Category Archives: Adventure/Outdoor Illinois

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Everyone needs a little “spook” in their lives and October is the perfect time to fill that void. Here in Illinois we pride ourselves on the rich, yet eerie, history that lurks throughout the state. This year we’ve put together a list of some of the must-experience, creepy destinations around. From Alton to Polo, Illinois has something spooky to offer for every member of the family.

Haunted Decatur Ghost Tour


A haunted stop on the tour. Scared yet? Photo courtesy of @Troy_A_Taylor

Decatur, Illinois is known to be one of America’s most haunted towns and Troy Taylor’s Haunted Decatur is the best way to get the full frightening you seek. These tours are not just a collection of ghost stories, but a true history of how the city became so haunted, including local sites of unsolved murders, strange crimes, gambling parlors and vice districts. Whether you decide to take in a haunted tour by foot or bus, you’ll be sure to get a firsthand look at the city’s vast haunted history.

McPike Mansion Haunted Tours


Visitors take a tour of the famously haunted mansion.

The McPike Mansion in Alton hasn’t been occupied since the 1950’s and yet curious events continue to stir on the premises. Unexplained balls of light and shadows of those unseen have made their way into many a photographer’s photos, making it a popular destination for paranormal enthusiasts from around the world. Tours run weekend evenings throughout the month of October, where you can explore the mansion and its grounds for the chance to experience a moment with the spirit of Henry Guest McPike and his family for yourself.

Torment at Twelve Hundred


Relax, they’re just actors. We think…

The Torment at Twelve Hundred team takes their work of scaring the pants off you very seriously, which is probably why they were named one of the top 10 haunts in Illinois by USA Today. Each year, Torment presents a new chapter in its ongoing twisted horror story, sending you on a walking path through dark winding tunnels, outdoor wooded trails, highly detailed mills, hospitals and more.  Located 14 miles southeast of the Quad Cities, tours run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night through Halloween, for those who dare to attend.

Horror Film Series at the Egyptian Theatre


Country Corner warns visitors. Photo courtesy of @susurrafonseca

Country Corner invites one and all to join them for nighttime fun filled with a flashlight maze, zombie paintball and bonfires with dates throughout October. The flashlight maze makes for great “no scare fun” for younger Halloween fans or those who want to get festive without the fear of darkness.

Below are even more eerie events to check out this season:

For more information about where to get scared silly this Halloween season, visit the Illinois Trail of Terror site, here.

-Illinois Office of Tourism


Autumn in the Midwest is a spectacular sight to behold and even better to experience up close. The plethora of pumpkin patches scattered across the state of Illinois gives residents and visitors alike an opportunity to really enjoy the season to its fullest. This week we asked you to show us your best pumpkin patch shots and you delivered! Check out a few of our favorite captures below. Be sure to follow us on Instagram for upcoming weekly challenges. Share your best photos with us by tagging #EnjoyIllinois and your photo could be featured!

For more unique Illinois destinations, events and attractions check out


This looks like a shot straight out of an old book of fairy tales about pumpkins. Thanks for this amazing close up at Kroll’s Farm, @zophack.


So many pumpkins, we lost track trying to count! Photo captured at Bengston’s by @jchirempes.


Tiny pumpkins are often overlooked so we have to thank @lakes77 for spotting the rich colors and beauty of these smaller gourds at Bengston’s Pumpkin Farm.


Some fly the W, others paint their pumpkins in support. We like both – go Cubs! Thanks to @chicagobotanic for the photo.


Goebbert’s Pumpkin Farm knows how to greet folks in search of the perfect pumpkin. Cool shot from @msoma97.


Gourds galore! Thanks for the photo @a_touch_of_b. Green City Market – (at) a_touch_of_b.png


Instagramer @thechispy couldn’t pass up the chance to get a shot of these pretty pumpkins and we don’t blame her!


Not one of these gourds is the same and we can thank nature for that. Great shot @mabblytribe!


Come for the art, leave with a pumpkin, that’s our motto. Thanks for the cool photo in front of the Alexander Calder ‘Flamingo’ statue in Chicago’s Federal Plaza @ll_cool_j2!


Pumpkin spiced lattes, sweaters and apple cinnamon anything: it’s officially fall! This week we challenged our followers to share the fall activity they are most looking forward to seeing and doing. Check out a few of our favorite captures below and be sure to follow us on Instagram for upcoming weekly challenges. Share your best photos with us by tagging #EnjoyIllinois and your photo could be featured!

For more unique Illinois destinations, events and attractions check out


“An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” We started our fall activities challenge with this photo by @cedric_dupree at Jonamac Orchard.


@nwmyers was literally “leaf peeping!” Great fall foliage photo captured at the Chicago Botanic Garden.


Fall is the time to take the back roads and embrace nature. Thanks to @stufotog for sharing this one near Lily Lake.


We love this Halloween decoration in Lincoln Park! Thanks to @ryanzieman for sharing this with us!


