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32nd Annual Doc Spackman Triathlon
Come to southern Illinois and compete in one of the most long-standing triathlons in the world - the 32nd Doc Spackman Triathlon Festival. New this year are two triathlon distances to choose from- the ever popular Doc Spackman “Classic” Triathlon (350m. swim, 5 mile bike, 2 mile run) and the new Spackman Sprint Triathlon (700m. swim, 10 mile bike, and 4 mile run). The event also offers a Kids/Family .5 mi run/walk, followed by a Standup Paddle board timed race — perfect for kids of all ages.
Allerton Park & Retreat Center
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.
Amboy Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary
The Amboy Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary is 272 acre of wetlands offering a rare and fragile ecosystem, which includes endangered turtles, many birds and unique plant life. It is located near the intersection of U.S. Route 52 and Mormon Road about 3 miles south of Amboy. Open to the public 7 days a week for walking and bird-watching. No dogs are allowed due to sensitive plant and wildlife.
Amish Country Tours
A step on guide will accompany your tour of the Amish countryside. The tours will also include meals in Amish homes, and Amish home, buggy shop, dairy farm and woodworking tours. Additional highlights include an Amish museum, local attractions, restaurants, and accommodations.
Anderson Japanese Gardens
Rockford's 12-acre, "pond-strolling" Japanese garden is acclaimed as one of the top two authentic formal Japanese gardens outside of Japan. Winding paths, serene waterfalls, Sukiya-style buildings, and a gift shop selling authentic Japanese crafts make the gardens a must-see.
Anita Purves Nature Center
Located at the north end of Crystal Lake Park, this environmental education facility is a natural resource to individuals, families and groups interested in learning more about the outdoors. The Nature Center features four multi-purpose rooms, an exhibit field station, an Observation Room, the Audubon Nature Shop and an Educator Resource Room. The adjacent Busey Woods is perfect for hiking and bird watching.
Anna Bethel Fisher Rock Garden
Created in 1927 from an old sand pit across the road from Lake Decatur, the city's oldest garden was extensively renovated in 1992. Its resurrected look features secluded paths leading through rocky terraces planted with unusual trees, and landscapes brimming with colorful perennials. Towering bald Cypress trees, planted in the 1920s, still reign over these delightful grounds.
Anthony Acres Resort
Anthony Acres Resort has picturesque views of Lake Sara. The resort is only five minutes from Effingham, so you can come into town and enjoy some food or shop.
Apple River Canyon State Park
Apple River Canyon State Park is in the hilly northwest corner of Illinois in Jo Daviess County near the Wisconsin border. Limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams and wildlife characterize this area. Once a part of a vast sea bottom that stretched from the Alleghenies to the Rockies, the scenic canyon area was formed by the action of the winding waters of the Apple River. The park offers hiking, day use, camping and fishing, plus Millville, a National Historic Register site.
CITY: Apple River
Apple River Canyon State Park - Thompson/Salem Units
This 1,150 acre area allows hunting, fishing; no boating/biking. See postings/fact sheets at registration. Sign in/out at lots #1 or #2. The vegetative cover at the site is a mixture of steep timbered slopes and bluffs with grassland, row crops and hay fields predominate on ridge tops. The topography can be severe especially bordering the Apple River.
Argyle Lake State Park
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.
Arrowhead Lake and Campground
Located on the northeast corner of Johnston City, this 35-acre lake includes a paved boat ramp for fishing, walking path, and campground. Only electric motors and canoes are permitted. You will find largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black and white crappie, and channel catfish in this small reservoir. Pedal boat rentals are available from July-September.
CITY: Johnston City
Artesian Well at Paradise Cove
Nestled along Indian Creek is a natural artesian well where thousands of gallons of pure water flow each day - as it has since 1927. A ten foot water wheel is turned continually by the flowing water. The site, which is accessed by Stephenson County's only covered bridge, includes a waterfall, large flower beds and gazebo to enjoy while sipping the bubbling water. Open: 7 am - 8 pm.
