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Trails to Adventure Light Festival Feature Image

The holiday season is just around the corner! From sipping hot cocoa with friends to taking pictures with Santa, Illinois hosts sparkling light festivals perfect for to experience with family and friends. Check out these five must-see light festivals in Central and Southern Illinois to make the most of this season!

East Peoria Festival of Lights and Folepi’s Winter Wonderland – November 23-January 1

With more than two million lights, East Peoria’s Festival of Lights and Wonderland is a mesmerizing display for visitors or all ages. The event kicks off November 21 with a three-mile Parade of Lights through downtown Peoria. The festival will crown a Lights Queen on November 15, conduct a citywide ornament hunt on November 25 and judge a Christmas splendor exterior decorating contest on December 8.

And for those looking to start the New Year on the right foot , sign up for East Peoria’s Get Lit New Year’s Eve Fun Run. This non-competitive and festive run starts at 11:50 p.m. on December 31, winding through Folepi’s Winter Wonderland and offering an exclusive view of the twinkling lights.

East Peoria Lights Festival 1

One of the vibrant displays at the East Peoria Festival of Lights.

Shelbyville Festival of Lights – November 20-January 2

Take a leisurely drive through Forest Park to see Shelbyville lit up in the holiday spirit. With new lights and themes every year, this festival of lights is a must-see this season. Families and couples are sure to enjoy the festive features including Victorian Village, Santa’s Shop, the North Pole and more.

Du Quoin Annual Holiday Lights Fair – November 25-December 31

For the holiday season, the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds get a festive makeover, transforming the grounds into a magical place of lights and decorations. Drive through  incredible lighted displays and decorated trees before enjoying live entertainment, delicious food and, of course, visits with Mr. Claus at Santa’s Train Ride and Workshop.

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows Way of Lights – November 20-January 1

Illuminating the already beautiful 200 acres of landscape, the Way of Lights festival at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville features fun and festive events such as a new Lego Display play area for children and Tails, Trails and Twinkles, a perfect occasion to share the shining lights alongside four-legged friends.

Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage to admire the twinkling lights at the Way of Lights!

Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage to admire the twinkling lights at the Way of Lights!

Fantasy of Lights – November 30-January 1

Fantasy of Lights in Centralia is perfect for families with kids or couples looking for a spirited night out. Guests can appreciate the lighted displays on a drive through Foundation Park to experience twinkling candy canes or golfing Santa. In December, the ‘Little Obie’ train offers free rides for children – and adults, too – to meet Santa.

For more ways to celebrate the holiday season, visit

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Land of Lincoln Feature Image

The Land of Lincoln is not just one of the most history-rich regions in Illinois, but in the entire country. Springfield alone is home to more Abraham Lincoln historical sites than any other place in the world, and beyond that, there are even more attractions where history buffs can soak up knowledge in Central Illinois. 

Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center

Celebrating the rich history of Litchfield, this museum gives visitors a look at the evolution of the culture, lifestyle and economy of America’s Heartland across several generations through the prism of one Midwestern town. Early agriculture, the growth of railroads, industrialization and Route 66 are all covered by this fascinating museum that just opened in 2012.

The Litchfield Museum highlights several eras of Illinois history.

The Litchfield Museum highlights several eras of Illinois history.

Route 66 Arcade Museum

 For a different kind of museum experience, head to Atlanta to see classic video games that date back to the 1930s, many of which are still playable! The interactive museum features more than 40 vintage pinball and arcade games, including the original PacMan game, and cost only a quarter for visitors to play.

MiniAbe tries his hand at a vintage game at the Route 66 Arcade Museum.

MiniAbe tries his hand at a vintage game at the Route 66 Arcade Museum.

Carlinville Historic District

 This historic downtown district features the “Million Dollar Courthouse,” a destination for artists and architects from all over the world, as well as the Macoupin County Jail, a medieval-looking fortress that has been open since 1869. The Macoupin County Historical Museum also houses exhibits and artifacts reflecting the history of the area in a beautiful two-story Victorian mansion.

The “Million Dollar” Courthouse in historic downtown Carlinville. (Photo courtesy of Instagramer (at) rmasters78)

The “Million Dollar” Courthouse in historic downtown Carlinville. (Photo courtesy of Instagramer (at) rmasters78)

The Original Steak’n’Shake

 Brush up on your diner history with a stop at the original Steak ‘n’ Shake at 1219 South Main Street in Normal. It still resembles a 50s-style diner and serves all the quintessential American fast food favorites: burgers, fries and milkshakes.

For more historical attractions across the state, check out for more trip ideas.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Instagram (@healer84) @ Kennekuk County Park FEATURE

You need one last hurrah before the end of summer, but you want to discover something new. Take a trip to Danville and make some lasting memories with the guys. Here are four suggestions for a great guys’ day in Danville.

