Like you, Illinois has an adventurous side. You’ll find it in dozens of state parks, lush forests and even in the heart of Chicago. So whether you’re into hiking, biking or channeling your inner daredevil, you’ll find just the thing here for a little adventure in the great outdoors.
Find outdoor events that bring out the best of each season.
From eagle watching and balloon fests to triathlons and garden walks, you’ll find plenty of reasons throughout the year to venture outside and take in the scenery and fun of each season.
Paddle your way through a canyon of skyscrapers.
Wherever there are spectacular views and water, you’re bound to see kayaks. And Chicago is no exception. Here, you can paddle down the Chicago River while taking in top-to-bottom views of one of America’s best skylines. Head out at sunset for a tour capped off with fireworks at Navy Pier.DO THIS
Welcome to the Wild, Wild Midwest
Discover a place where wildlife still roams the Illinois prairie.
Bison, black bears, cougars—they all once made their home in Illinois, and still do at Wildlife Prairie State Park. Explore more than 2,000 acres of natural habitat by train, or hike winding trails that overlook prairie and wetlands dotted with 150 animals native to Illinois.GO HERE
Illinois State Parks
Explore outdoor playgrounds millions of years in the making.
Pere Marquette State Park
With over 8,000 sprawling acres, Pere Marquette is the largest state park in Illinois. Hike 12 miles of leafy trails. Bike scenic bluffs perched above the Illinois River. Or retreat to the stone-and-timber lodge after fall color drives and winter eagle-watching tours.Go Here
Giant City State Park
The thick woodlands in this southern Illinois park are great for hiking and horseback riding. Rock formations throughout the park include sheer sandstone cliffs—ideal for rock climbing. Cap off your day at the Giant City Lodge with a plate of their famous homemade fried chicken.Go Here
Garden of the Gods
The rock formations here are unlike anything in Illinois—or the Midwest, for that matter. With names like Camel Rock, Devil’s Smoke Stack and Monkey Rock, these natural wonders don’t just offer great views of the forest below, they also make for great photo ops.Go Here
Starved Rock State Park
With its seasonal waterfalls, soaring bluffs and rugged canyons, this outdoor paradise is absurdly beautiful. Settle into the park’s rustic lodge, then embark on a day of hiking, canoeing, cross-country skiing— or a relaxing paddleboat cruise.Go Here
Fly through a Forest
Who says nature trails have to be on the ground?
High above the hiking and biking trails here, you’ll find a growing number of ziplines. Now you can glide through—and above—lush forests at speeds reaching 45 mph during zipline tours that whisk you along the Mississippi River and deep inside the Shawnee National Forest.DO THIS
Mosey along wooded trails during guided horseback rides.
Nothing says outdoor adventure like a day of horseback riding. In Illinois, you’ll find stables dotted throughout the state, with trusty steeds and experienced guides ready to take you on scenic tours worlds away from the Illinois you thought you knew.DO THIS
Rails to Trails
Pedal down trails once bustling with locomotives.
Gone are many of the railroad tracks that once crisscrossed Illinois. Now they’re a network of bike trails, revealing scenic vistas once reserved for locomotives. The 45-mile Tunnel Hill State Trail takes you deep into the Shawnee National Forest, passing the occasional ghost town and restored train depot. Along the way, you’ll cross deep gorges on 23 trestles and pedal through the trail’s namesake: a 543-foot tunnel in the heart of a forest.DO THIS
See more ways to enjoy the great outdoors in Illinois.
Need more inspiration to get outdoors? Get seasonal ideas around Illinois that include everything from camping and fishing to sailing and skiing.