Ballard Nature Center
Just minutes away from the city but a world away, Ballard Nature Center is home to dozens of species of birds and wildlife. Natural prairie, wetlands, butterfly and hummingbird gardens, ponds and creeks round out the outdoor experience.
A 32-acre park built in cooperation with Batavia Park District, the city of Batavia and the Batavia Riverwalk Committee. Park your bikes by the Depot Museum and stroll the boardwalks through the wildflower garden.
Belle of the Rock
The Belle of the Rock paddle boat tours are located at historic Starved Rock state park in Utica, Illinois (just 80 miles west of Chicago). In addition to the river tours, we provide canoes and kayaks. Call us today at 815-434-9200 to make your reservation.
Bicentennial Riverfront Park
Bicentennial Riverfront Park is a five-acre community park on the south bank of the Fox River. Built by volunteers on Hydraulic Street, Bicentennial Riverfront Park makes optimum use of the river, with abundant fishing, plus canoe and kayak access to the white water chute. There is also a beautiful view of the Glenn Palmer Dam as you follow the trail along the river and the picnic area, playground and river-side pavilion are popular community gathering spots in the summertime.
Bird Haven Greenhouse and Conservatory
Lord and Burnham designed this historic greenhouse featuring a tropical house, cacti room, show house and outdoor gardens.
Black Hawk State Historic Site
Wonderful for families, friends for outdoor recreation. Additionally, the Watch Tower Lodge has hosted thousands of wedding receptions and offers a lovely setting in the beautiful historic park. This wooded, steeply rolling 208-acre tract, borders the Rock River in the city of Rock Island. Prehistoric Indians and 19th-Century settlers made homes here, but the area is most closely identified with the Sauk nation and its great warrior, Black Hawk. Voted one of the "7 Wonders of Illinois," this pristine park offers beautiful trails for hiking and walking only. Picnic areas are also available. While at the park be sure to visit the Watch Tower Lodge that houses a large reception area and the John Hauberg Indian Museum. The museum features Sauk and Meskwaki Native American Indian artifacts and displays depicting the four seasons and life of these tribes. A new exhibit tells the story of the Sauk and Meskwaki—how they came to live in the Quad City area, why they no longer live here, and, as the piece de resistance, a four-by-eight-foot scale model of the city of Saukenuk one of the largest Native American Indian settlements in the United States.
CITY: Rock Island
Bluffdale Vacation Farm
Bluffdale is an Illinois farm vacation dude ranch and bed & breakfast. Parent Magazine's "Top 10 Family Resorts in North America." Our family has been welcoming guests to our historic Illinois farm near Eldred, Illinois since 1963. Recreation activities include horseback riding, boating, fishing, swimming, hayrides, bonfires, sing-alongs and more. Bluffdale is famous for its generous home cooked meals with home baked bread, rolls and pies. Our luxury cabins, featuring a fireplace and hot tub, are ideal for romantic getaway weekend or honeymoon bed & breakfast lodging. Spring brings a wide variety of wildflowers and morel mushrooms. In fall the bluffs make a colorful drive and eagle watch from Alton to Bluffdale along the Great River Road, a National Scenic Byway. Check our website for rates and availability.
Bobber's River Tap
Bobber's is an open, outdoor, deck bar and picnic area, along the banks of the Pecatonica River. A relaxing stop for travelers by road or river. Bobber's is a converted 95 year old lumberyard. Bring your own pole and boat, or just sit and relax with a cold drink and watch the river flow by. Open: May thru October: Sunday: Noon - 10 pm; Thursday thru Saturday: 11 am - 1 am.
Get into the swing of spring at Bonner Heritage Farm! Enjoy a variety of spring-themed activities, crafts and demonstrations. Wagon rides, farm animals, food and entertainment round out the afternoon. Be sure to take a guided tour of the Bonner farmhouse.
Boone County Conservation District
The Boone County Conservation District manages over 3,00 acres of prairies, woodlands and wetlands in scenic Boone County, Illinois. Minimum impact recreational opportunities, special events and educational programs are offered to the public throughout the year.
