Illinois is more than just Chicago and the Bears. Though we love them both, it’s nice to branch out and visit the rest of our great state sometimes. Join us on our adventure as we work our way through this Illinois Bucket List.
I wouldn’t usually include the typical spots in a bucket list, but you know what? Illinois has some of the best tourist destinations and whether you live here or you’re a tourist, I really want you to see them!
The Sky Deck – If you live near Chicago, you’ve probably been to the Sky Deck at least once, but it’s worth seeing again and again. Located in the Willis Tower (Sears Tower), you get to stand on a glass ledge overlooking Chicago from over 1,300 feet. Bring your camera; the price you’ll pay for a photo if they take it is pretty steep.
Navy Pier – Chicago’s only summer outdoor ice rink is located at Navy Pier. The Pier features museums, live shows, shopping, boat rides, and of course the famous Navy Pier Ferris Wheel.
Millennium Park – Another Chicago tourist spot, make sure you see “the Bean”. It looks awesome at sunset. The only downside is, there are always a ton of people around so getting a good, clear picture of the Bean is tough.
The Great Outdoors
Starved Rock State Park – With over 13 miles of trails, filled with stunning scenery and waterfalls, Starved Rock State Park is one park that belongs on everyone’s “must see” list! Voted the #1 place to see in Illinois, their website mentions eagle watching in the winter and wildflower identification in the summer, so bring the whole family and make a day of it.
Ferne Clyff State Park – If you’re looking for one of the most breathtaking views in the entire state of Illinois, you’ve found it. The hike to the waterfalls will make you forget you’re in Illinois. You’ll think you’ve been transported to a rainforest!
Giant City State Park – If your family loves the outdoors, they’ll enjoy a trip to Giant City State Park. The park is full of outdoor recreation opportunities, such as camping, horseback riding, fishing, rappelling, and hiking. Located inside Shawnee National Forest, this park was named for its massive sandstone structures. You’ll see these structures decorated with fern, moss, and hundreds of species of wild flowers. The visitor center provides interpretive displays on the geology, plants, etc.
Cahokia Mounds – “The remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric Native civilizations north of Mexico are preserved at Cahokia Mounts State Historic Site. Within the 2,200-acre tract, lie the archaeological remnants of the central section of the ancient settlement that is today known as Cahokia.” There is so much to learn by visiting Cahokia Mounds. Not only is it fun and educational for kids, it is for adults as well. Guided tours are available.
Oddities and History
The Super Museum – Opened in 1993 in Metropolis, the museum features more than 20,000 items from Jim Hambrick, who is a longtime Superman collector. From every Superman toy ever produced to movie props and promo materials, this is the only spot you can see everything Superman.
Don’t forget to take a photo with the 12 foot tall Superman outside the museum.
Leaning Tower of Niles – Can’t make it to Italy? No big deal, just visit the Leaning Tower of Niles. All it takes is a little imagination to see yourself there! Located near O’Hare, the Leaning Tower of Niles is a replica of Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s half-sized, about 94 feet, and an awesome photo opp.
Looking for another educational destination? Learn all about the history of Lincoln, and pioneer life, by visiting Lincoln’s New Salem.
You can get free food at all of these restaurants. The only catch? You have to eat a lot of it!
Lucky’s – Featured on Man V Food.
Lindy’s/Gertie’s – 18 Scoop Beast Challenge
Pop’s Pizzeria – 32” Pizza Challenge