Archive for  April 2014

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Did you know you can see Illinois’ rolling hills from high in the sky in a hot air balloon? That’s right! Galena is one of Illinois’ prime hot air balloon destinations. Galena On The Fly, one of the premiere hot air balloon tour companies in the area, has colorful balloons that take riders up approximately 3,000 feet above ground. Galena On The Fly boasts one of the largest hot air balloons in the country, which holds up to 14 people at once. Balloon rides allow visitors to catch stunning views of Galena and the beautiful hillsides of Jo Daviess County.

Galena On The Fly, Inc. provides memorable experiences with its balloon rides

Galena On The Fly, Inc. provides memorable experiences with its balloon rides

Galena On The Fly operates from mid-April through the end of November, but also offers special group flight accommodations year-round. It’s perfect for planning a fun adventure with friends. One hour flights are available at both sunrise and sunset.

In addition to chartered balloon rides, Galena also hosts an annual “Great Galena Balloon Race.” It’s a three-day event that includes more than 20 vibrantly-colored balloons lighting up the sky, along with music and family activities. This year’s race will take place June 20-22.

Balloons glow in the nighttime at the Great Galena Balloon Race

Balloons glow in the nighttime at the Great Galena Balloon Race

After flying high, be sure to check out more of Galena. Hop aboard an old-fashioned trolley for a Galena Trolley Tour  to explore the European-style Main Street and head over to the The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design to see a complete collection of contemporary art, architecture and photography from around the world.

-The Illinois Office of Tourism

Music-Tours-Feature

From blues legend Buddy Guy, to soul singer Sam Cooke and the rock stars of Fall Out Boy, Chicago is where a variety of music legends have called home. Chicago Music Tours help you learn about the city’s great musical artists through a variety of tours segmented by genre, like the “Chicago Rocks” tour and the “Raised in Chicago” jazz tour.

The “Chicago Rocks” tour is an interactive mini-pub crawl that takes tour-goers through the sites, sounds and stories of Chicago rock and roll from 1980 to the present. From Ministry & Big Black to alternative-rock icons, the Smashing Pumpkins, the “Chicago Rocks” tour lets you listen in on all the rock history Chicago has to offer.

Guides take riders through a tour of Chicago’s rich music history

Guides take riders through a tour of Chicago’s rich music history

Another unique option is the “Raised in Chicago” jazz tour, which explores the homes, clubs, and dance halls of Chicago jazz all the way back from the mid-20th Century. Beginning downtown at Bar Louie, the tour continues through Chicago’s famous Bronzeville neighborhood all the way to its North Side Uptown area.

Crowds gather throughout the week to hear the sweet sounds of blues at Buddy Guy’s Legends (Photo Credit: Sally Howard)

Crowds gather throughout the week to hear the sweet sounds of blues at Buddy Guy’s Legends (Photo Credit: Sally Howard)

If you are in the mood for more tunes after the tour, visit Buddy Guy’s Legends for some live blues music, seven nights a week and grab a bite to eat. Or, see what productions Broadway in Chicago has to offer to enjoy both theater and music.

-The Illinois Office of Tourism

You don’t have to travel to the west coast to enjoy award-winning wine and explore beautiful vineyards. Savor all of it right here in Illinois! At StarView Vineyards, located along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail in Southern Illinois, you can enjoy the scenery of rolling hills and imbibe delicious, estate grown wine.

StarView is one of the premier destinations in the Trails to Adventure region of the state, a federally designated wine-grape producing region. The winery produces more than a dozen wines and has a café, complete with fresh, homemade food that pairs well with wine.

StarView Vineyards is one of 12 wineries along Illinois’ Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.

StarView Vineyards is one of 12 wineries along Illinois’ Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.

StarView is family owned and operated by Brett and Regina Morrison, and Ron and Susan Dalius. Brett has been in the wine industry for more than 15 years and making wine for eight years. The team works together to add a personal touch to every bottle.

StarView carries a variety of wines, an option for every type of wine lover

StarView carries a variety of wines, an option for every type of wine lover

Once you’ve wined and dined, visit the Shawnee National Forest for a different kind of outdoor quest. It’s a great place for outdoor recreation, with activities like hiking, horseback riding, and camping, among others. Or, if you’re in the mood for a complete wine adventure, look for the Illinois Wine Country trip starter on the Enjoy Illinois website. The Trip Starter is a great guide to help you plan!

-The Illinois Office of Tourism

Few sites are as breathtaking as springtime in Illinois. A great way to enjoy the season is through one of the state’s many nature walks. Here are some of our favorites around Illinois:

Chicago Botanic Gardens is a 385-acre nature haven with 26 beautiful gardens that burst with 2.4 million plants. The attraction, called one of the world’s great living museums and conservation science centers, offers programs, classes and opportunities to tour the grounds year-round. 

A colorful array of plants and flowers adorn the pathway at Chicago Botanic Gardens

A colorful array of plants and flowers adorn the pathway at Chicago Botanic Gardens

Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford is one of the top two authentic formal Japanese gardens outside of Japan. It offers peace and tranquility to visitors through its exotic plants and calming waterfalls. Anderson has both guided and self-guided tours available.

Waterfall view of Illinois’ own authentic Japanese Garden in Rockford

Waterfall view of Illinois’ own authentic Japanese Garden in Rockford

Cantigny Park, located in Wheaton, is a place where you can enjoy the beauty of nature while learning a little about the history of Illinois. It is home to both the historical Robert McCormick Mansion Museum and the First Division Military Museum. In total, there are 500 acres of beauty at Cantigny Park, including the museums and award-winning gardens, a 27-hole golf course and four restaurants.

Side view of the Formal Gardens area of Cantigny Park

Side view of the Formal Gardens area of Cantigny Park

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle is a 1,700-acre outdoor museum that holds more than 222,000 live plants, representing nearly 4,300 plant species.  The Arboretum is open year-round, and offers visitors a variety of unique exhibits and classes that are both fun and educational.

Lovely flowers in bloom cover the grounds at the Morton Arboretum in the springtime.

Lovely flowers in bloom cover the grounds at the Morton Arboretum in the springtime.

Linmar Gardens, in the historic town of Galena, is a hidden treasure full of vibrant annual flowers. The garden rests hillside, offering a view that overlooks the town. At 3.5 acres, Linmar Gardens has a number of flowers on display, including viburnums, conifers, grasses, and daylilies.

Linmar Gardens in Galena is one of its best kept secrets, a treasure of nature.

Linmar Gardens in Galena is one of its best kept secrets, a treasure of nature.

For more information on Illinois’ nature walks, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-The Illinois Office of Tourism