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What a way to travel - about 75 miles, from one major river to another (the Illinois and the Mississippi), all on one newly built trail. The Hennepin Parkway State Trail (a linear state park) offers surcease from the flat, treeless Illinois prairie with a lock-strewn straight course of water and a green tunnel over the old tow path of a canal that was obsolete before it was completed. Quaint towns lie nearby, camping spaces (usually primitive) abound, and history is there for the dipping of your fingers in the water. At Sheffield, a comprehensive trail museum more than fills the gaps in your experience of a very unique way to travel through the heart of America.
The City of Aurora and Zagster, Inc. launched a new bike-share program that will provide Aurora visitors with a convenient, affordable and healthy way to get around town. 18 cruiser bikes are available at three downtown stations for riders to use for on-demand, local trips. Stations are located at RiverEdge Park - 360 Broadway Ave., Aurora City Hall - 44 E. Downer Place and Santori Public Library of Aurora - 101 S. River Street. This initiative creates new opportunities for visitors to experience the Aurora Area from a different vantage point and see it in a whole new light.
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.
At Eagle's Nest Bluff in Lowden State Park, proudly stands a 48-foot statue of a Native American quietly revering the beauty of the River Rock Valley below. Commonly called Black Hawk, after the legendary Chieftain, the statue was created as a tribute to all the Native Americans who once called the area their home.
Located one mile west of Princeton in Bureau County, Illinois is the Captain Swift Covered Bridge. Built in 2006, the bridge derives its strength from its burr arch design, an idea patented by Theodore Burr of New York in 1804. Made entirely of wood using 1800s concepts (it has an outer skin of Douglas Fir), the Captain Swift Covered Bridge is the only two-lane covered bridge in Illinois. It has a 16’-3” vertical clearance, a 28 foot minimum roadway width and a 128’ span over the Big Bureau Creek. GPS co-ordinates - N41 22.745 W89 29.871
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.
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.
Located on historic Route 66, this was originally a pharmacy built in the 1880’s. The soda fountain was added to the business in the 1950’s. Stop in for an old-fashioned treat or ice-cream. Doc’s is also open for lunch and dinner.
Completed in the Summer of 2006, these 10 murals depicting historic Jacksonville scenes and events were handpainted by more than 50 sign painters and graphic artists from as far away as Scotland and New Zealand.
EagleRider is the largest motorcycle rental and tour company in the world. Rent a Harley Davidson for a day or a week and experience the open road!
Whether you're interested in science or just fishing in the ponds near the buffalo herd you're welcome at Fermilab. Take a self-guided tour of the laboratory, the Art Gallery and science and educational displays. View the grounds from the 15th floor observation area. Visitors may also visit the Lederman Science Center. Performing arts and lectures. Groups welcome by appointment. Public tours are offered every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. and as part of the Ask-a-Scientist event on the first Sunday of each month.
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.
Fort Defiance, known as Camp Defiance during the American Civil War, is a former military fortification, located at the awesome confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The site offers visitors the chance to view the confluence from the old observation tower.
As the world's tallest fountain, the Gateway Geyser Fountain reaches 627 feet in height, and is centered in a pond that holds five million gallons of water.
CITY:East St. Louis
The Gemini Giant is a landmark statue on U.S. Route 66. The 30 foot tall statue is named after the Gemini space program and holds a silver "rocket ship" in his hands, while sporting an astronaut's space helmet that looks more like a welding mask.
The Grand Illinois Trail (GIT) is a 535-mile loop trail in northern Illinois. It goes from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi along the northern border of Illinois and then loops back across the state along the Illinois River and the Hennepin Canal. 200 miles of the route is on paved township and county roads while the rest is on limestone trails or paths. Hennepin Canal Communities - Annawan, Atkinson, Geneseo and Colona.
This scenic drive follows the flow of the mighty Mississippi River as it curves along the western edge of Illinois and meanders for more than 550 miles, traveling through charming small towns and offering beautiful river and woodland views along the way.
Explore the heart of America! Follow the Mississippi River as it winds its way along Illinois' western border from Galena to Cairo. Experience over 550 miles of small towns, big cities, historic sites, recreational areas, cultural attractions and museums. Follow the green and white paddle wheel signs as they guide your next adventure!
This quirky must-see Route 66 attraction, information center and souvenir gift shop is home to rabbits of all kinds, bunny and VW, as well as Mother Road memorabilia.
The National Road is called the "road that built the nation" because it was the first highway in American history. Today the National Road in Illinois covers 164 miles, from Marshall and the Wabash Valley to East St. Louis and the Mississippi River.
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.
Take a journey on the Illinois Lincoln Highway, a 179 mile National Scenic Byway. From the Indiana border, west toward the mighty MIssissippi, you will find an adventure filled with variety, rich in history and heritage. As you travel the Lincoln Highway route across northern Illinois, take time to discover each communities' unique culture and special offerings and find a past era woven together with the present.
The Illinois Lincoln Highway Coalition presents 16 Interpretive Gazebos along the Lincoln Highway, a 179-mile National Scenic Byway in Northern Illinois. The DeKalb gazebo offers a unique and interactive way for visitors to learn the significance of the highway in DeKalb while enjoying stories of the early Lincoln Highway and its other Illinois communities.
The Byway unites more than 100 nature-based destinations throughout the Illinois River Valley, beginning in Ottawa and ending 140 miles south in Havana. Find the best spots for hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, canoeing, wetlands, gardens, birding and watching wildlife.