The newly renovated Bowen park's theme for their new playground is "Forest Findings". The overall layout offers tiered play areas arranged on the northwest hillside of Bowen Park. Fun and learning will go hand-in-hand as children and their families enjoy modern playground amenities, combined with several environmental learning stations that represent a forest ecosystem. Parents and kids alike will also enjoy the six-station fitness/exercise trail located on the perimeter of the playground.
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.
Hike or bike into Buehler Preserve from Galena and experience the prairie life! Pets welcome. Fishing is allowed.
Buffalo Rock State Park
On the bluffs of the Illinois River, this small but charming park is home to an enormous outdoor sculpture. Mounds representing five earthen sculptures molded from Illinois clay, known as Effigy Tumuli, invite visitors to walk around and explore. All five subjects, including a snake, turtle, catfish, frog and insect are native to the Illinois River area. This State Park offers the ideal terrain for the beginner hiker.
C.J. Smith Resort
For 84 years, C. J. Smith Resort has provided everything needed to enjoy a day of fishing and boating on the beautiful Chain O' Lakes in northern Illinois. C. J. Smith Resort is a family owned and operated business since 1929. We believe in providing exceptional service and reasonable prices to our valued customers and guests.
Cache River State Natural Area
Renowned for its ancient cypress-tupelo swamp, this natural area has been named one of America's 10 Most Beautiful Hidden Gems by Budget Travel. This sprawling area contains 100 threatened or endangered plant and animal species, and 11 state champion trees that have stood for centuries. Visitors enjoy birding, hunting, wildlife watching, canoeing and hiking. Bikers can access the Cache River via the Tunnel Hill State Trail.
Come out to Camp Lakewood and enjoy the views of Lake Pauline plus all the creature comforts. Camp Lakewood is an RV campground. The sites include cable, WiFi, 30/50 AMP. They also offer a one and two bedroom cabin that is fully furnished and self contained. The newest cabin sleeps five and includes Cable TV. They do offer tent sites as well for those who want to be a little closer to nature.
Canoe the Vermilion
This outfitter in the Illinois Valley offers canoe equipment, instruction, and transportation to help you fully enjoy this scenic stretch of the Vermilion River. Venture out on your own, or choose from excursions that include everything from picnics along the river to overnight camping trips.
DuPage County, Chicago’s Western Suburbs - Set among mature oak and hickory trees, lakes & streams, this full-service event facility with 27 holes of golf offers both 18 and 9-hole play and is nationally recognized as one of the best public courses in America. Cantigny Golf is a part of the McCormick Foundation, committed to making life better for our children, communities and country. As one of the nation’s largest public charities, we’ve granted more than $1 billion to organizations in local communities across the country. The golf course is part of the historic 500-acre Cantigny Park, where memorable family experiences happen. The grounds include museums, formal gardens and picnic areas.
Consisting of the Robert McCormick Mansion Museum, the First Division Military Museum, ten acres of gardens and parks, 27-hole championship golf course and nine-hole Cantigny Youth Links.
The largest man-made lake in Illinois (26,000 acres), is a premier location for outdoor sports. Known to sailors, it is one of the best and most challenging for sailboats. There is also boating, fishing, hunting, bird watching, sand beaches, and camping areas. Hotels, cabins and golf courses make the area a true outdoor lover's playground.
Casper Bluff Land & Water Reserve
Experience a commanding view of the Mississippi River and the only known intact thunderbird effigy mound in Illinois. Hiking, bird watching, sightseeing, Native American archaeology and much more on 85 acres of scenic Mississippi River bluffs.
Castle Rock State Park
Castle Rock State Park is located three miles south of Oregon on Highway 2. The 2,000-acre park includes rock formations, ravines, and unique northern plant associations. In one valley, 27 different types of ferns have been identified. A sandstone bluff, adjacent to the river, has given the park its name. Picnic area amenities include tables, shelters, grills, toilets, drinking water and playground equipment. Six miles of marked hiking trails have been developed, and a public boat ramp/parking facility is located across from the park's main entrance.
