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Festival Feature Image

Summer festival season is officially upon us! From carnivals and state fairs to music and food fests, Illinois knows how to celebrate sweet summertime. This week, we asked our Instagram followers to share photos of their favorite summer festivals across Illinois. Check out a few of our favorite shots from around the state 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 EnjoyIllinois.com.

7.18 Heart of Illinois Fair - (at) straublund

We started this week’s challenge with this thrilling photo of the Heart of Illinois Fair in Peoria. Thanks @straublund for the awesome shot!

+Glendale heights Summer Fest - (at) morsecodebecks

Our favorite part of a carnival is the carousel too! We love this shot of the Glendale Heights Summerfest by @morsecodebecks.

+Taste of Chicago - (at)psb_photos

We couldn’t miss a weekend of music, activities and Chicago’s best dining at the Taste of Chicago! Thanks for this cool photo @psb_photos.

+Vernon Hills Carnival - (at)chicagokiddieworld

So many rides! It’s a good thing the Vernon Hills Summer Celebration lasted all weekend so we could ride them all. (Photo by @chicagokiddieworld)

+NW IL Jazz Fest, Stockton - (at) stoned_art_studio

We can’t help but dance at the Northwest Illinois Jazz Fest in Stockton! Thanks @stoned_art_studio for the great photo.

+Heart of Illinois Fair 2- (at) svarttrost

This one isn’t for the faint of heart. Thanks for the exhilarating photo of the Heart of Illinois Fair @svarttrost!

+Young At Heart Festival (at)tyleryomantasphotography

What a ride! Thanks @tyleryomantasphotography for this awesome photo of the Young at Heart Festival in Loves Park.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Outdoor Concert Feature Image

Fresh air, amazing backdrops and even better music – many would argue that you’d be hard pressed to find a more perfect day than that. Lucky for you, Illinois offers some incredible outdoor music venues that make that image a reality. From waterfront stages to downtown pavilions, there is no shortage of places to take in the sounds of summer.

Head to the Peoria RiverFront and you’ll quickly notice that there is never a shortage of things to do. The Illinois River makes the perfect backdrop for events all year round, including festivals, foot races, markets and parties. But any resident will agree that the Peoria RiverFront Blues and Heritage Music Festival is the can’t-miss event of the summer season.

The Blues and Heritage Festival has been a staple end-of-summer event at Peoria’s beautiful Riverfront Park for 28 years. Festival goers get the chance to bask in the glow of the sun on the picturesque downtown riverfront while they enjoy a world-class line-up of artists from blues, roots, funk, soul and everything in between. In addition to live shows, the festival also offers “Blues Lessons” and a live “Road to Memphis” competition, which gives unsigned blues artists the chance to win a slot in the famous International Blues Challenge.

Peoria Riverfront- Blues and Heritage Festival from FB

The Peoria Riverfront Blues and Heritage Music Festival draws in big crowds for its two-day event.

If you’re looking for another waterfront venue, look no further than Riverfront Park in Alton, where you’ll find the Liberty Bank Alton Amphitheater. A local hot spot during the summer months, the Amphitheater is host to a variety of events from community festivals and fireworks shows to live concerts, making it a great destination for families and friends alike.

Liberty Bank Alton Ampitheater

There’s never a shortage of live music at the Alton Amphitheater.

This year’s schedule includes musical performances by Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels Band, Rodney Atkins and the return of the Alton Food Truck Festival, where you can try out local street fare while taking in live tunes. With the Mighty Mississippi River as a backdrop, you can bring your blanket and spread out for an evening under the stars that you will be dreaming about long past the summer months.

Set against the Chicago skyline, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is one of the top outdoor amphitheaters in the Windy City. Located right in Millennium Park, the Pavilion holds up to 11,000 people at a time and offers an incredible spot for visitors to take in shows each year. For such a large venue, there is not a bad seat in the house. Its state-of-the-art sound system, the first of its kind in the country, was designed to mimic the acoustics of an indoor concert hall, spreading audio equally through fixed seats and the lawn, to make sure that you never miss a note.

The Pritzker Pavilion is also host to the Millennium Park Summer Music Series, which is always one of the most popular events of the summer. The Summer Music Series offers a line-up of 18 free outdoor concerts every Monday and Thursday from June through the end of August, with performances covering a variety of different musical genres. The Pavilion also offers concessions by Goose Island Brewery, making it the perfect place to unwind after a long day.

Jay Pritzker Pavillion- Millennium Park Music Series

The Millennium Park Music Series is a popular summer bucket list item.

