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The first day of fall is days away, and that means changing leaves, savory fall flavors and, of course, sweater weather. So grab your PSLs (that’s short for Pumpkin Spice Lattes) because this week we’re gearing up for fall with a preview of the top autumn activities in Illinois so you can make the most of the season.

Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes and Apple Picking, Oh My!

It’s the time of year we’ve all been waiting for: Fall. The air is crisp, the skies are blue and there are endless corn mazes, pumpkin patches, apple orchards and fall activities for everyone to enjoy. But with so many options, where do you start? Fortunately, many of the fall farms in Illinois offer a combination of pick-your-own apples and pumpkins, corn mazes, hay rides, petting zoos and much more.

Take Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, for example. Known for having the World’s Largest Corn Maze, this year’s corn maze theme celebrates the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. If twisting and turning through 10 miles of maze isn’t enough, how about climbing the observation tower, bouncing around on giant jumping pillows, cheering on a pig race, or soaring through the air on a zip line?

richardson-adventure-farm

Richardson Adventure Farm’s 2016 Star Trek corn maze

Picking fresh fall produce is a seasonal staple. Jonamac Orchard, Royal Oak Farm Orchard, and Rendleman Farms are just a few of the top places around the state to get your fall flavor fix, including the must-have apple cider donuts. Hand pick a variety of apples and stop by the country store to stock up on preserves, pickles, baked goods and other specialty items.

rendlemen-farms-at-yoshifujiiceramics

Photo of Rendleman Farm by Instagram user yoshifujiiceramics

Prost! to Illinois Beer Festivals

What happens when you combine fall and beer? You get Oktoberfest, of course! These classic German beer festivals are held all over the state. Champaign and Galena each host their own reputable Oktoberfest celebrations on October 1 to celebrate German heritage, food, beer, music and more.
Beyond Oktoberfest, fall beer festivals are happening all over the state. Say “cheers” to these celebrations this season:

  • Woodstock Ale Fest, October 1: Celebrate the three “B”s at Woodstock Ale Fest: craft beer, bacon and bluegrass!
  • Cock-A-Doodle Brew Fest, October 8: Aurora’s brew fest brings together local craft beers, finger-lickin’ good wings and a lineup of live music.
  • Festival of Barrel Aged Beers, November 11-12: Held in Chicago, this is the country’s largest celebration of wood and barrel-aged beers where you can taste some of the rarest beers, which may not be available commercially from breweries across the U.S.
galena-oktoberfest-weiner-dog-races

Wiener Dog Races are a highlight of Galena’s annual Oktoberfest. (Photo courtesy of Galena Oktoberfest)

Color Drives and Leaf-Peeping Hikes

Part of what makes this time of year so special is seeing the leaves change from summery green to fiery red, yellow and orange. There’s no better time to see the fall foliage than in September and October. Take a peaceful ride along the Great River Road in Alton or Grandview Drive in Peoria – the road President Teddy Roosevelt called the “World’s Most Beautiful Drive.”

great-river-scenic-byway

The Great River Road Scenic Byway in Alton

For those looking to get up close with fall foliage, enjoy a leaf-peeping hike through one of the state’s many parks. Starved Rock State Park and Shawnee National Forest make for two exceptional opportunities to see fall colors at their brightest.

starved-rock-state-park

A canyon Starved Rock State Park as the leaves change colors

There are hundreds of fall events and activities happening this year. To find out more, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

 

 

 

 

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The journey can be just as rewarding as the destination, and the roads and paths throughout Illinois can bring us on some pretty amazing journeys. This week, we asked our Instagram followers to share photos of their favorite roads and paths 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.

7.11 Roads kickoff (atjonfromchicago

We started this week’s challenge with this photo leading us to the Loop in Chicago! Thanks (at)jonfromchicago for the awesome shot!

Shawnee National Forest (at)nomadicvisuals

There are incredible pathways all over the state, like this one in Shawnee National Forest. Great capture by (at)nomadicvisuals

+Southern Illinois (at)_skinnyman_

You might be surprised about what you might cross paths with in Illinois! Thanks (at)_skinnyman_ for the great photo of Southern Illinois!

-Galena (at) danreynoldsphotography

You never know where the path may lead especially when exploring Galena! Thanks (at)danreynoldsphotogaphy for the great photo!

-Golf Course Road, Marion IL (at) my_tinfoil_crown

Follow the yellow brick road? We’ll follow the Golf Course Road instead! Thanks for the cool photo (at)my_tinfoil_crown!

-Great Western Trail (at) stufotog

We could spend all summer exploring the Great Western Trail! Thanks (at)stufotog for the awesome photo!

-McHenry County Conservation District North Branch (at) discovermccd (at)iltrailbiker

Listening to Robert Frost and taking the road less traveled to McHenry County Conservation district! Thanks (at)iltrailbiker for the great shot!

