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The Shawnee National Forest is famed for its awesome Garden of the Gods, and is home to the Rim Rock Recreational Trail (the forest has a system of 403 miles of equestrian/hiking trails). Hikers are greeted by magnificent jutting walls of rock covered with emerald-green moss, and paths that meander through canyons under the forest canopy. Nestled between the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the stunning Shawnee National Forest landscape features rolling hills, lakes, creeks and rugged bluffs. If you’re into climbing than a must-see is Jackson Falls, located near the town of Ozark in the Hidden Springs Ranger District in Shawnee National Forest. The climb takes place on 60 feet of sandstone cliffs and boulders that include numerous freestanding towers.
There's more than 200 beautifully landscaped acres to explore at Brookfield Zoo. Highlights include dolphin shows at Seven Seas, ape encounters at Tropic World and the chance for kids to dress up and play veterinarian at the Hamill Family Play Zoo. The zoo also offers an old-fashioned carousel and a wide variety of shopping and dining options.
The Chicago Botanic Garden opened a little more than 40 years ago as a beautiful place to visit, and it has matured into one of the world's great living museums and conservation science centers. Each year, nearly one million people visit the Garden's 26 gardens and four natural areas, uniquely situated on 385 acres of land on and around nine islands. Six miles of shoreline extend along 81 acres of water, including the Great Basin, North Lake, and Skokie River Corridor. The Garden also has a renowned Bonsai Collection.
The Nest at Palisades Cabins offer secluded luxury cabins designed to provide charm, quiet luxury and romance. We’re located on a wooded acreage high above the Mississippi River minutes from Savanna, the Palisades State Park and an easy 20 minute drive to Galena.
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.
Noted in Midwest Living magazine as "a riverside retreat for the romantic," Tara Point Inn is known for its incredible accommodations and breathtaking views of the Mississippi River. Atop the palisades bluffs above Grafton, visitors can choose either the main inn or a secluded cozy cabin escape to what some call the most pleasantly memorable getaway experiences in the Midwest.
Central Illinois lake with over 11,000 water acres and 172 miles of shoreline. Lake Shelbyville has 5 federal campgrounds, and 2 state campgrounds with over 1,000 campsites from tent camping up to full hookup. There are several recreational areas with picnic areas and pavilions and 2 wildlife management areas. Three public beaches are available for swimming on the lake. The lake also hosts many launching ramps that are available for boats, and 3 marinas on the lake. Many hiking trails also encompass the lake such as the General Dacey which also includes fitness stations, the Chief Illini trail and others.
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!
Relax, reflect and unwind in this private guest house that is a turn-of-the-century cottage completely restored with modern amenities. Located high above the confluence of the Mississippi & Illinois Rivers, it offers a quiet retreat with a spectacular view, yet it is only one block from village shops, marina, restaurants, bike trails and the scenic byway.
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.
A unique, 2,000-acre zoological park which is home to wolves, bison, waterfowl, black bear, elk, cougar, otter, and others. You will enjoy the park's spectacular natural settings, butterfly garden, wildflowers, lakes and restored prairies.
The Christkindlmarket is a four-week, open-air market modeled after the famous Nuremberg Christmas market dating back to 1545. The market offers shopping opportunities and serves as a winter wonderland meeting place for family and friends. Plus, enjoy German delicacies like brats, goulash and potato pancakes while you’re there.
The Starved Rock State Park Visitors Center has several interactive displays, free videos on the park, hiking maps, and more. Trailheads Concessions & Gifts, also located here, is a great place to buy gifts, souvenirs, and snacks (fresh fudge, too)! The Visitor Center and Trailheads are open year-round.
Established in 1915, this free zoo is open daily, year round. Exhibits include bald eagles, wolves, mountain lions, foxes, otters, elk, goats, llamas, turkeys and peacocks.
Located in the heart of the mid-west in Monroe Center, Illinois, just a 20 minute drive south from Rockford, a quiet, majestic dwelling sits among the trees that seclude Kilbuck Creek from sight of even its closest neighbors. This secluded sanctuary in the wilderness could be the location of your upcoming wedding, family reunion, church or business retreat or romantic getaway.
Enter a winter wonderland illuminated by the laughter of children and more than one million lights at Lincoln Park Zoo’s annual ZooLights. This holiday classic has become one of the Windy City’s must-see seasonal events. Join us for the brilliance of this fun, free, family-oriented holiday celebration, featuring luminous displays and holiday-season activities throughout zoo grounds. Animal exhibits stay open late as guests roam taking in the lights, music and taking photos with Santa. Prepare holiday crafts and enjoy the zoo’s incredible animals immersed in an atmosphere unlike any other.
This beautiful 715-acre state park with a 40-acre lake derives its name from a combination of the town of Lena and the Latin work for water, aqua. Lake Le-Aqua-Na offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities including more than 10 miles of mult-use trails. The large tracts of wooded land include oak, hickory, walnut and pine trees. Woodland flowers are on display, especially in the spring and early summer, and wildlife is abundant. There is boating, fishing, a children's fishing pond, swimming, picnic and playground areas, shelters, trails for mountain biking, hiking and cross-country skiing, equestrian trails, sledding, hunting and camping.
The University of Illinois Arboretum is a living laboratory, including plant collections and facilities that support the teaching, research and public service programs of several units throughout campus. Central to the Arboretum was the development of the "All American Selection Trial Gardens" established by a bequest from Miles C. Hartley in the early 90s. Other highlights of the Arboretum include the Welcome Garden, Hosta Garden, Kari Walkway and native ponds plantings, the Idea Garden, sponsored by Champaign County Master Gardeners, and the Japanese Tea and Dry Gardens at the Japan House.
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.
As is tradition, the museum's 45-foot Grand Tree takes center stage in the Rotunda decked out in 30,000 lights. It takes on a different theme each year so expect giant gears to be part of the decor to match the special MSI exhibit, Robot Revolution. Surrounding it will be more than 50 smaller trees beautifully decorated by volunteers from Chicago communities to represent their various cultures and holiday traditions. The occasional falling of "snow" adds to the fun. . New this year, and in conjunction with MSI’s Brick by Brick exhibit, guests can create their own holiday trinket to remember their visit—a LEGO® ornament.
This beautiful spot features five acres of landscaped gardens including the Woodland Garden, Children's Garden, Herb Garden and several others. Tropical conservatory is open year-round. Outdoor Garden is open 8:30am to dusk year-round. Closed Mondays.
Japan House offers the public an opportunity to learn about traditional Japanese culture through tea ceremonies, workshops and special events through the year. The beautiful Japan House gardens are open from dawn to dusk for you to stroll through and enjoy. The Japan House closes during the summer. Call for information on tea ceremonies and tours.
Find serenity at this beautiful 1700-acre wooded park situated along an old stagecoach route between Galena and Beardstown. Featuring 95-acre Argyle Lake, the park is home to countless beaver dams and more than 200 bird species and 5 miles of hiking and biking trails.
The Cache River Wetlands offers great opportunities for eagle watching, as well as spotting other birds. The Cache River Wetland Center provides resource and identification materials to help you spot eagles and other birds in the area and along the rivers. They will provide maps and directions to the viewing station for the nest just off Illinois Route 37 off Perks road and south of the visitor's center.