You don’t need green space to enjoy a concert in the great outdoors. Just ask the thousands of concert attendees at the new BOS Plaza in Springfield. Located just outside the Prairie Capital Convention Center, the Plaza is a beautiful stamped concrete space that allows visitors to take advantage of warmer weather months. The 8,300-square-foot plaza offers ample standing room as well as a catered VIP terrace to take in a show from an elevated view. Now in its second year, The Plaza has already brought in some popular big time performers, hosting a recent concert with rock legend Peter Frampton.

BOS Plaza- Springfield

The BOS Plaza is unlike any other music venue in the area.

For even more cool spots to take in music all year long, be sure to visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

– Illinois Office of Tourism

Feature Image

Route 66. It’s a road so mythical, you may wonder if it still exists. And yet, cutting through Illinois is a 300-mile stretch of Route 66 that even today captures the imaginations of travelers from around the world. The kitsch, the nostalgia, the people – it’s got all the makings of a road trip that’s just as much about the journey as the destination. The journey down the Mother Road is sure to be one that won’t disappoint.

Summer is the perfect time to pack your bags, roll down the windows and cruise along the legendary road. Below are the must-visit spots along Illinois Route 66 to get your summer road trip plans started.

First up, stop in to Lou Mitchell’s diner in Chicago to fuel up for the journey ahead. This classic American diner has been around for nearly 100 years, serving all the classics, plus freshly baked donut holes when you walk in the door.

Route 66 is known for its assortment of roadside attractions, and Illinois is home to plenty of them. Make sure to snap an Insta-worthy photo at the Gemini Giant statue in Wilmington. And while you’re there, head ten minutes down the road to the Polk-a-Dot Drive In for a burger, fries and chocolate shake.

Gemini Giant

The Gemini Giant in Wilmington

About 1.5 hours into the trip, you’ll come to a quaint town called Pontiac, one of the most famous Route 66 towns along the way. The nostalgia and charm of Route 66 is what this town is known for. Here you’ll find the Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum, a tour of hand painted murals around the town, and even the Pontiac-Oakland Auto Museum. This entire museum is dedicated to the Pontiac car.

“The Pontiac Museum has been a wonderful addition to the attractions found here in Pontiac. It’s the second most popular attraction and is slowly gaining on the Illinois Route 66 Museum,” said Ellie Alexander, director of Pontiac tourism. “Having the Pontiac-Oakland Museum here has led to dozens of car clubs coming to town, some of them multiple times.”

As you continue your journey, you’ll come to an even smaller town – Atlanta. This little town packs a big punch in Route 66 history. Make sure to grab a bite, or at least a slice of pie and coffee, at The Palms Grill Café. Head across the street and snap a selfie with the Paul Bunyon Hotdog statue, another Muffler man.

Paul Bunyon Hot Dog

The Paul Bunyon Hotdog Statue in Atlanta, next to The Palms Grill Café

Keep driving and you’ll come to Springfield, known as the home Abraham Lincoln. But did you know Springfield is also home to the Cozy Dog Drive In? This classic Route 66 diner is the originator of the corn dog, or “Cozy Dog.” Stop by for a true Route 66 experience. And just outside Springfield is a stretch of the original hand-laid brick road.

Doc’s Soda Fountain in Girard was originally a pharmacy built in the 1880’s, and the soda fountain was added to the business in the 1950’s. Stop in for an old-fashioned treat or ice-cream.

Doc's Soda Fountain

Doc’s Soda Fountain and drug store museum

The Ariston Café in Litchfield is one of the oldest along Route 66 and placed on National Registry of Historic Places. Stop in for a bite to eat and then head across the street to the Route 66 Welcome Center to see memorabilia and history from the Mother Road.

Ariston Cafe

The Ariston Café in Litchfield, across the street from the Route 66 Welcome Center

To end your Route 66 journey through Illinois, get a final photo at the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville.

Whether you follow our guide or choose your own adventure, a trip down Route 66 is one that you will be looking back on with a smile for years to come.

– Illinois Office of Tourism

 

FEATURE IMAGE

Happy Fourth of July Weekend! It’s never too early to start celebrating, so we asked our Instagram followers to share photos themed red, white and blue across Illinois. Check out a few of our favorite shots from around the state 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 EnjoyIllinois.com.

+Navy Pier Fireworks (at) mynameisxela

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than watching fireworks? That’s why we kicked off this week’s challenge with this awesome photo of Navy Pier’s grand firework show. Thanks to @mynameisxela for this great photo!

+ Macy's Chicago (at)Kait.radke

What a great way to showcase the American flag! Thanks for the great picture of Macy’s in Chicago @kait.radke.

