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Shedd Aquarium

Everyone comes to Illinois to visit Chicago, and no wonder, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But stay a little longer and explore all the incredible outdoor activities Illinois has to offer. Meander through the historic river towns in the north-west to the national forests of the south, enjoying a wealth of activities and attractions along the way. Browse outdoor activities in Illinois below.

Two people in a canoe on a river

Real People. Real Stories. Real Outdoors.

Video Series

Pack your hiking boots, and discover the real people, real stories and the real outdoors of Illinois.

A waterfall with a waterhole below, Matthiessen State Park, Oglesby
Sunset at the garden of the gods
Group Walking at Starved Rock

State Parks & Our National Forest

Green Spaces

With 64 state parks and a lush national forest, Illinois is an outdoors dream. Explore hiking and biking trails, kayak along the rivers, or stay in a secluded forest cabin.

Sunset shining over water and a road beside the river
Car stopped on Route 66
Two people climbing up big rocks in Shawnee National Forest

Illinois' Seven Scenic Byways

Hit the Road

Enjoy picturesque views, outdoor adventures and so much more along Illinois' seven scenic byways. From state parks and limestone bluffs to tranquil rivers and small town charm, each route promises an adventure filled with fun.

Man standing on top of a rock at Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Hike through dramatic rock formations, perched atop large rolling hills with spectacular views of the forest. These natural wonders offer unmatched photo ops. This Midwest treasure is absolutely one of a kind.

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Two bikers with view of Pere Marquette State Park at sunset

Pere Marquette State Park

Situated on the Mississippi River, the largest state park in Illinois offers a variety of experiences for your southern Illinois adventure. Hike miles of trails, cycle along river bluffs, go fishing or horseback ride through the forest.

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A man stands between two rockfaces

Starved Rock State Park

Only 1.5 hours from Chicago you'll find hiking trails through towering trees, scenic overlooks and beautiful rock formations. You can also canoe, paddle-boat or cross-country ski during the snowy months.

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A woman on a zipline in Shawnee National Forest

Ziplining in Shawnee National Forest

A Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour is an adrenaline-filled adventure high up into the forest canopy with ziplines zigging and zagging through bluffs and valleys. There's no better way to experience the Midwest's best national forest.

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Buffalo's graze at sunset in Wildlife Prairie Park

Wildlife Prairie Park

Bison, black bears, cougars—they all once made their home in Illinois, and still do at Wildlife Prairie State Park near Hanna City. Explore 2,000+ acres by train, or hike winding trails that overlook natural habits dotted with 100+ animal species.

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The Morton Arboretum

Enjoy 1,700 acres of beautiful tree-filled landscapes that are perfect for exploring in any season. The Arboretum is also a vibrant hub for nature education, and a world-renowned center for scientific research.

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Plan Your Outdoor Adventure

Find unexpected ways to enjoy Illinois in this biannual inspiration guide that explores every corner of the state. Each issue offers a mix of travel stories, stunning photography and timely trip ideas that'll help you make the most of each season.

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Get inspired by top travel stories, gain access to exclusive promotions and contests, and discover even more reasons to #EnjoyIllinois.