Whether you want to plan around an exciting event, make stops in multiple towns, or immerse yourself in cultural institutions, we have ideas worth considering as soon as this weekend:
You have to see it to believe it — a place where you can tackle a challenging obstacle course, compete in a round of a laser tag, enjoy some scenic kayaking, then cap it all off with some waterfront dining under the stars.
We’re talking about The Forge: Lemont Quarries, a one-of-a-kind adventure park about 20 miles southwest of Chicago in suburban Lemont. Its highlights include:
For those looking to catch a show, this Central Illinois destination provides ample opportunities at its numerous theaters, including the Bloomington Center for the Performance Arts, the Community Players Theatre and the Historic Normal Theater.
It’s also a hub for agrotourism — you can see first-hand how Epiphany Farms perfects its root-to-table journey with a tour of the farm, followed by dinner at one of its restaurants. Ropp Jersey Cheese Farm, which is owned and operated by sixth-generation McLean County dairy farmers, offers facility tours as well.
You catch live performances of the Shakespearean classics Much Ado About Nothing (running from July 1 to August 8) and King Lear (running from July 8 to August 4) as part of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival at the historic outdoor Ewing Theatre. Catch a free family-friendly production from the Theatre for Young Audiences on the lawn at the Ewing Cultural Center every Thursday and Saturday from July 2 to August 6 as well.
Summertime finds Lake Michigan in all its glory. The sprawling lakefront trail meanders 17 miles along the shoreline, offering breathtaking views and hidden hideaways for a stroll or a picnic. Sandwiched between downtown skyscrapers and the lake, the museum campus houses the famous Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium and Field Museum.
Nestled deep within the Shawnee National Forest, this vast wilderness area is an oasis within an oasis. Known for its exhilarating whitewater, the canyon includes 100-foot cliffs, rugged forest, and thrilling rapids to challenge even advanced rafters.
Visiting historic sites in Springfield during the summer may be the closest you can get to replicating the experience of interacting with the nation’s 16th President — thanks to History Comes Alive. Now through August 7, you can see Abraham and Mary Lincoln go about their daily lives, hear him deliver his most famous speeches, or watch the famous couple visit with friends. New this year, you can also explore the capital city through Walk, Hike and Bike History tours.
There’s no better time of year to find your inner superhero than visiting Superman’s hometown of Metropolis where fans can visit Superman Square and take your picture taken with the 15-foot-tall statue of the Man of Steel. A statue of Lois Lane is located nearby, plus across the street is the Super Museum, showcasing rare Superman memorabilia and selling superhero souvenirs.
At nearly 3,000 acres, Lake Decatur is Illinois’ largest man-made body of water and an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. From the water, you can sail, jet ski, kayak, canoe and fish; from shore, you can dine outside, partake in a round of mini golf, or stroll through scenic public gardens.
For those whose travel itch is not yet satisfied, here are a few more ideas to incorporate into your summer trip planning:
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