Doesn’t get much cuter than a corgi wrapped in a fall scarf… Thanks for the adorable pic, @ramboma!


Those are going to make a great apple pie… yum! Photo by: @ehildi


Trees minus the leaves, but still an amazing sunset! Great photo,@justinwardimages.


Follow the yellow-leafed road! Neat angled shot, @starrynightbug.


What a spooky sky for some pumpkin picking! Thanks for the picture, @christyspur_10!


Fall doesn’t mean we won’t get beautiful rainbows! Thanks for catching this one, @sambernero.

-Illinois Office of Tourism


Fall is upon us, and that means it’s time to say goodbye to the greens, and hello to the reds, oranges, yellows and browns! The season-change brings beautiful color to many areas in Illinois, and we’ve got the hook up on the best leaf-peeping destinations and drives. Get ready to witness nature near the city and outbound.

State Parks, Botanic Gardens and a Museum of Trees?

Whether you’re looking for a guided tour or want to wander on your own, these four destinations offer great views of the changing leaves.

Starting in Lisle, the Morton Arboretum has more than 222,000 live plants and was founded on the idea that it would serve as a “great outdoor museum” of trees. This October, the arboretum will host a Fall Color Festival throughout the month with a variety of activities for all members of the family, including sipping on ciders amongst the changing leaves, and for the kids, touring the grounds in Halloween costumes!


Photo by Instagram user @ncartwright21

Up next is the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. With more than 2 million plants across 385 acres of land, you’re sure to see the full spectrum of fiery autumn colors. The Chicago Botanic Garden hosts fall-color tree walks in the first two weeks October, but something to look forward to in late October (from the 20-23) is its newest attraction, Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns, where 1,000 hand-carved pumpkins will light up the nights in the Botanic Garden!botanic-gardens

A little further south of the city – about 90 minutes driving – is Starved Rock State Park. In the fall, this park is an excellent place for a leisurely stroll or an invigorating hike to see the panoramic views and leaves changing from the top of Starved Rock itself. The park also has an event called the Fall Colors Tour, which includes a trolley ride, lunch and a guided scenic walk to ensure you get the inside scoop on the best of the fall foliage.


Finally, head to the Shawnee National Forest for some prime leaf-peeping. More specifically, the Garden of the Gods Wilderness area shows off amazingly colorful views and even ripe fall fruit like persimmons. With all the beautiful color and unique scenery, this is the ideal place to take great fall photos and capture another magnificent transition of season.


Photo by Instagram user @vermilliondesign

Takin’ the long way: Scenic Drives

Ease on down the road(s) of Illinois to witness some spectacular fall foliage from your car window! Take in the entire western edge of the state with “neature” views along the Great River Road. This path follows the Mississippi River on one side and forests on the other, which makes for some spectacular sights. Not only can you see these beautiful colors, but make sure to meander through the quaint, small towns along the way to experience their fall festivals.


Photo by @visitalton

For a shorter trip, head to Peoria Heights to cruise Grandview Drive, just 2.5 miles long. The “world’s most beautiful drive,” according to President Theodore Roosevelt, is lined with trees which will make for a stunning multicolor view.



Photo by Instagram user @svarttrost

Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive, located between Galesburg and Peoria, is the best to visit during the first two weekends of October when the area’s Fall Festival is in full swing. This year’s festival marks the 49th annual celebration, filled with food, art, entertainment and attractions across the county for all ages to enjoy.


For more ideas on where to view fall foliage throughout Illinois, visit

-Illinois Office of Tourism


It’s amazing the view you get to enjoy when you’re at a high vantage point. Whether you’re standing in the window of a Chicago skyscraper or on top of a cliff with a view of an entire forest, Illinois provides incredible views. This week we ask you to capture your view from a high vantage point, check out a few of our favorite captures below. Be sure to follow us on Instagram for upcoming weekly challenges. Share your best photos with us by tagging #EnjoyIllinois and your photo could be featured!

For more unique Illinois destinations, events and attractions check out


This week we kicked off the challenge with a shot from the top of the Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier from @dmarieolsen.


Mississippi Palisades State Park in Savanna offers the peace of mind that we always count on nature to provide. This serene photo was taken by @zophack.


Helicopter tours of Chicago are for the adventurer in all of us. This photo defines what it means to have a “high vantage point.” Great shot captured by @thecraighensel.


Only a high vantage point can provide the view of the mist from a rainy day over Millennium Park. Thanks @macknielson for such a great photo!


All of the lights courtesy of @jayeffex.


Can we all just sigh in jealousy of @gkluvschi’s South Loop view in Chicago?


When your view gives you a front row seat to the storm that’s brewing, you take a photo. Awesome capture @e4rlyr1ser!


Nature’s brilliance from above. Visit Starved Rock State Park to see for yourself. Thanks for capturing @minaxivishnu!


Thanks @natelongg, from those of us who may not have the moxie to dangle our feet from great heights to get the photo.

-Illinois Office of Tourism