Fun things to do in Illinois

  • Chicago River Cruise
    Chicago River Cruise
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    The Bean in Millennium Park
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Illinois

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    Chicago Pedway

    by ant1606 Updated Jun 26, 2014

    I haven't explored it yet but I've heard of this from Rich (VTer "riorich55") one day we cycled the Lakefront Trail together.
    The Pedway System in Chicago started its development in 1951 as a sheltered way to connect several buildings, about 50 of them now, in the Loop district. It mainly runs underground with a few passages at street level or elevated, with convenient elevators or escalators to ease the ups-and-downs.
    Link to 2013 Pedway map

    Chicago Pedway Map
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    Dickson's Mounds

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Apr 3, 2013

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    This museum is built on top of a larger ceremonial mound built by the Mississippian Indians 800 years ago. Unfortunately the mound now looks just like a natural hill and the few exhibits in the museum are pretty lame and do little to describe the sight. This is not worth going out of your way for.

    Dickson's Mounds Dickson's Mounds Dickson's Mounds
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    Lincoln's New Salem

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Apr 3, 2013

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    Lincoln came to live in New Salem in his early 20's. It was from here he decided to enter politics and was elected into the Illinois senate representing New Salem. The sight has recreated the pioneer town as it existed in Lincoln's day.

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    Lincoln's Tomb

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Apr 3, 2013

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    The final resting place of Lincoln is a fantastic monument that sit in a peaceful cemetery in the North part of Springfield. The monument is 117 ft tall made of granite and contains the remains of Lincoln, his wife and 3 of his 4 children

    Lincoln's Tomb Lincoln's Tomb Lincoln's Tomb
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    Illinois Travel Guide

    by riorich55 Written Feb 24, 2013

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    I'm not sure if a lot of people will visit just an Illinois site, so I will keep this brief. I saw a link in this mornings paper about the 2013 Illinois Travel Guide so I thought I would help any visitors to my pages out and list the link here in case anyone was coming to Illinois this year.

    http://www.enjoyillinois.com/traveltools/travelTools.aspx?utm_campaign=Travel&utm_medium=PaidSearch&utm_source=MSN&utm_content=Travel-Illinois&utm_term=illinois%20travel

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    Nauvoo

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Feb 24, 2013

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    Nauvoo was established as a Mormon settlement by Joseph Smith after being kicked out of Missouri in 1839. Joseph Smith was later jailed and killed in nearby Warsaw by a mob. Brigham Young then led the Mormons to Utah in 1846. Many of the original buildings are restored and now have historical displays.

    Nauvoo Nauvoo Nauvoo Nauvoo
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    Cahokia Mounds

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Feb 24, 2013

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    This is one of the most fantastic sites in the US you have probably never heard of. This city was built by the Mississippian Culture around AD 700 and was at the time the largest city north of Mexico. The center of the city was a great pyramid, flanked by other pyramids and platforms.

    Cahokia Mounds Cahokia Mounds Cahokia Mounds Cahokia Mounds Cahokia Mounds
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    Lincoln Library and Museum

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Feb 24, 2013

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    The Museum is actually fairly small and has much more in re-creations than actual artifacts. It also includes 2 movies on Lincoln's life. The main exhibits are a recreation of the Log Cabin Lincoln grew up in and a White House exhibit. Very Disneyified in general.

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    Old State Capitol

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Feb 24, 2013

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    The Old State Capitol served as the Illinois statehouse from 1839 to 1876 and was the building in which Abraham Lincoln served when he was a Illinois legislator. Tours are available to see the inside of the building but I did not have time to indulge.

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    Dry Picnic at the Lake Michigan

    by kharmencita Updated Dec 25, 2012

    It was usual for us (my niece and some of her colleagues) to take every now and then nice little dry picnic at the lake shore. Mostly during summertime and when it is sunny we enjoyed doing dry picnics on the Waterfront. Benches and Tables are also available but to enjoy picnicking right at the green grasses is something original. Enjoying the view from a distant the skylines of Chicago and the amazing Panorama of the Windy City is exactly relaxing and breathtaking.

    picnic at Lake Michigan
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    The Field Museum of Natural History

    by traveldave Updated Oct 7, 2012

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    Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History is regarded by many as one of the best museums in the world for zoological, botanical, geological, and anthropological exhibits. The museum contains more than 21,000,000 specimens, only a small portion of which are on display at any one time. Among the museum's more noteworthy exhibits are Sue, the world's largest and most complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex, and the man-eating lions of Tsavo which were popularized by the book The Man-Eaters of Tsavo by John Henry Patterson, and The Ghost and the Darkness, the movie based on the book.

