10+ Best Places To Visit In Illinois

Illinois is in the Midwest and has beautiful landscapes, vibrant cities, and rich cultural heritage. You can explore the iconic skyline of Chicago and the peaceful shores of Lake Michigan.

Whether you like history or food, Illinois has something for everyone. Discover the best places to visit in Illinois for unforgettable experiences and endless memories. Explore this captivating state and be charmed by each destination’s unique story.

Illinois is known as the Land of Lincoln and has a lot of history and culture. The list of top 10 best and cool places to visit in Illinois are:

  • Anderson Japanese Gardens
  • Champaign-Urbana
  • Tunnel Hill State Trail
  • Lincoln’s New Salem
  • Shawnee National Forest
  • Cahokia Mounds
  • Starved Rock State Park
  • Galena
  • Springfield
  • Chicago

Anderson Japanese Gardens

When you visit Illinois, make sure to see the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford. This peaceful oasis lets you escape the busy city life with beautiful gardens, calm ponds, and scenic bridges. The Moon Bridge is a standout feature, providing amazing views and a peaceful atmosphere.

Anderson Japanese Gardens

Another noteworthy feature of Anderson Japanese Gardens is its authentic tea house, where visitors can partake in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of Japan. The carefully curated collection of native plants and trees adds to the authenticity of this beautiful space, creating a harmonious blend between nature and human design.


Experience the lively college town vibe of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is located. Check out the diverse art and culture scene in downtown Champaign. You can visit galleries, watch live shows at theaters, or enjoy craft cocktails at cool bars. The beautiful countryside nearby has scenic wineries and farm-to-table restaurants, giving you a taste of local food.

Outdoor lovers should explore Meadowbrook Park and walk around Crystal Lake Park. History enthusiasts can visit museums like Spurlock Museum and see historic sites like President Lincoln’s Cottage in Champaign-Urbana. This city has a mix of city vibes and small-town charm, making it a hidden gem in Illinois.

Tunnel Hill State Trail

Located in Illinois, Tunnel Hill State Trail is a great place for outdoor lovers. The trail is 45 miles long and offers beautiful views of nature. You can walk through tunnels and over bridges while enjoying the scenery of Shawnee National Forest.

illinois tunnel hill state trail

Tunnel Hill State Trail has a long history from the time of trains. You can see old tracks and tunnels that give the trail a special feel. Whether you like biking or walking, this trail is for everyone. It’s a great place to explore in Illinois and make lasting memories.

Lincoln’s New Salem

In Illinois is Lincoln’s New Salem, a village that shows how Abraham Lincoln lived when he was young. You can visit log cabins and talk to people in old-fashioned clothes to see what life was like in the 1830s. The village is a special place where you can learn about history by watching crafts and hearing about daily life in the past.

Visiting Lincoln’s New Salem is a highlight because you can see where Abraham Lincoln started his career in public service. Every part of the village played a role in shaping Lincoln’s early years, from splitting rails to being a postmaster. The village is also surrounded by beautiful nature, with scenic trails among tall oak trees and peaceful meadows.

Shawnee National Forest

Shawnee National Forest in Illinois is a beautiful place for outdoor adventures. Visitors can hike through forests and cliffs to see amazing rock formations like Garden of the Gods and Camel Rock. There are also peaceful trails to explore with waterfalls like Ferne Clyffe and Burden Falls.

shawnee national forest photos

Don’t miss the amazing views from Jackson Falls and Rim Rock Trail. You can camp under the stars or paddle along rivers like Cache River and Big Muddy River. Shawnee National Forest offers a great experience for nature lovers and adventurers.

Cahokia Mounds

Located in Collinsville, Illinois, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site shows the ancient Mississippian civilization that lived there thousands of years ago. The site has over 80 mounds, with Monks Mound being the biggest prehistoric earthen structure in North America. Visitors can see the impressive architecture and learn about the advanced society that lived there.

Cahokia Mounds is a historic site in Illinois that offers a peaceful natural setting for outdoor activities like hiking and picnicking. You can enjoy beautiful views from Monks Mound and explore the lush grounds. Whether you love history or nature, Cahokia Mounds is a unique and enriching experience for everyone.

Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park is located by the Illinois River and has tall sandstone canyons and waterfalls. There are 13 miles of trails for hiking with chances to see wildlife like bald eagles. You can have a picnic by the river or take a boat ride for a relaxing time in the beautiful surroundings.

starved rock state park camping - best places to visit in Illinois

Visit Starved Rock State Park to see nature’s changes each season. Enjoy flowers in spring and colorful leaves in fall. The park has a rich history, with Native American drawings on canyon walls. Watch stunning sunsets and starry skies away from city lights. Enhance your experience by camping or staying at the lodge.


Galena, Illinois is a small town with a rich history and lively culture. Main Street is a popular spot with old buildings that hold shops, galleries, and cafes. You can visit the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historic Site to learn about the Civil War general and former president.

Outdoor lovers in Galena can hike at Horseshoe Mound or bike along the Galena River Trail. Wine fans can visit local wineries for tastings with beautiful vineyard views. Galena, a hidden gem in Illinois, has activities for everyone, whether you seek relaxation or adventure.


When you visit Springfield, Illinois, make sure to check out the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. This place gives you a hands-on look at the life and impact of the 16th president of the United States. You can see interactive displays and historical items that take you back in time.

Also, don’t miss the Old State Capitol building, where Abraham Lincoln gave his famous House Divided speech in 1858.

springfield illinois

For a relaxing time, visit Washington Park Botanical Gardens for a peaceful break in nature. The gardens have many different plants and flowers, perfect for a calm walk or quiet time to think. Whether you like history, nature, or just want to relax, Springfield has something for everyone to enjoy.


Chicago is the biggest city in Illinois and has a mix of culture, architecture, and food that draws visitors from around the world. Millennium Park is a must-see spot with the famous Cloud Gate sculpture, also called The Bean. This art piece shows the city’s skyline and is great for photos.

History and architecture enthusiasts should visit the Art Institute of Chicago. The museum has a vast collection of art from different time periods, making it a cultural treasure in downtown Chicago. A boat tour on the Chicago River offers a unique view of the city’s diverse architecture and history. Chicago is a top destination in Illinois for travelers looking for city life and culture.

Illinois and Iowa are two nearby states in the Midwest that have special attractions for visitors looking for a taste of American culture. Chicago in Illinois is a lively city known for its famous skyline, deep-dish pizza places, and top-notch museums. On the other hand, Iowa’s small towns have a peaceful charm with their beautiful cornfields and welcoming locals who show Midwestern hospitality.

Illinois has Lake Michigan and hills in the Shawnee National Forest. Iowa has cornfields and rural scenery. Both states offer unique American experiences. You can explore Chicago or enjoy the quiet life in an Iowa farm town.

Illinois and Iowa have interesting histories shown in their buildings, famous places, and local customs. You can visit Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield or the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville to learn about America’s past. Whether you like the busy city life in Illinois or the relaxed atmosphere in Iowa, both states have special things to offer for travelers wanting to explore the Midwest.

Illinois has many things to see and do for visitors. You can explore cities and nature.

Whether you like history, buildings, or outdoor fun, Illinois has something for everyone. From Chicago’s cool buildings to Shawnee National Forest’s pretty views, and lots of great places to go in illinois. You can enjoy the state’s culture, food, and nice people.

A trip to Illinois will be a memorable experience that you’ll love. Plan your next adventure to the best places to visit in Illinois today and discover the endless possibilities waiting for you in the Land of Lincoln!

What Is Famous About Illinois?

Illinois was the first state to approve the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery in 1865. President Ulysses S. Grant lived in Illinois, and his house is now in Galena. The Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station were the only buildings that didn’t burn down in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Is Illinois Cheap Or Expensive?

Illinois is the sixth most populated state in the US, with over 12.5 million residents. Data from MERIC in 2022 shows that it has a middle-ranking cost of living, placing 17th among all states.

What Food Is Illinois Famous For?

Illinois is famous for Chicago Deep Dish Pizza, Pierogi, and Italian Beef Sandwiches. Brownies were first introduced at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Ajmal Malik

Leave a comment