-Rockford (at) projectrockford (at)checoimgd

This covered path leads us right to downtown Rockford! Instagrammer (at)checoimgd captured this one for Project Rockford!

Country Roads (at)sheisthewoods

There’s nothing like a trip down country roads, just ask (at)sheisthewoods.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

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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

Sculpture Feature Image

This week we asked our Instagram followers to share photos that surround the theme “sculpture.” 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.

Mt St. Mary Park - St Charles - (at) yoga.gal

We kicked off this week’s challenge with this unique black and white shot of Mt. St. Mary Park in St. Charles by @yoga.gal!

Star-Crossed Pollinators Sculpture - (at) sam_morehead

How cool is this shot of the Star-Crossed Pollinators Sculpture in Bloomington? Thanks @sam_morehead for sharing!

Lincoln Statue - (at) debsfarmstand

Illinois is known as the Land of Lincoln, and almost anywhere you go, you’re bound to find Lincoln history. Instagramer @debsfarmstand captured this shot of the Lincoln statue in Dixon!

Art Institute Lion - (at) c.kopeckyck1

Instagramer @c.kopeckyck1 shared this shot of the famous bronze lion statue outside the Art Institute of Chicago.

Federal Plaza Flamingo (at)secondcityginger

We love the contrast between the angular, black buildings and abstract, red sculpture in this shot by @jibasaur. This piece called “Flamingo” by Alexander Calder is located at Federal Plaza in Chicago.

Flamingo (at) mrrogers82585

Here’s another shot of “Flamingo” by @mrrogers82585!

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Rooftop Feature Image

It all starts with the first warm day. People from all across the state break free of their winter hibernation and flock to the closest outdoor space. For many, the start of warm weather means one thing – patio season is finally here! Luckily, Illinois has its fair share of rooftop bars and beer gardens to pull in patrons looking for cool brews and even cooler views.

A recent addition to Chicago’s restaurant scene, Cindy’s Rooftop is the perfect place to spend a summer evening. Located on the 13th floor of Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, the rooftop restaurant and open-air terrace offers breathtaking vistas of Chicago’s Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. Cindy’s atmosphere is airy, almost reminiscent of a beach house, complete with strung lights, whimsical greenery, communal, picnic-style seating and fire pits.

Cindy's Rooftop 2

The incredible setting isn’t the only thing that keeps visitors coming back time and time again. Cindy’s Executive Chef, Christian Ragano, works in tandem with Spirit Guide Nandini Khaund to create a seasonally-evolving menu full of shareable picnic-style food and drink offerings. From classic craft cocktails to wine and apothecaries, Cindy’s serves up beverages that suit the taste of a wide variety of diners.

Cindy's Rooftop

Down the road in Rockford, we leave behind the rooftop views for a waterside landing at Prairie Street Brewing Co. (PSB Co.), the largest outdoor riverfront patio in the city. The dock at PSB Co. is the perfect place to sit back on a sunny Midwestern day, and is the only spot downtown to publicly park your boat for an afternoon of fun.

“Prairie Street Brewing Company always comes to mind when suggesting unique, local spots in our region. Their eclectic food options, locally brewed craft beer and riverside dock set the scene for a perfect night out,” said Andrea Mandala, RACVB marketing & communications manager. “I love the great energy from their staff and experiencing the good vibes from local bands as they’re performing dockside at PSB Co.”

Prairie Street Brewhouse

Anyone in Champaign knows that Blind Pig Brewery is the downtown hot spot on warm summer evenings. As the first brewery in Champaign after prohibition, this iconic establishment has set the bar high for craft beer. Blind Pig has a robust menu made up of its own brews as well as craft beer from around the country. With taps rotating regularly, visitors have the chance to try out something new each time they stop by. The interior is rustic and British in feel, reflective of owner Chris Knight’s heritage, but step outside and you will be transported to a lush and luminous beer garden. With strung lights swinging above your head and the Champaign City Building looming just beyond, many will argue that there is no better place to be as the nights heat up than the Blind Pig Brewery beer garden with a cold one in hand.

Blind Pig Brewery

Looking to experience outdoor sipping for yourself? Here’s where you can check out the establishments mentioned above as well as some other hot spots around the state.

Cindy’s Rooftop

12 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603

(312) 792-3502

Prairie Street Brewhouse

Prairie Street, Rockford, IL 61107

(815) 277-9427

Blind Pig Brewery

Neil Street, Champaign, IL 61820

(217) 398-5133

Grafton Winery & Brewhaus

300 W. Main Street, Grafton, IL 62037

(618) 786-3001

Two Brothers Roadhouse

205 N. Broadway, Aurora, IL 60505

(630) 264-2739

Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery

835 S. 2nd Street, Springfield, IL 62704

(217)523-4466

– Illinois Office of Tourism