Mostly made up of endless farms and fields, Illinois is also home to Chicago; one of the largest, most-visited and most important cities in the nation. Due to its rural and urban divides, its diverse cultures, cities and landscapes and its location in America’s heartland, the Land of Lincoln is often said to be a microcosm of the entire United States.
Located in both the Midwest and Great Lakes regions, Illinois is bordered clockwise by Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Iowa. In addition, it also shares a water boundary with the state of Michigan in the northeast thanks to the large and lovely Lake Michigan. While much of it is rural, some valleys, forests and hills do break up the monotony of the plains and prairies while the Mississippi, Ohio and Wabash rivers form parts of its boundaries.
The main place that everyone heads is, of course, the cosmopolitan Chicago which is renowned for its impressive architecture, world-class museums and skyscraper-studded skyline that rises above Lake Michigan’s glimmering waters. On top of all its iconic sights and diverse neighborhoods, the massive metropolis is also famed for its jazz and blues scenes, its big sporting teams and myriad excellent restaurants and bars.
While the Windy City’s enticing attractions understandably dominate most visitors’ itineraries, the rest of the state has a lot to offer with Route 66 winding its way past many of its cities and sights. Galena for instance is packed with amazing historic landmarks while the capital Springfield boasts many monuments and museums relating to Abraham Lincoln – the city and state’s most famous son.
Nature lovers will instead want to explore Shawnee National Forest’s woods and rock formations or see Starved Rock State Park’s stunning canyons and waterfalls. One of the most fascinating places to visit in Illinois is the incredible Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site; a ginormous prehistoric city that was formed by Native Americans over 800 years ago.