Center Children's Farm
Experience life down on the farm during guided family tours, or take a hike on the peaceful nature trail.
CITY: Palos Park
Cheif Keokuk Campground
The Chief Keokuk Campground features 70 pads with electrical hook-ups for trailers, plus 25 tent sites (All camping Class B/E). There is a shower building on site. A sanitary dump station is near the camping area. A primitive cabin, Chief Tecumseh, is also available. The cabin is located on a slope overlooking Johnson Lake. A fire grill, table and BBQ grill are provided outside. A full size bed, two sets of bunk beds, a table and benches are provided inside. The cabin has heat and air conditioning as well as two ceiling fans. Reservations can be made, for dates between May 1st and November 1st, at ReserveAmerica.com for the campgrounds and cabin.
One of Oak Park's finest showplaces, the 12,000 sq. foot, 1913 mansion is located in the Historic District. Reminiscent of a gracious English country home and surrounded by 2 acres of beautiful gardens, a greenhouse and coach house. It is available for private and corporate event rentals.
CITY: Oak Park
Chestnut Mountain Resort
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.
Chicago Botanic Garden
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.
Chicago Park District
Come out and play with the Chicago Park District. Founded in 1934, the Chicago Park District is the largest municipal park manager in the nation and owner of more than 8,100 acres of green space. We invite you to take in a concert or a movie at one of our 580 parks.
Columbia Woods Forest Preserve
A River Thru History
CITY: Willow Springs
Coral Woods - McHenry County Conservation District
This sugar maple forest provides the sweet sap necessary for annual maple sugar programs, and is also known for its magnificent display of spring wildflowers. Activities include hiking, x-country skiing, picnic shelters and scenic views.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is located primarily in Williamson County, with small extensions into eastern Jackson and northeastern Union counties of southern Illinois. At almost 44,000 acres and with three lakes, Crab Orchard, Little Grassy, and Devils Kitchen, endless opportunities abound for watching wildlife, hiking nature trails, photography, swimming, fishing from the bank or by boat, and hunting. Four seasonally operational campgrounds are open from April-October and offer full hook-up, water, electric, or non-electric sites. Refuge staff and volunteers at the visitor center welcome visitors and sightseers 7 days a week from 8am-4:30pm. Visitor activities such as guided hikes, bald eagle tours, and monthly F.U.N. programs help connect families with the diversity of flora and fauna that southern Illinois has to offer. The Refuge provides many opportunities for wildlife-dependent outdoor recreation for the nature lover in us all.
Dakota Nature Trail
The Dakota Nature Trail for biking, hiking, and cross-county skiing links Dakota Park with the Dorothy Wirth Nature Area. The trail surface is crushed limestone and follows a former railroad right-of-way. The trail begins on Main Street in Dakota.
Deer Grove Forest Preserve
Located in Palatine, IL, Deer Grove Forest Preserve has trails that offer a moderate level of difficulty. At almost 10 miles in length, the hiking trials make Deer Grove worth a visit. Split into two very individual sites connected by paved and unpaved trials, the east preserve features open wetlands surrounded by old fields and an in-progress savanna and prairie restoration. The west side is wilder, the forest denser and crisscrossed with footpaths along the rolling terrain. Quite woodlands, white-tailed deer and a completely different experience await the hiker on the west side. Both paths are equally enchanting.
The marina is surrounded by a nine acre green space with shelter and electricity for picnics or family reunions; public restrooms with showers; playground; grills and picnic tables. For more information on rentals, the picnic shelter, or winter storage, contact the marina or visit their website.
Devil's Kitchen Lake
This 810 acre lake with a maximum depth of 90 feet and a 24-mile shoreline is part of the Crab Orchard Refuge. It is stocked with rainbow and brown trout and provides largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, crappie, channel catfish, bullheads, and carp. Boat ramps are available. Boats have a 10-horsepower limit. Camping is available.
Dixon Springs State Park
Dixon Springs State Park is one of several state parks in the Illinois Shawnee Hills. Park visitors may enjoy the varied wildlife, take a swim in the outdoor pool or simply soak up the relaxing atmosphere of the moss-covered boulders, craggy overhangs, and rushing brook.
