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Get Ready for a Must List of Things to Do in Illinois

See Abe’s museum, Navy Pier, Galena and much, much more

By Kevin Litwin on May 17, 2016

Abe re-enactors
Illinois / Courtesy of Randy von Liski under a CC 4.0 license.

Sure, most people know that Chicago is the main city in Illinois, but there are many other places and attractions worth seeing and visiting in The Prairie State.

Visit the Abe

See life-size dioramas of Lincoln’s boyhood home as well as areas of the White House, the presidential box at Ford’s Theatre, and several Abe re-enactors at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield. Artifacts include the original hand-written Gettysburg Address, a signed Emancipation Proclamation and Mary Todd Lincoln’s wedding dress.

View 3 Mighty Rivers

Take a relaxing drive along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, a 33-mile road that begins in Hartford and ends at Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton. Much of the road provides motorists with great views of where the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers all converge.

Say Konnichiwa

View koi-filled ponds, gentle streams, raked gravel gardens, shaped pine trees, winding paths and sparkling waterfalls at Anderson Japanese Gardens, a top attraction in Rockford that features 12 acres of master-crafted horticulture within traditional 16th century architecture. The garden is meant to exude calm and tranquility.

Stroll the Best Main Street

Travel to Galena and visit one of America’s Best Main Streets as named by Fodor’s along with Midwest Living magazine. Historic red brick buildings look much like they did during the Civil War and now house multiple boutiques, restaurants and art galleries, and several bed-and-breakfasts are available for convenient overnight lodging.

In the Navy

Have fun along the Lake Michigan shorefront in Chicago at the famed Navy Pier, where patrons can partake in amusement park rides, boardwalk restaurants, souvenir shops and a dinner cruise boat. Also available are summertime live performances at the outdoor Skyline Stage, while moviegoers can catch films at the Navy Pier IMAX Theatre.

Splash Year Round

Grab the kids and their bathing suits and head to KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort, which is open year round in Gurnee. Fun highlights include a wave pool, lazy river, tube slides and waterfalls, and parents can enjoy a variety of award-winning restaurants along with a Paradise Mist Spa.

Shop the Magnificent Mile

Live it up by shopping along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile that features upscale boutiques, name-brand designer stores, lavish spas and top restaurant choices. Department stores along the world-famous trendy thoroughfare include Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, while Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Louis Vuitton are some of the many luxury store options.

That’s the Spirit

Take a sightseeing cruise along the Illinois River aboard the Spirit of Peoria, an old-style riverboat that sets sail from the Peoria Riverfront. Meanwhile, the Peoria Riverfront is an attraction in itself with numerous shops, restaurants, live music venues and the largest antique district in central Illinois.

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