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Shedd Aquarium

National Heritage Areas in Illinois

Illinois' National Heritage Areas combine natural beauty and deep cultural and historical significance, giving you a unique glimpse into what makes our state special.

National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress to preserve and promote regions with exceptional historical and cultural relevance. Illinois is home to three, including the nation's first, and one of its most recent.

Discover the Bronzeville-Black Metropolis, I&M Canal, and Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Areas. They're must-visit destinations for history enthusiasts and casual explorers alike.

A weathered bronze statue of a World War I-era "doughboy" solider adop a granite plinth

Bronzeville–Black Metropolis National Heritage Area

The Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area celebrates the profound cultural and historical contributions of African Americans in Chicago, from the legacy of the Great Migration to the vibrant jazz and blues scenes that marked the area as Chicago's own Black Metropolis.

Woman holding food in front of brick wall
Two people on bikes in front of an outdoor market
A plaque on the ground at the Bronzeville Walk of Fame

Discover the soul of Chicago

Discover the soul of Chicago in the Bronzeville-Black Metropolis National Heritage Area, a landmark neighborhood that tells the vibrant story of African American life, culture, and history in the city.

Wander the Bronzeville Walk of Fame, a 10 block-long collection of bronze plaques honoring more than 100 local residents who made significant contributions to their community, city, and country. See how history and culture continues to be made today at local galleries, art exhibits, eateries, and stores.

A plaque on the ground at the Bronzeville Walk of Fame

Bronzeville Walk of Fame

Civil rights activist Ida B Wells, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and astronaut Robert H Lawrence, Jr, are among more than 100 neighborhood residents celebrated on the Bronzeville Walk of Fame.

Bronzeville Walk of Fame Bronzeville Walk of Fame
A guitar signed by Buddy Guy

Heritage on Chicago's Southside

Chicago’s south side boasts an incredible range of Black heritage sites. It embodies the past, present, and future of African-Americans. A history that has yielded inspiring stories, broken barriers and cultural achievements.

Black History on the South Side Black History on the South Side
Exterior of a big brick building

Bronzeville Children's Museum

First and only African American children's museum in the country, for children ages 3-9. Interactive exhibits, unique programs. Focus on culture, history and contributions of African Americans.

Bronzeville Children's Museum Bronzeville Children's Museum
A boat going down the river and a man walking a Mule down a path

Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Area

The I&M Canal Trail offers 61 miles of picturesque hiking and biking trails that follow the historic route of the I&M Canal from Channahon to LaSalle.

Man leading a donkey and a canal boat
The brick exterior of the Washington Park Historic District 3rd Appellate Court Building in ottawa
Family taking a selfie in front of a Mural in Ottawa
The exterior of a mansion

Go back in time on the I&M Canal

Go back in time on a trip along the I&M Canal, a 96-mile waterway passing through 60 communities between Chicago and LaSalle. 

The hand-dug canal was a vital trade and transport link in the 19th century. In 1984, it became America's first National Heritage Area. Today, it's a beautiful place for hiking, biking, and exploring the charming towns that lie along its length.

Along the way, visit restored historical sites and enjoy museums detailing the canal's pivotal role and legacy. You can even take a guided tour on a mule-pulled canal boat.

A woman walks a horse alongside the canal as the I&M canal boat passes

I&M Canal State Trail

The I&M Canal offers a scenic journey through Illinois history, along 61 miles of trails ideal for hiking and biking.

I & M Canal State Trail I & M Canal State Trail

Girlfriend Getaway Along the I&M Canal

Take a weekend trip through these five towns along the I&M Canal. Food, shopping, theater, and more.

Girlfriend Getaway along the I&M Canal Girlfriend Getaway along the I&M Canal
Boat on water with a bridge in the background

I&M Visitors Center and Canal Boat

Explore the canal on a mule-pulled canal boat ride with period-clothed storyteller, between May and October.

I&M Canal Boat and Lock 16 Visitors Center I&M Canal Boat and Lock 16 Visitors Center
An Abraham Lincoln actor thinking.

Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area

As the only heritage area named for an American President, the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage area is home to a unique collection of American history and let's visitors experience a deeper look inside the life and times of Abraham Lincoln.

The ALNHA highlights the 30 years of Lincoln's life in which he grew up, raised his family, and cultivated the courage and wisdom that would prepare him to lead the nation through some of its most trying times. 

A model of a boy
Woman play old styled music
Man standing outside of home

Follow in Lincoln's Footsteps

Abraham Lincoln's experiences in Illinois helped turn him into one of America's greatest leaders. Today, you can follow in his footsteps through the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, spanning 42 Central Illinois counties.

Explore historic sites like Lincoln's Springfield home, the Old State Capitol, and Lincoln's New Salem. Visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and pay your respects at the Lincoln Tomb. 

A mother and children walking towards Lincoln's house at the Lincoln Home Historic Site in Springfield

Abraham Lincoln Historic Sites in Illinois

Discover some of the most important Lincoln sites in Illinois.

Lincoln Historic Sites Lincoln Historic Sites
Statue of Abraham Lincoln and his family in front of the White House

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

More than 40,000 square feet of Lincoln history.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
Lincoln in front of large building

The Life of Abraham Lincoln in Illinois

Follow Abraham Lincoln's life through Illinois.

The Life of Abraham Lincoln in Illinois The Life of Abraham Lincoln in Illinois

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