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25 years ago, something astonishing happened in the historic city of Woodstock, Illinois. People came to town and roped off the picturesque city square, moved all sorts of equipment into the park and started playing the Pennsylvania Polka, over and over and over again. They were filming a movie that has become a favorite of young and old for more than 20 years, and the city gathers each year to remember the fun and celebrate the special community that Woodstock has always been. There are events for everyone during this celebration: Groundhog trivia, free viewing of "Groundhog Day" at the movie theater, walking tours of the film sites, a Chili cook-off, a dinner and dance, bowling, and pancake breakfasts. The main event for Groundhog Day is the annual prognostication. Gather on the Woodstock Square to see Woodstock Willie emerge from his tree trunk home. If he sees his shadow, it means there will be 6 more weeks of winter and if he doesn't see his shadow, it means we will have an early spring.
While rock climbing is prohibited, there are up to five canyons in which ice climbing is permitted when conditions allow. All ice climbers must sign in at the ranger station (Park Office) and must have a partner. Call ahead to check ice and other park conditions.
Shred down the slopes at Raging Buffalo Snowboard Park in Algonquin. Officially the world’s first snowboard exclusive area, the park features five different runs with numerous table tops, rails and half pipes to keep you getting air all winter long.
In the heart of the city you’ll find a state-of-the-art park designed for the new millennium. Discover the reflective Cloud Gate sculpture, the multimedia Crown Fountain and the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, all with Chicago’s stunning architecture as a backdrop. The park is also host to many free cultural programs, concerts and family activities. Plus, there's alfresco dining in the summer and an ice skating rink in the winter.
Five miles of scenic trails amidst a spectacular geological backdrop enable hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, runners and cross-country skiers to experience a peaceful jaunt through the park, while families congregate around fully-equipped, shaded picnic areas neighboring playgrounds, trailheads and 17th-Century restored French fort.
Explore the fabled canal route that connects Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River by way of the Illinois River. Once used by Native Americans and early explorers, today the trail meanders through four state parks with landscapes ranging from towering bluffs to rolling hills. Modern-day explorers can enjoy hiking, boating and even snowmobiling.
The North Pole has moved to Central Illinois. Try your luck at the 6+ acre corn maze, the Grand Prix style race track, pick a pumpkin or a Christmas tree (depending on season), stop by the fascinating gift shop and, of course, see the reindeer!
Explore a winter wonderland at The Morton Arboretum, where you'll find 3.5 miles of groomed ski trails. Bring your own or rent a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis (in children's and adult sizes). Ski trails are open when there are four or more inches of snow on the ground.
Ski along scenic slopes at Galena's Chestnut Mountain Resort, perched high above the Mississippi River. Rated by Ski Magazine as one of the top ski resorts in the Midwest, Chestnut Mountain goes all out with a snowboarding park and night skiing. Stay at the rustic 120-room lodge, which has three restaurants, including the fine-dining Sunset Grille. There are fun non-skiing activities in the summer as well, including boat cruises on the Mississippi Explorer and the exhilarating Alpine Slide, which speeds 2,000 feet down a hillside. Or try the new Segway Mountain Adventure Tours, a three-mile guided ride through rolling terrain.
Allerton Park was the private estate of Robert Henry Allerton, who donated it to the University of Illinois in 1946. It features 1,500 acres of woodlands, formal gardens and more than 100 sculptures. The park is open to the public for hiking, picnicking, cross-country skiing and leisurely garden strolls.