    The museum was incorporated in 1893 as the Columbian Museum of Chicago. Its name was changed to the Field Museum of Natural History in 1905 to honor its first benefactor, Marshall Field. The museum's collections were originally housed in the Palace of Fine Arts (now the Museum of Science and Industry) until 1921, when they were moved to their present location.

    The museum's building was designed by architect Daniel Burnham in the Classical Revival style of architecture. It was completed in 1921.

    The Field Museum of Natural History categorizes its exhibits among Nature (plants and animals, rocks and fossils, and ecosystems) and Culture/Anthropology (Africa, the Americas, Asia/Pacific, and global themes).

    Three main animal exhibits feature thousands of mounted mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects, many displayed in life-like dioramas that depict the animals' natural habitats. The most popular exhibits focus on the mammals of Africa and Asia. Included among the animal exhibits is a large collection of fossilized dinosaur skeletons. Among them is Sue, the 67,000,000-year-old Tyannosaurus rex. She is named after Sue Hendrickson, the paleontologist who discovered her. (Although the fossil's gender is not known, it is referred to as a female). She is 42 feet (13 meters) long and stands 13 feet (four meters) high at the hips.

    The museum has an impressive collection of rocks, minerals, and gems, including diamonds, on display in the Grainger Hall of Gems. The Hall of Jades features Chinese jade artifacts spanning over 8,000 years.

    In addition to its exhibits on natural history, the Field Museum of Natural History has one of the world's finest collections of cultural and anthropological artifacts. Its large collection of artifacts from Ancient Egypt includes 23 human mummies, the mummified remains of various types of animals, and a reconstructed tomb with 5,000-year-old hieroglyphs. The exhibits about the native cultures of the Americas contain artifacts spanning 13,000 years of human history throughout the Western Hemisphere, from the Arctic to the tip of South America. Other cultural exhibits feature artifacts from China, Tibet, Africa, and the Pacific islands.

    The Field Museum of Natural History has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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    The Harold Washington Library Center

    by traveldave Updated Sep 30, 2012

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    The Harold Washington Library Center is the central library for the Chicago Public Library System. Named for a former mayor of Chicago, the 756,640-square-foot (70,294-square-meter) building is the largest public library building in the world.

    The ten-story building was constructed between 1987 and 1991. It was designed by the architectural firm of Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge Architects. Their design was the winning entry in a design competition held to replace the old central library. The Beaux Art design was inspired by the nearby and historic Rookery, Auditorium, and Monadnock buildings. Seven large aluminum acroteria (Classic-style architectural ornaments that are mounted at the apex of a building's pediment) adorn the roofline. Designed by Kent Bloomer and Raymond Kaskey, some of the acroteria feature owls, the Greek symbol of knowledge, and others incorporate symbols of the Midwest.

    Although a public library is generally not a place visited by tourists, anyone interested in architecture who visits Chicago should at least pass by to view this huge building.

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    The Lincoln Park Zoo

    by traveldave Updated Sep 30, 2012

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    The most popular attraction in Lincoln Park is the free Lincoln Park Zoo. The zoo's main exhibits include big cats, polar bears, gorillas, monkeys, penguins, and reptiles. In all, about 1,250 individual animals are housed in the 35-acre (14-hectare) zoo.

    The Lincoln Park Zoo was established in 1868 when the Lincoln Park Board of Commissioners was given a pair of swans as a gift by New York City's Central Park Board of Commissioners. The expansion of the zoo's collection began in 1874 when a bear cub became the zoo's first purchase. Later, the world's first American bison born in captivity was born in Lincoln Park Zoo.

    Other features of the zoo include the Farm-in-the-Zoo and the Pritzker Family Children's Zoo. Donated by John Deere, the Illinois-based tractor company, the Farm-in-the-Zoo consists of several large red barns, and offers city dwellers a glimpse of life on a farm. It features pigs, cows, horses, goats, chickens, and other domestic farm animals. The petting zoo offers children the opportunity to pet, feed, and learn about farm animals. Visitors can also watch the daily milking of the cows and wander around the vegetable gardens. The Pritzker Family Children's Zoo houses wildlife native to the Midwest, such as black bears, red wolves, beavers, birds, and reptiles.