Restaurants and shopping line this downtwon area. Home to the Itasca Art and Wine Festival. Scenic Riverwalk takes you from the nature center to the waterpark.
Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa
At Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa go golfing on one of four championship courses, horseback riding along hilly wooded trails, boating on the sapphire waters of Lake Galena, or soaring over the countryside in a hot air balloon with Galena on the Fly. Relax in the luxury of the resort’s Stonedrift Spa with a pampering massage. Eagle Ridge offers a wide variety of lodging that ranges from traditional inn rooms to golf villas and distinctive homes.
Eagle Watching - Union County Refuge
The Union County Refuge in Union offers a popular spot for bald eagle watching. Visitors can view bald eagles and take wildlife photography off the main road, which runs down the middle of the wildlife refuge. Park rangers will be available weekdays to answer questions about the eagles and other wildlife spotted in the refuge. Admission is free. For more information on eagle watching, contact the Union County Refuge (618-833-5175).
Ecology Action Center
This walk-in information and environmental education center offers workshops on recycling, composting and energy saving.
Effingham Park District
Effingham has four community parks. All offer baseball diamonds, play grounds, basketball courts and great areas for family picnics.
Fabyan Japanese Garden
A tranquil oasis where history melds with nature and design. This historic garden affords the opportunity to experience the uniqueness of Japanese gardening and enjoy a moment of harmony with nature.
Fermi is the site of the world's most powerful particle accelerator, where particles circle the four-mile ring 57,000 times each second. Restored prairie grass areas, historic barns and a buffalo herd are also on display.
Ferne Clyffe State Park
The lush vegetation of the 2,430-acre Ferne Clyffe State Park, located near the small town of Goreville, IL hides the fact that directly below the soil, a vast area of rock formations exists. The two main areas for rock climbing include Big Rocky Hollow and the Cedar Bluff areas. Cedar Bluff offers both traditional and sport climbing, including several short, but difficult, routes in the class 12 to 13 range that appeal to experienced climbers. Other routes include top-rope access and solid anchors that appeal to new climbers.
Forest Park Nature Center
500-acre Illinois nature preserve offering 7 miles of hiking trails ranging from rigorous uphill courses to flatter, less strenuous paths. The center also features a natural history museum, spacious bird watching room, nature hikes, guided walks and a nature store.
Forest Preserve District of Will County
Biking and running trails, bird watching, camping, cross-country skiing, sledding, outdoor ice skating, canoeing and rafting and fishing. The district office provides all information on preserves and issues picnic permits.
Fox River Bike Trail
Dawn until dusk, a 36 m. trail is the forefront of outdoor recreation passing through Elgin, St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia and Aurora. It winds along the banks of the Fox River through miles of prairie grass, overshadowing trees and blooming flowers.
Fox River Trail
32 miles of biking, hiking and cross-country skiing featuring some of the most scenic trails of the Fox River. Points of interest include Carpenters Dam, Fox River Shores, Tyler Creek, Voyageur Landing, Shoemaker Nature Center and Fabyan Forest Preserve.
CITY: St. Charles
Fox River Trail
Located in Algonquin only 30 short miles west of downtown Chicago is where you will find the Fox River Trail. This medium level trail hugs the Fox River between Aurora and Algonquin. The trail travels along the routes of historic railroad lines and crosses six bridges along the way while it changes surfaces between concrete, asphalt and crushed stone on its way through charming towns such as Carpentersville, Elgin and West Dundee.
This 20-year-old herb and perennial plant nursery offers more than 200 varieties of common and uncommon plants. Sip a glass of lemonade as you view the gardens, feed the catfish in the pond and shop for garden items.
Frank Holten State Park
A great place to spot water birds, fish, boat, or play a round of golf. The park covers 1,125 acres, including two lakes and a wetlands area.