Turtle Run Golf Club

Turtle Run has been one of the premier golf courses in Illinois since 1970. Designed by Jim Spears, this par 72 championship golf course provides four sets of tee lengths so that golfers of all skill levels can feel both challenged and competitive. After your round, be sure to stop by Snapper’s Bar and Grill for lunch. Turtle Run also has a public swimming pool and a golf shop with all the latest gear.

The lush, green fairways at Turtle Run Golf Club

The lush, green fairways at Turtle Run Golf Club.

Vermilion County War Museum

Witness the birth and growth of a nation through its military history at the Vermilion County War Museum. Travelers come from around the world to see more than 25,000 artifacts from throughout U.S. history.

Kennekuk County Park

Explore the wilderness on the 15 miles of trails in this 3,000-acre park. Canoe, kayak or fish on one of seven lakes and three rivers as you soak in this peaceful natural setting. An abundance of wildlife also roams the park, such as foxes, hawks, beavers, white-tailed deer and if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a bald eagle!

Enjoy the serenity on Lake Mingo in Kennekuk County Park

Instagramer (at) healer84 captured the serenity on Lake Mingo in Kennekuk County Park.

Moon Glo

Cap off your eventful day in Danville at Moon Glo, a community staple that serves up a hardy variety of juicy steaks and massive burgers. Moon Glo even gives you the option to grill your own meat so you can cook that perfectly seasoned, mouth-watering steak.

End your day with a beer and some delicious meet at Moon Glo.

End your day with a beer and some delicious meet at Moon Glo.

For more information on fun places to explore in Illinois this summer, check out

–Illinois Office of Tourism

Cozy Dog Feature Image

This week we asked followers to “find something more” in Illinois! If you identified and found the Cozy Dog Drive In in Springfield, congratulations! Be sure to follow us on Instagram for upcoming weekly challenges.


The challenge photo of the Cozy Dog Drive In

A Route 66 staple since 1949, Cozy Dog Drive In is the home of the one and only Cozy Dog! Similar to a corn dog-on-a-stick, the Cozy Dog is made from a Waldmire family recipe. Guests love Cozy Dog Drive In’s whimsical selection of Route 66 memorabilia.


Photo by Instagramer @thestorytellerstudios



Photo by Instagramer @nathanmichael



Photo by Instagramer @nickmurway


Facebook_Carol Plahm

Photo by Carol Plahm on Facebook


Facebook_Karen Frankland Schindler

Photo by Karen Frankland on Facebook


-The Illinois Office of Tourism


Nothing says summer like the fast-approaching 4th of July. Mouth-watering, classic American food has always been synonymous with July 4, so check out these four great places to spend your holiday weekend in the Land of Lincoln.

Lil Porgy’s BBQ in Champaign

 What could be more American than pigging out on giant slabs of delicious barbeque? Lil Porgy’s has specialized in savory, hickory-smoked barbeque since 1979. Offering everything from succulent ribs and pulled pork basted in their secret sauce to catfish and authentic Polish sausage, Porgy’s has everything you need for a feast fit for our founding fathers.

Lil Porgy’s is some of the best barbeque in Champaign.

Lil Porgy’s is some of the best barbeque in Champaign.

The Chili Parlor in Springfield

The only thing better than a hot dog on the 4th of July is a hot dog smothered in some of the state’s finest chili. Formerly Joe Rogers’ Chili Parlor, The Chili Parlor has been cooking with its original family recipe for 70 years. There is something for everyone’s taste buds with mild, medium, hot and the famously spicy Firebrand chili.

JoeRogers TheDen Chili by (at) ajwalenga

This spicy bowl from The Chili Parlor will ignite your taste buds.

Lake Shelbyville

Want to grill up your own dinner? Scenic Lake Shelbyville’s picnic areas and campgrounds offer plenty of space for your family to enjoy your own delicious, home-cooked burgers and dogs before a breathtaking fireworks display over the lake. Spend a relaxing weekend in the open air fishing, boating, hiking and much more with Lake Shelbyville’s many outdoor activities and unique attractions that everyone will enjoy.

Lake Shelbyville

Lake Shelbyville’s picnic areas are ideally situated for family barbeques.

Jubelt’s Bakery & Restaurant in Litchfield

This family-owned bakery off Route 66 is a great place to stop in for a classic July 4 delicacy: apple pie. You can enjoy at Jubelt’s for breakfast or lunch, just as long as you don’t leave without dessert. Their pastries and comfort foods have been a community staple since 1922.

Where is your favorite place to spend July 4? Comment and share with us below. For more ideas on things to do in the Land of Lincoln, visit

–Illinois Office of Tourism