Winter reveals the magic of the holidays along with a whole new way to enjoy the outdoors. In Illinois, that means experiencing festivals awash in holiday lights. Grabbing the skis and heading for powdered slopes and trails. Or welcoming back thousands of bald eagles that make their winter home here.

Festive Lights

Rekindle the magic of the holidays.
As the holidays approach, Illinois is set aglow with millions of twinkling lights. From the Magnificent Mile to Galena’s historic Main Street, these holiday beacons welcome visitors with everything from dazzling parades to charming postcard settings.

Where to Go

  • Nov 23 -
    Dec 31

    East Peoria Festival of Lights & Folepi's Winter Wonderland

    CITY:East Peoria

    Imagine a raucous parade after dark, with floats wrapped in thousands of twinkling lights.
  • Nov

    Magnificent Mile Lights Festival


    Cap off a day of concerts and events in Chicago with a dazzling parade and fireworks.
  • Dec

    Night of the Luminaria


    Walk hand in hand through Galena with 5,000 glowing luminaries leading the way.
  • See all

Eagle Watching

See them up-close at tours and festivals.
The moving waters of the Mississippi River attract bald eagles here by the thousands from November through February. During their stay, the eagles take on celebrity status as local towns host festivals and tours in their honor. It’s a rare chance to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

Where to Go

  • Dec 20 -
    Feb 15

    Eagle Watching in Alton


    Watch from an overlook as eagles swoop down to the water below in search of food.
  • Jan 4 -
    Mar 1

    Bald Eagle Safari

    CITY:Rock Island

    Spot eagles through a scope for a magnified view that reveals the yellow of their eyes.
  • Jan 3 -
    Feb 28

    Eagle Watching at Starved Rock State Park


    Experience an eagle celebration set against the beauty of Starved Rock.
  • See all

Hit the Slopes

Down the hills and through the woods we go.
Winter is an open invitation to schuss, shred or glide your way through the Illinois terrain. Around the state you’ll find plenty of ski runs and snowboard parks, along with cross-country trails through forests transformed into winter wonderlands.

Where to Go

  • Chestnut Mountain Resort


    Ski 19 trails or snowboard the Farside terrain park before relaxing in your slope-side room.
  • Ski Snowstar Winter Sports Park


    Ski lessons, a tubing hill and 14 trails for all skill levels make Snowstar a family favorite.
  • Cross-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing at The Morton Arboretum


    Take in the quiet beauty as you glide through 1,700 acres of this winter wonderland.
  • Fever River Outfitters


    See the forest at twilight during a moonlight snowshoe tour capped off with a warming bonfire.
  • Matthiessen State Park - Cross Country Skiing


    Enjoy views of frosted rock formations while exploring six miles of flat and gently sloping trails.
  • Raging Buffalo Snowboard Park


    Head to this snowboarder haven for an ever-changing terrain park of half-pipes, tabletops and rails.
  • See all

Holiday Shopping

Add some haute couture to your holiday.
The holidays are a great excuse to do some serious shopping. In Illinois that means browsing upscale boulevards all decked out for the holidays, finding bargains at sprawling outlet malls and discovering one-of-a-kind gems at seasonal festivals.

Where to Go

  • Magnificent Mile Shopping


    Shop over 400 luxury stores on Chicago’s world-renowned Michigan Avenue.
  • State Street Shopping


    Indulgence meets bargains on this legendary street anchored by Macy’s historic flagship store.
  • Fashion Outlets of Chicago


    This high-end outlet mall caters to air travelers from nearby O’Hare Airport.
  • Chicago Premium Outlets, Aurora


    All your favorite brands in one place—just west of Chicago.
  • Oak Street Shopping


    Explore upscale boutiques, just steps from the Magnificent Mile.
  • Oakbrook Shopping Center

    CITY:Oak Brook

    Browse over 150 high-end stores conveniently located in this open-air mall.
  • Gurnee Mills


    Illinois’ fourth-largest indoor mall is home to over 200 outlet stores.
  • See all
Explore More

Discover more travel ideas for winter.

Between all the holiday attractions and winter activities, Illinois offers plenty of ways to experience the wonder that comes with this time of year.

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