CITY: East St. Louis
Freeport Canoe Company
Enjoy canoeing from the McConnell Bobtown Landing to McNeil's Damascus Landing or to Tutty's Crossing in downtown Freeport. Groups, individual canoeists, and beginning or seasoned paddlers are welcome. $50 rental per canoe. Ages 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult; ages 18 to 18 must have parental consent form.
Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center
Educational facility offering exhibits, interactive programs and interpretive trails that highlight DuPage County's unique natural history. Open daily. Admission free.
CITY: Oak Brook
Galena River Trail
Scenic biking and hiking along a six-mile trail featuring views of the Galena River and towering bluffs.
Garden of the Gods
Explore the dramatic rock formations, cliffs and trails of the most visited site in the Shawnee National Forest. Millions of years in the making, the Garden of the Gods provides spectacular views unlike anywhere in the Midwest. See Camel Rock, Anvil Rock, Devil's Smoke Stack and other magnificent rock formations in this hiker’s and photographer’s wonderland.
CITY: Karbers Ridge
Gardens of Heartland Hall
Located just minutes outside of Effingham. The Gardens of Heartland can fully satisfy your requirements for affordable & elegant receptions & outdoor weddings, or small gatherings.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest gardens under glass in the world. Opened in 1908, this landmark building was the vision of celebrated landscape architect Jens Jensen. The eight exhibit halls feature plants from around the world.
Located 4 miles north of I-80 at exit 19 and adjacent to the historic Hennepin Canal. Shady, quiet camping in the midst of nature's wonders. Spend a night in one of our four rustic cabins. Try the Yurt Accomodations. It is 20 foot diameter, and sleeps 8. It has one queen bed and 2 bunk beds with a full on bottom and twin on top Rent a canoe or kayak and relax on historic Hennepin Canal. Bring you own bicycle or simply walk to enjoy the recreational trail along the Hennepin Canal. The town of Geneseo has great Victorian homes with welcoming porches. In additional to the RV camp sites, there are 12 tent sites available. Internet services on site.
Giant City State Park
Spectacular woodlands and sheer sandstone walls create a challenge for rock climbing and rappelling, as well as hiking. Outdoor lovers will also find horseback riding, a lookout tower, cabins and a swimming pool. Dine at historic Giant City Lodge, known for its homemade fried chicken dinner. Two different locations in Giant City State Park near Carbondale give you climbing options. A trail behind the picnic shelter takes you to a set of steep bluffs known as Shelter #1 near the Makanda entrance; another climbing area of the park includes the steep sandstone cliffs in Devil's Standtable. Plan to bring all of your own equipment since no permanent anchors are allowed. Ropes are permitted in both areas. After rainstorms, the wet sandstone gets really slippery. Use caution when grabbing for ledges as copperhead snakes warm themselves on the rocks during sunny days.
Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area
Largest tall grass prairie in Illinois. Big bluestem, Indian grass, and switchgrass thrive here, as do broad-leafed flowering plants known as forbs. Hiking and cross-country skiing.
Grosse Point Lighthouse
Built on the shores of Lake Michigan by the United States Government in 1873 after several shipwrecks demonstrated its need, this was the lead lighthouse marking the approach to Chicago. In 1999, Grosse Point Lighthouse was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service; the first lighthouse on the Great Lakes to carry that status. The Garden Club on Evanston maintains wildflower and butterfly gardens on its property.
Bea Gurler was nine years old when her father George moved his family into the house in 1893. Her cousins, the children of her father’s brother Henry, had been living since 1888 in the Ellwood Mansion. Everyone said it was magnificent. Bea’s parents George and Zillah, evidently shared a taste in homes that favored the elegance of simplicity. It was the unimposing yet dignified structure on Pine Street–where the back door was always open. George and Henry Gurler were both prominent businessmen, and joint owners of a number of dairies. They quickly became world-famous and respected by many dairy farmers. Bea eventually made it a goal of hers to renovate The Gurler House to be the home that she once new and loved. The Gurler House hosts an annual Folk Music Festival every summer, where people are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the music. While you are at The Gurler House, make sure to take a walk through their beautiful garden.
