Stay Longer in Illinois
The Magnificent Mile is one of the most famous avenues in the world – and for good reason. Between the historic landmarks, hundreds of shops and luxury retailers, and plenty of bars and restaurants filled with friendly vibes, there’s no shortage of things to do. Luckily, that’s just a glimpse of the unrivaled architecture, shopping, and culture to be found in and around Chicago. While you're here, step beyond the sidewalks of Michigan Avenue to experience more of Illinois.
Your journey starts on either direction of Michigan Avenue. To the south, across the Chicago River, Michigan Avenue passes Millennium Park — a 24-acre oasis filled with public art and prairie plantings — and must-see museums such as the Art Institute. To the north, the Mag Mile ends where it meets the shore of dazzling Lake Michigan, whose popular lakefront trail leads to sights such as Oak Street Beach and Lincoln Park Zoo.
Looking out at Lake Michigan, you can't help but admire the 200-foot-tall Centennial Wheel of Navy Pier, a civic landmark bustling with entertainment, food, and cultural attractions for the whole family. From the top of the wheel, one can see the bustling streets of Chicago that lead into a variety of eclectic neighborhoods, any of which could take an entire day to fully explore.
Chicago has many magnificent miles, but each street is just the beginning of another getaway. Beyond the city lies untold adventures, quirky places to stay, and historic scenic byways begging to be explored. Are you up for amazing?
With acres of lush forests, miles of hiking and biking trails, and several mighty rivers, Illinois is a natural playground — the perfect setting for a variety of outdoor adventures. At Starved Rock State Park, explore waterfalls and steep sandstone canyons formed by glaciers, with spectacular views of the Illinois River and wildlife such as bald eagles. Make it a full getaway by staying in a rustic lodge with a veranda that looks out over the park. The views are just as good in Southern Illinois, where the Garden of the Gods overlooks Shawnee National Forest, home to 403 miles of hiking trails as well as 11 award-winning wineries that make up the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. Either way, it's a trail worth taking.
Illinois is a state rich in history. In the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, you can follow in the footsteps of the 16th President, whose roots began right here in Illinois. Other Presidential history sites include Ronald Reagan's boyhood home in Dixon and Ulysses S. Grant's home in Galena, but the tide of Illinois history stretches back even further. Sites such as the historic Mormon town of Nauvoo detail life in the early 19th century, and in Southern Illinois, UNESCO World Heritage Site Cahokia Mounds displays the remains of a prehistoric city that stood from 800 to 1400 A.D.
At the corner of Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard in Chicago, just south of the Magnificent Mile, a street sign marks the beginning of the historic Route 66, a.k.a. the Mother Road. For more than 300 miles, the mythical highway cuts a nostalgic path through Illinois, passing through small towns and the capital of Springfield on its way south. Meanwhile, other scenic drives in Illinois take you through Illinois' landscapes, especially the Great River Road which offers unparalleled views of the mighty Mississippi River.
No doubt you've seen — and smelled — the storefront of Garrett Popcorn Shops at the corner of Michigan and Ontario. Treasured for its handmade mixes of fresh, gourmet popcorn, Garrett is just one of the state's Illinois Made makers – the creators, artisans and craftspeople who make Illinois thrive. Elsewhere in Chicago, Optimo Hats creates custom hats worn by Optimo fans around the globe, and restaurants such as Cafe Tola highlight the city's amazing diversity.
Throughout Illinois, the artisans of Illinois Made show off the character of local communities. Craft breweries and distilleries such as Tangled Roots Brewing Company in Ottawa or Whiskey Acres in DeKalb craft fresh beer and spirits using Illinois grains. Artisans such as MainFraiM in Rockford and Buena Vista Art in Grafton turn shopping into an intimate experience, stocking works of art that you can only find where the artists themselves live and work. That's the essence of Illinois Made.