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    Lincoln Park

    by traveldave Updated Sep 30, 2012

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    Another of Chicago's lakeside parks is Lincoln Park, which is situated on land that was reclaimed from Lake Michigan. Lincoln Park stretches about seven miles (11 kilometers) from Oak Street in the south to Ardmore Avenue in the north. And with 1,208 acres (489 hectares) of land, it is the largest park in the city.

    Part of what is now Lincoln Park was originally taken up by several cemeteries that at the time were north of Chicago's limits. Due to health reasons the cemeteries were relocated, and the land was set aside as a park. Lake Park was created in 1860, but was renamed in 1865 to honor the recently assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

    Nowadays, about 20,000,000 people visit the park per year, making it the second most visited park in the United States, after Central Park in New York City. It is the location of such cultural attractions as the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Lincoln Park Conservatory, the Chicago History Museum, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, and a theater on the lake that hosts outdoor performances in the summer. The grounds also include lakes and lagoons, landscaped gardens, public art in the form of statues, a lily pool, and nature reserves.

    Lincoln Park abounds in sports facilities which include three harbors in which many of the sailboats that ply the waters of Lake Michigan are moored during the warmer months, an 18-mile (29-kilometer) lakeside cycling and walking trail, 15 baseball diamonds, six basketball courts, 35 tennis courts, 163 volleyball courts, softball fields, soccer pitches, a target-archery course, a driving range, a golf course, and seven public beaches.

    Lincoln Park has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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    The Museum of Science and Industry

    by traveldave Updated Sep 30, 2012

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    Located on the South Side of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry features hands-on exhibits that demonstrate scientific principles and how they are applied to industrial uses and everyday life. The 14-acre (seven-hectare) museum (including building and grounds) contains over 35,000 artifacts distributed among more than 2,000 exhibits displayed in 75 major halls. It is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere.

    The building which houses the Museum of Science and Industry is the only major surviving structure from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. The Beaux Art building was designed by architect Charles Atwood and was called the Palace of Fine Arts during the exposition. After the exposition ended, it housed the Columbian Museum of Chicago which later became the Field Museum of Natural History. After the Field Museum of Natural History moved to its new location in 1921, the building stood abandoned until it was renovated to house the Museum of Science and Industry.

    The Museum of Science and Industry was organized in 1926 with an initial endowment from Julius Rosenwald, the then-president of Sears, Roebuck and Company. At first it was called the Rosenwald Industrial Museum, but Rosenwald did not want the museum named after him, so its name was changed in 1928. Although what would become the Museum of Science and Industry was organized in 1926, it did not exist as a museum until it first opened in 1933.

    One of the museum's most popular exhibits features an assortment of aircraft, including a Junkers Ju 87 R-2/Trop Stuka divebomber, one of only two such aircraft remaining in the world; a Supermarine Spitfire; two warplanes from the Second World War donated by the British government; and a Boeing 727 jet aircraft donated by United Airlines.

    The museum has a fine collection of historic locomotives and trains, including the Pioneer Zephyr, the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train, and the 999 Empire State Express steam locomotive, the first vehicle to attain the speed of 100 miles per hour (161 kilometers per hour). The train exhibit also has an impressive 3,500-square-foot (325-square-meter) model railroad.

    The museum's Henry Crown Space Center includes the Apollo 8 spacecraft that carried the first astronauts around the moon, the Mercury Atlas 7 spacecraft, a lunar module trainer, a life-size mock-up of a space shuttle, and an Omnimax Theater which features films about space exploration.

    Visitors can learn about weather in the museum's Science Storms center. Exhibits include a 40-foot (12-meter) vapor tornado, a tsunami tank which replicates waves and tsunamis, a Tesla coil which simulates lightning, a heliostat system which is an integral part of generating solar power, and a Wimshurst influence machine which is an electrostatic generator.

    Other major exhibits include a U-505 German submarine captured during the Second World War, a full-size replica of a coal mine, and a mock-up of a cobbled Chicago street from the early twentieth century, complete with gas lamps, fire hydrants, and shops.

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Illinois Hotels

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