Half Day Forest Preserve
This quiet and clean preserve features a 1-mile trail for hikers, bicyclists and cross-country skiers, three beautiful picnic shelters, a 3-acre pond for fishing, open playfields and a playground. The Half Day Forest Preserve is also the starting point for the Des Plains River Trail which links this preserve to the Wright Woods Forest Preserve. The entrance and parking area are located on Route 21 (Milwaukee Avenue) at the light for Woodlands Parkway, south of Route 60 (Townline Road) and just north of Route 22 (Half Day Road).
CITY: Vernon Hills
Hanover Bluff Natural Area
Sixteen-acre public lake located in southern Jo Daviess County. Largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish. No boating. Sign in/out at the visitor parking lot. 350 acres for public hunting.
Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve
This nature reserve is the perfect place to bring the family. Hike 450 natural acres, home of nine Illinois endangered or threatened plants and animals. Hanover Bluff Nature Preserve is The Prairie State's 150th nature preserve.
Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park
The Hennepin Canal State Park, a 104-mile linear park, is a rustic, historic, educational, and recreational jewel spanning five counties and includes the entire width of Henry County with access points in Annawan, Atkinson, Geneseo, and Colona. It offers an up-close look at a fascinating piece of transportation history. It is popular with bicyclists who ride from town to town exploring the history, dining, lodging, and entertainment possibilities as they travel. The canal multi-purpose recreational trail is a portion of the American Discovery Trail, a 6,800-mile coast-to-coast trail devoted to non-motorized use. It is also part of the Grand Illinois Trail, a 535-mile loop through northern Illinois. The tree-lined park is a refuge with prairie restorations and wetlands slicing through corn and soybean farmland. Home to diverse flora and fauna, it has become a favorite for bird watchers and prairie enthusiasts. It offers numerous year-round opportunities to boat, hike, bike, fish, ride horseback, snowmobile, ice skate, and cross-country ski. Explore Henry County’s jewel – the Hennepin Canal. In wintertime experience the longest snowmobile trail in the state -- 91 miles on the tow path. You can use the ice at your own risk, but pay heed to the locks, bridges and culverts where the ice likely is thinner than the rest of the canal. Bring your blades, skating along the canal is free! Keep in mind the rule is there must be 4" of snow and 6" of frost on canal for route to be open. Call the Visitor Center for automated message.
Homer Lake Forest Preserve
Homer Lake Forest Preserve contains 892 acres for fishing, boating, hiking picnicking, cross-country skiing and sledding. Also available is an exciting Homer Lake Interpretive Center, which hosts thousands every year through programs like "Homer Lake Take Me Fishing" and the unique Natural Playscape.
I&M Canal State Trail
Enjoy hiking, jogging, cross-country skiing, camping, snowmobiling, fishing, boating, canoeing and biking along the I&M Canal State Trail. This 61-mile recreational trail begins at Brandon Road in Rockdale and parallels the canal to LaSalle Peru.
Iris and Jack Witkowsky State Wildlife Area
A part of the Apple River Canyon State Park Complex, the Iris and Jack Witkowsky State Wildlife Area is 1,100 acres for public hunting and nature viewing. Beginning of a transcontinental bluebird trail segment. Sign in/out at lots #1 or #4.
Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center
The Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center is a joint project of the Homewood-Flossmoor (HF Parks.com) and Olympia Fields (OF Parks.com) park districts. The near 40-acre nature preserve is home to a diversity of wildlife and habitat types. See beautiful woods, wildflowers, birds and furry friends along the way. There are trails along both sides of the park which is located at Vollmer and Western Avenues in Olympia Fields. Please be careful when crossing Vollmer Road. The Park is open to the public daily, sunrise to sunset
CITY: Olympia Fields
Keough Effigy Land & Water Reserve
Explore the past along Keough's hiking trails. Come and see its mining and Native American history.
Guests have the opportunity to rent canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats to explore the rivers and lakes at Kickapoo State Park. Canoe and kayak trips (8 or 13 mile) are offered or rentals can be done by the hour. Following your adventure, guests can grab a bite to eat at the on-site Dockside Cafe which offers live music throughout the summer.
