been fully restored to the 1860s time period and contains many of Grant's personal belongings as well as original furnishings. Visitors can tour the home and learn a little about this Civil War hero.
4 Navy Pier
Located along Chicago's waterfront, Navy Pier is a great tourist destination with all kinds of things to help entertain people of any age. Museums, restaurants, shopping, movies, and theater are some of the options available. Highlights include the ferris wheel, the Children's Museum, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and the Crystal Gardens, which offer a tropical retreat even on a winter's day. Due to the outdoor nature of some of the attractions, the best time to visit Navy Pier is in summer, but there is always lots to see and do here year round.
5 Starved Rock State Park
This state park, southwest of Chicago on the Illinois River, is noted for its beautiful canyons and waterfalls. A number of hiking trails allow access to some the most scenic areas, and for safe and educational hiking experiences guided hikes are also available. In addition, Starved Rock offers many recreational opportunities including fishing and boating on the river, picnicking, horseback riding, camping, and winter sports. The name of the park comes from a group of Illini Indians who were left by their enemies to starve to death on one of the rocks.
6 Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the city's foremost cultural institutions and known internationally for its collections. Housed in a late 1800s building, along with other more modern extensions, the institute contains everything from ancient sculpture to post-Impressionist paintings, and many other areas of interest.
7 Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
Cahokia Mounds is known for being the largest prehistoric Indian settlement north of Mexico and includes the greatest concentration of mounds. In total there are 120, with the 100 foot-high Monks Mound at the center. This is the largest prehistoric earthwork in the Americas. The site was occupied from AD 700-1400, primarily by the Mississippian culture, covered nearly six square miles, and at its peak around AD 1100, may have had 10-20,000 inhabitants. Besides being a State Historic Site, Cahokia is also a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An Interpretive Center tells the story of the site and the people who built it with audiovisual presentations, artifacts, graphics and dioramas, including a life-size village recreation.
8 Dana-Thomas House, Springfield
Built by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1902, the Dana-Thomas House represents one of his early, large scale, Prairie-style houses, and is particularly well preserved. Today this 35 room structure, located in Springfield, is a house museum, open to the public with guided tours. Of particular note are the windows and glass doors.
9 Anderson Japanese Gardens
Anderson Japanese Gardens, a 10 acre Japanese garden in Rockford, is a splendid retreat with cascading waterfalls, ponds, streams rock formations, winding lanes, a tea house, and guest house built in the authentic sukiya style. This is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy some tranquility, with benches and artfully designed areas for reflection and contemplation.