Archive for  August 2011

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The Illinois Office of Tourism is proud to announce that Megan Murrell is the Grand Prizewinner of the Magnificent Getaways Giveaway Contest! Megan wins the Magnificence with a View Getaway — Chicago Package, which includes:

  • An exclusive gourmet dinner on the Ledge at Skydeck Chicago
  • Lake Executive King Accommodations at the Trump International Hotel & Tower® Chicago
  • Admission and VIP behind-the-scenes tours at the Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry
  • Fine dining at Terzo Piano, Lawry’s The Prime Rib and Fogo de Chão®
  • Tickets to The Second City, John Hancock Observatory, The Field Museum and Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co. Tours
  • A $500 Water Tower Place gift card

We offer our congratulations to Megan and now let’s relive her winning entry…

A Touch of Illinois

My husband and I were the first couple to renew wedding vows at the Skydeck in Willis (Sears) Tower. We did not have a wedding the first time we got married so having a ceremony in the sky was magical.

After 5 years of being on his finger, my husband's ring almost refused to get back on there!

We found a creative way to take a picture of us at the Planetarium without having to ask someone to take it.

No one is more scared of heights than I am but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity or view for my camera that a 150 foot Ferris Wheel can give.

This was a special experience because it was our first trip to White Castle. We don’t have them in Texas. It was right in our budget, but it would be nice to taste the best of Illinois.

Shawn surprised me and stopped at a park to use the camera timer to take pictures together with the famous city skyline. He knows I love pictures!

This is me at Harpo Studios. After having my children, I lost over 100 pounds through exercise and healthy eating. I was one of 15 people chosen to stand on stage with Oprah for her last weightloss show so we drove to Chicago on a tight budget.

Can you imagine how many thousands of people have walked under the Bean/Cloud Gate? We had to see it while we were in Chicago.

We’re the Texan couple meant to go back to Illinois! I am so blessed to have found Enjoy Illinois on Facebook for the opportunity of a lifetime. To imagine me and my husband surrounded by luxury with behind-the-scenes access is a dream. Our trip to Chicago made some magnificent memories, but we’d never be able to afford an ultimate getaway like this. I lost over 100 pounds and was invited be on Oprah’s last weight loss show, so we renewed our vows on the Skydeck while in Chicago and would love to go back to experience Illinois as a VIP.

The Illinois Office of Tourism is proud to announce that Julie Quinlan is the 1st Prizewinner in the Magnificent Getaways Giveaway Contest! Julie wins the History in the Making Getaway — Springfield Package, which includes:

  • Admission and a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the “Ghosts of the Library” theater at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
  • Dinner with the Lincolns at Maldaner’s Restaurant
  • VIP tour of the Old State Capitol, with costumed guides
  • Knight’s Action Park and Caribbean Water Adventure passes
  • Route 66 Drive-In tickets
  • Springfield Walking Tour tickets
  • Deluxe accommodations at the Hilton Springfield

We offer our congratulations to Julie and now let’s take a look at her entry…

Experiencing Illinois with my curious boy!

Willis--up close and personal!

My fearless boy just hanging out over the city.

We loved posing for the camera at the Bean.

What a fun way to cool off during our sizzling, hot summer!

Sean loved seeing this interesting eyeball in the middle of the city.

One of our favorite activities is just chilling out and watching the dolphins.

Learning about one of Springfield's finest!

Living in the western suburbs, we are incredibly fortunate to live so close to the best city in the world! My very curious 5 year old, Sean, couldn’t wait to visit Willis Tower, the Bean, the “Eyeball” and the Shedd last summer. This year, he studied Lincoln in preschool and was super excited to visit Springfield and the Lincoln Museum. This summer we plan to continue exploring our beautiful state! We would LOVE to win this fabulous prize and receive extra special “Illinois” treatment! They will be memories Sean would never forget.

The Illinois Office of Tourism is proud to announce that Casey Watkins is the 2nd Prizewinner in the Magnificent Getaways Giveaway Contest! Casey wins the Stay and Play Getaway — Lake County Package, which includes:

  • A deluxe stateroom at KeyLime Cove Resort
  • Tickets to Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor
  • A $200 Gurnee Mills gift card

We offer our congratulations to Casey and now let’s take a look at her entry…

Your trip around the world begins here

Your trip around the world begins here in the south of Chicago. Plan your trip at one of the world’s most extensive map collections. Regenstein Library can take you to the Osaka gardens, and the University of Chicago, which looks like Oxford on the Midway. Eat pizza at Medici. See Frank Lloyd Wright’s style that started here and went around the world, and visit where the world came for our fair. All right here in Chicago.

The annual Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Fall Festival is just around the corner, Sept. 3 & 4, and is promising to be even bigger and better than last year. Join all thirteen members of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail on Labor Day Weekend at the Down Town Park in Cobden IL for fine wines, a grape stomp, live music, local artisans and more.

This festival brings the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail’s finest wines to down town Cobden, IL.  saving you time and a tank, or two, of gas. Enjoy some of your favorite wines while enjoying live music:     

Saturday:  Blues Handle (St. Louis Blues)

Sunday:    The Kevin Lucas Orchestra (Progressive Rock)

A $15.00 admission includes a souvenir wine glass, 13 wine samples, entertainment and a $5.00 off coupon to use at any one of the winery tents. 

 Kick off the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Fall Festival with a unique tasting event celebrating the Vignoles wine grape.  ”Among the Stars” is an evening that showcases Vignoles products made within the Shawnee Hills American Viticultural Area, a federally designated region identified as a unique wine grape growing district in deep southern Illinois. Wines and spirits have been specially paired with locally-produced foods as appetizers to offer regional wine enthusiasts a new and in-depth appreciation of wine grapes grown in the Shawnee Hills area, all for a $30.00 ticket.

Make this a Labor Day Weekend to remember and celebrate Illinois Wine Month at the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Festival.



War Bluff Valley Sanctuary is a beautiful place. If you’ve never been there or if you only get out there once in a while, you ought to see what you’re missing.     War Bluff Valley Sanctuary is located in rural Pope County in southeastern Illinois. Adjoining the wilderness of the Shawnee National Forest, this nearly 500-acre sanctuary is home to a large variety of birds and mammals, as well as a great diversity of rare plants, including several species of native orchids. The purpose of the sanctuary is to protect the wildlife and habitat, and for research on populations and native species. War Bluff Valley Sanctuary is a place for birds and other creatures. It is also for people – people who respect and love wildlife and the land.

We enjoyed several miles of maintained trails, winding through the various habitats including upland and bottomland forest, shrub and regenerating forest, and open land.  Don’t miss Simmons Creek, a beautiful rock bottom clear creek that runs through the middle of the property, with its many tributaries encountered throughout. Other features include 7 ponds, historic homestead sites, and interesting geology. Visitors are welcome from dawn to dusk daily, with guided tours possible with advance notice. Trails range in difficulty from easy to moderately difficult. Appropriate all-terrain footwear is essential where ever you go. Other than out-house accommodations at three locations within the sanctuary, there are no amenities — you will want to bring your own food & water, and, pack out anything you take in.

 Come for a visit anytime or come to volunteer on Stewardship Day, the second Saturday of each month–bring work gloves, water & a sack lunch.  We start about 9:30am.   Call 618-683-2222 for more details.

Enjoy Southern Illinois!