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Shedd Aquarium
Aerial view of Chicago

Northern Illinois

Chicago & Beyond

Northern Illinois is home to Chicago, one of the world's great cities...

Chicago & Northern Illinois

... but the adventure and excitement in Northern Illinois continues beyond the city limits. Get your taste of Chicago in our comprehensive guide, and read on for everything else you'll find in Northern Illinois.

Enjoy wine tasting in picturesque vineyards, before exploring stunning state park canyons and waterfalls. Relax on the beaches of Lake Michigan, and get warm welcomes from charming small towns. Culture and history await, too, along with family fun and adventure. There's no shortage of excitement in Northern Illinois.

Northern Illinois Towns & Cities

There are plenty of great towns and cities to explore in Northern Illinois! Rockford offers lush parks and a vibrant arts scene. Starved Rock, near Utica, features stunning waterfalls, canyons, and bluffs, with  hiking trails aplenty. Gurnee provides family-friendly entertainment and adventure with theme parks, water parks, and shopping. Elgin has a winning historic charm, alongside great shopping, dining, and cultural activities.

Exterior of the Woodstock Opera House in Woodstock

Other Northern Illinois towns

There's more to explore! Crystal Lake is known for its beaches and outdoor recreation areas. In DeKalb, you can tour a historic mansion or enjoy Shabbona Lake State Recreation Area. Evanston sits right on Lake Michigan and is home to Northwestern University. Woodstock's quaint town square and historic opera house are right out of a movie. In Naperville, enjoy the riverwalk, or step back in time at the Naper Settlement. Explore Winthrop Harbor's marina on Lake Michigan, or the Fox River from McHenry.

Looking for Galena?

It's in Northern Illinois, but we cover that over in neighboring Great Rivers Country! Explore our guide to Galena, and while you're there, learn what else you can explore along the rivers and roads of western Illinois.

Northern Illinois Road Trips

Northern Illinois is a wonderful place to explore by car! Follow one of our Northern Illinois road trip itineraries to plan your perfect vacation or long weekend. Whether you're uncovering historic towns, enjoying local wines, exploring natural beauty, or having fun with the family, each itinerary will give you experiences to remember.

Explore the outdoors on a drive along Fox River or the Lake Michigan coast, experience culture and adventure along the Heritage Corridor, discover breathtaking scenery at state parks, and enjoy friendly welcomes from our Northern Illinois communities. Let's drive!

Illinois Made: Northern Illinois' Best Local Products

In the towns and communities of Northern Illinois, people are brewing, baking, distilling, and making some amazing things. Be sure to stop by on your visit!

The exterior of the building covered in orange leaves during the fall

Northern Illinois Wineries

Northern Illinois is famed for its wineries. The climate and soils produce unique, delicious wines, from a range of beautiful wineries. They range from family-owned estates, to newer boutique vineyards.

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