With more than 70 buildings topping 500 feet, Chicago is a hotbed of skyscrapers and midcentury modern architecture. Stand above it all inside a glass-enclosed Ledge at Skydeck Chicago in the Willis Tower (the tallest building in the world when it opened in 1973).
The Chicago-style pie was born in 1943, when The Pizzeria downtown “inverted” the toppings (sauce on top) in a deep-dish pan. Today, you’ll find dozens of variations at places like Giordano’s, Lou Malnati’s, Pizzeria Uno and Gino’s East.
The art of improvisation may not have been born at The Second City, but the Chicago comedy club (opened in 1959) helped make it an A-list event. Famous alums include Tina Fey,
John Belushi and Bill Murray.
The Mother Road symbolically begins at Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain and continues for 300 miles southwest through the state. Meet fellow road trippers at the Joliet Area Historical Museum’s Route 66 Welcome Center.
World’s Columbian Exposition
Also known as the World’s Fair, Chicago’s 1893 spectacle featured the debut of the Ferris wheel and Juicy Fruit gum. Daniel Burnham, lead architect of the event, drafted blueprints in The Rookery, which he also designed. Visit the building’s skylighted lobby, redesigned by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1905.
Lewis and Clark
William Clark and his men spent the winter of 1803 at Camp River Dubois before beginning their voyage of discovery. See a replica of the expedition’s keelboat at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center near Hartford (7 miles southeast of Alton).
Launched in 1904, Highland Park’s Ravinia Festival is the oldest outdoor music festival in North America. The 2017 lineup includes John Mellencamp, Stevie Nicks and Smokey Robinson.
Illinois and Michigan Canal
Built in the mid-1800s, the canal connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi by way of the Illinois River. Take an I&M Canal mule-pulled boat ride to relive
the 19th-century journey.
John Deere’s 1837 invention of the plow has exploded into a global ag industry. Interact with the signature machinery at the John Deere Pavilion.
Four U.S. presidents were either born in Illinois or spent a significant portion of their lives here: Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Take a journey through Lincoln’s early life and presidency at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.