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden is a 155-acre “living museum” filled with spectacular gardens and rare trees. A handicapped-accessible paved path winds through the arboretum, and kids will have fun navigating the maze in the Children’s Garden.
This beautiful Freeport park offers an antique carousel, waterfall, seasonal duck pond, miniature golf course, 18-hole disc golf course, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a quarter mile nature trail, paddle boats, canoes, fishing, hiking, biking, a performance amphitheater, gardens, picnic areas, shelters, playgrounds including "Kid's Kastle", and sledding in the winter. The Yellow Creek Adventure Golf Course (miniature golf) is open daily from Memorial Day thru Labor Day from Noon to Dusk. The Disc Golf Course is open during regular park hours and is free to play. The carousel is open prior to Memorial Day on weekends from Noon to Dusk and from Memorial Day to Labor Day, it is open daily from Noon to Dusk. Yellow Creek boat rentals, including the duck paddle boats or the larger swan boat, are available daily from Memorial Day thru Labor Day weekend from Noon to Dusk. Park attractions are open seasonally; call ahead to confirm availability of specific attractions.
Lake County Forest Preserve
We currently manage 25,268 acres of land and offer innovative educational, recreational and cultural opportunities for all ages. Visitors enjoy nearly 112 miles of trail for a variety of outdoor recreation uses, fishing ponds and lakes, public access to the Fox River, award-winning nature and history education programs and events, and three public golf courses. Facilities of special interest include Independence Grove near Libertyville, Ryerson Conservation Area near Deerfield, Lake County Discovery Museum near Wauconda, Greenbelt Cultural Center near Waukegan, and three golf courses (Brae Loch near Grayslake, Countryside near Mundelein, and ThunderHawk near Beach Park). Most Forest Preserves are open from 6:30 a.m. to sunset, every day of the year. Special hours apply at the golf courses, Discovery Museum, Greenbelt Cultural Center and Ryerson Woods.
The state's largest artificial body of water, Lake Decatur spans 2,800 acres, with 30 miles of shoreline offering recreational opportunities and wildlife vistas at lakeside parks and the city marina. Water sports include boating, fishing, sailing and jet skiing. While shoreline locations surrounding Nelson Park Marina offer miniature golf, dining, public gardens and picnic facilities.
Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park
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.
Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve
Lake of the Woods County Park is a 900-acre preserve that features an 18-hole regulation golf course, a 9-hole par 3 course and practice range, fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking, cross-country skiing, sledding the Hi-Tower bell carillon and observation area, a 3.3 mile bicycle/pedestrian path, the Museum of the Grand Prairie, Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens, building rentals and various programs.
A quiet cove at dawn, where the only sound is the whir of a casting reel and the gentle splash of the fly hitting the water’s surface...that’s Lake Sara. A sunny afternoon slalom skiing behind a powerboat or running along the beach...that’s Lake Sara. A family picnic in the grass at water’s edge or a family reunion, with fried chicken and the works, under one of the pavilions...that’s Lake Sara. Lake Sara is an 800-acre recreational lake nestled into a wooded shoreline, encircled by a winding road. Spend a day, a week, or a season on the shores of Lake Sara. Lake Sara has something for everyone, in every season of the year.
Lake Sara Pavilions
Two different locations on Lake Sara. The pavilions offer a chance to host a meeting on the lake. The two outdoor facilities are perfect for receptions and parties with plenty of outdoor space. It also features a large open room, kitchen area, boat dock and outdoor decks.
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.
Lake Vermillion County Park
Lake Vermilion County Park includes a boat ramp, dock complex, concession building, playground, and an open shelter. The park is open year round and considered 'high-use' during summer weekends with power boating (unlimited HP), jet skiing, water skiing, and fishing tournaments. Wildlife observation includes herons, river otters, and eagles. Lake Vermilion, 1,000 acres in size, is one of Illinois' most heavily stocked fishing lakes with bass, tiger muskies, catfish, crappie, and walleye being frequently fished.