I hope you are keeping cool. I'm sitting here dangling my feet in the creek to take the edge off the heat. The shade of this big old tree helps too. I have all the usual materials ready to plan my adventure in Illinois. I promise to take my feet out of the creek and dry them real good while I use the computer, but the rest of the time dangling is the thing. Take off your boots and dangle with me while we get ready to go to Illinois.

Illinois is known as one of our industrial states and is home to one of the most bustling cities in the United States, Chicago. We aren't going to deal much with Chicago because we want to be out in more natural settings. Don't get me wrong... there are lots of things to do there, but let's get a little more rural. If you are interested in Chicago, you can order a Guide to the city when you order your vacation guide to Illinois. There is also an official African-American Travel Guide. Just click on the link below and you can order what you are looking for and it's all free! 

The Land of Lincoln is the 21st state. The state amphibian is the Eastern Tiger Salamander and the official snack food is popcorn. Lewis and Clark began their famous expedition in Illinois. However, Frenchmen Marquette and Joliet are the first recorded Europeans in the area. But, wait... what does Illinois have to offer us nature lovers? There are over 60 state parks and at least that number of wildlife and recreation areas. The National Parks Service has adopted and preserved several of our country's most famous trails used by people on their way to settle in the west.

Some of the more fun places to visit are Olney, home to albino squirrels; Gays where you can see a two-story outhouse that was actually used; and luxury condos built for purple martins in Griggsville. Illinois is where the St Valentine's Day Massacre happened. You might want to check out the world's largest cross, the smiley face water tower, or see Santa Anna's leg that was captured to avenge the massacre at the Alamo.

For outstanding gardens, you could go to Glencoe to see Chicago Botanic Garden. It has more than 20 gardens, ranging from wild prairie gardens to romantic English gardens. The Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford have koi ponds and a 16th century style tea house. 

At Kankakee River State Park, a system of trails runs for miles past limestone canyons with a lot of wildlife. There are hiking, biking, and cross-country ski trails. If you'd rather ride, there are horse trails and snowmobiling. Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge allows you to hike among the wildflowers and do a little bird watching. Hiking in Giant City State Park is fun or maybe you would like the rock climbing or rappelling along the limestone cliffs instead. There is an ancient cypress-tupelo swamp at the Cache River State Natural Area.

I think the name of Starved Rock State Park is fun. Sandstone cliffs feature waterfalls and colorful canyons. In the winter, it's the place to be to watch bald eagles. In various other nature areas, you can boat, sky dive, segway, ride in a covered wagon, ride a biplane, float in a balloon, or paddle a canoe. There are Indian burial grounds, wetlands, and underground springs.

Looks like I'm going to have a great time. How about you? Let me know about your favorite spots in Illinois. I not only love to explore, I love to hear about other people's explorations. And be sure to check the links below. There are surprises to be found when you start to look for fun.


Illinois Travel Guide
Illinois Official Site
Illinois Department Of Natural Resources
National Parks In Illinois
Offbeat Tourist Attractions