+Bloomington (at) selzermusic

Best part of Fourth of July cookouts? Desserts! These cake balls look delicious! Thanks @selzermusic for sharing.

+Bourbonnais Friendship Fest (at) josh.lundmark

The Ferris wheel at Bourbonnais Friendship Fest is all ready to celebrate Independence Day! Thanks @josh.lundmark for this awesome photo!

+Fox River Queen, St. Charles (at)yoga.gal

What a great idea to spend the Fourth of July on the Fox River Queen in St. Charles! Thanks for sharing @yoga.gal.png.

+Galena (at)longhollowcanopytours

Zip lining at Long Hollow Canopy Tours with the American flag, how much more freedom can you get in one picture? Thanks for sharing @longhollowcanopytours!

+Lake Forest (at) elawafarm

Look at those festive sprinkles! Thanks @elawafarm for the great photo!

+Riverside Illinois (at) riversideillinois

How cool is this American Flag from 1976? Thanks for sharing with us @riversideillinois!

+Rt. 66 (at) sauk_it_to_me

Even Route 66’s Lauterbach Muffler Man can’t wait to celebrate the Fourth of July! Thanks for this great photo @sauk_it_to_me!

+Crystal Lake (at)  j_r_petry

Red, white and blue stands out anywhere! Thanks @j_r_petry for sharing this photo of St. Charles!

-Illinois Office of Tourism

FEATURE IMAGE

Summer is here, and that means soaking up the sunny weather and spending as much time outside as possible. Activities that are usually indoors head outside to help you take full advantage of the season. For all you movie buffs out there, we have found some of the top spots to catch a flick outdoors.

There are countless things to do in Galena each season, and this summer, star-gazing gets better. The Goldmoor Inn turns its beautifully landscaped estate and charming Pavilion into an alfresco cinema when it debuts “Classic Movie Nights Under The Stars.” Sitting on 21 acres overlooking the Mississippi River Valley, the luxury Inn will screen classic double features this summer. And just because you’re skipping the theater doesn’t mean you’re missing the snacks. Freshly made popcorn is part of the deal.

GoldmoorMoviePavilion_Credit JumpingRocksPhotography

The Goldmoor Inn in Galena (Photo credit: Jumping Rocks Photography)

“Our gardens and grounds are gorgeous, and the star-gazers will be doubly thrilled to catch classic celebrities on the silver screen beneath the incredible constellations shining above,” says Birgit Radin, co-owner of the Goldmoor Inn. “Guests and visitors wondering what to do in Galena are invited to add to their list an evening of outdoor movies surrounded by the tranquil nature surrounding us.”

The Classic Movie Nights begin at 7 p.m. on select Saturdays during June-October, and the movie schedule includes:

  • June 11: Citizen Kane and Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • July 23: Cool Hand Luke and Some Like it Hot
  • August 20 Casablanca and Roman Holiday
  • September 17 Metropolis and North by Northwest
  • October 29 Dressed to Kill and Frankenstein

Nothing is more American than spending a summer night under the stars watching a big Hollywood movie. So why not take a drive back in time and spend an evening at the McHenry Outdoor Theater? This unique classic cinema experience features all the nostalgia of a classic drive-in theater. You can watch 21st century blockbusters or enjoy favorites from the past. So pack the popcorn, bring a blanket and curl up under the stars for a unique viewing experience.

McHenry Outdoor Theater

The McHenry Outdoor Theater

Get double the nostalgia during a movie at the Route 66 Drive In in Springfield. This restored movie theater along historic Route 66 gives visitors the chance to see new and classic movies in a unique setting.

Route 66 Drive In sign_web

The sign at the Route 66 Drive in Springfield

In Chicago, the Millennium Park Summer Film Series takes place Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. during June-August. Grab a seat in the pavilion or bring a picnic to the Great Lawn and enjoy the free outdoor movies at Chicago’s architectural gem, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

The schedule:

  • June 21: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • June 28: Soul Food
  • July 5: A League of Their Own
  • July 12: Thelma & Louise
  • July 19: Full Moon Double Feature – Moonstruck & Silence of the Lambs (1991; R)
  • July 26: Kartemquin Films 50th Anniversary Celebration
  • August 2: West Side Story
  • August 9: Grease
  • August 16: Finding Nemo
  • August 23: Purple Rain
  • August 30: Audience Choice – Favorite Chicago Film
Millennium Park Summer Film Series

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago

Looking for more ways to spend your summer in Illinois? Visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

– Illinois Office of Tourism