Category Archives: Central Illinois

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REAL Feature Image

As the old saying goes, we only have one Earth, so we all need to do our part to take care of it! Illinoisans are always looking for ways to bring their communities together to help take care of the environment.  Earth Day, on April 22, gives us the chance to take time out from our busy schedules and appreciate how incredible this place we all call home truly is. We’ve rounded up a few of the Earth Day events happening around the state to help you celebrate and give back!

Free Divvy Rides

An easy way to make a difference, Divvy is partnering with Naked Juice to offer Chicago residents a free 24-hour pass, allowing you to take unlimited 30-minute trips throughout the day. You can find the many Divvy locations across the city here, just remember to bring your helmet. Happy Biking!

Divvy Bikes - (at) myers15533

Divvy bikes are found all throughout the city for easy access and return. (Photo by @myers15533)

Earth Day 5K Fun/Run Super Hero Race

Want to help save the planet? Grab your latest Super Hero gear and head over to Millennium Park in Lindenhurst to participate in the Earth Day 5K on April 23. This event is free for all ages and starts at 9am, beginning and ending right in the Park.

Brookfield Zoo’s Party for the Planet

Take a trip to Brookfield Zoo for Party for the Planet on Sunday, April 24 to learn more about the steps you can take to make a difference for animals across the globe. There will be an Eco Expo featuring over 40 environmentally focused vendors, a recycling drop off point, opportunities to plant a tree, and special Zoo chats on conservation. These family fun activities go from 9:30-3:30pm, so you can make a day of it!

Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo’s “Party for the Planet” is a great way for kids of all ages to give back! (Photo courtesy of brookfieldzoo.org)

Twin City Farmer’s Market Earth Day Bash

Mark April 23 on your calendar for the Earth Day Bash at the Twin City Farmer’s Market in Sterling! From 8am-noon, you can head down to the Market to learn how to start your own “greenhouse in a bag” with Master Gardeners from the University of Illinois Extension and make seed bombs. A variety of Earth Day themed games and giveaways will also be held, in addition to a special menu by Chef Myra. Don’t forget to leave some time to explore the locally sourced offerings from the markets dozens of vendors!

Twin City Farmer's Market

Kids will get the chance to start their own “greenhouse in a bag” at the Twin City Farmer’s Market Earth Bash! (Photo courtesy of Twin City Farmer’s Market)

Earth Day 50K

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than spending some time in the great outdoors! Join MUDD as they host the 5th annual Earth Day 50K, 15 mile and 5 mile run in Crystal Lake on Saturday, April 23.  Throughout the race, you’ll get to experience the beautiful rolling hills, blossoming spring flowers, open prairie, and pine forest of Veteran Acres and Sternes Woods. This year’s race is already sold out, but you can still join in the fun as a race-day volunteer!

Earth Day 50K Crystal Lake

Spend the morning outdoors at the Earth Day Trail Runs in Crystal Lake! (Photo courtesy of Earth Day 50K)

Earth Day Faire

Although celebrated a week after Earth Day, Oak Lawn’s Earth Day Faire on April 30 offers family fun activities from 10am-2pm including scavenger hunts, tree climbing demonstrations, bike tune-ups, gardening, composting, and Jim Nesci’s Cold Blooded Creatures.

Homer Glen’s Earth Day – Arbor Day

If you are a little late to the celebration or need a way to celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day all in one, The Village of Homer Glen is having its 9th annual festival on May 21, offering a variety of activities for the whole family. Whether you are looking for to meet alligators and monkeys, purchase arts and crafts, participate in demonstrations, or have opportunities to recycle, this festival has it all!

Homer Glen Earth Day

Homer Glen’s Earth Day and Arbor Day offers many fun activities for the whole family. (Photo courtesy of Village of Homer Glen)

– Illinois Office of Tourism

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

North Branch Chicago River - (at)nwmyers

This week, we kicked off our “adventure” challenge with this awesome photo taken at North Branch Chicago River by @nwmyers.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve - (at) nirvdave

This trail at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve definitely makes us want to go for a hike. Taken by @nirvdave, it fits our theme “adventure” perfectly!

Matthiessen State Park - (at) sherri_sahara

We love the perspective of this shot taken at Matthiessen State Park by @sherri_sahara!

Starved Rock State Park - (at) thechispy

The waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park are always a sight to see. Great capture @thechispy!

Giant City State Park - (at) geo_andrea

Talk about an adventure! Great photo taken at Giant City State Park by @geo_andrea.

Piney Creek Ravine Nature Preserve - (at) midwest__adventurer

This photo has us dreaming of spring weather. (Taken at Piney Creek Ravine Nature Preserve by @midwest_adventurer)

Chicago - (at) ashtaylaf

Love this photo by @ashtaylaf. It’s always an adventure in Chicago!

Starved Rock - (at) danielle_2889

Great photo taken at Starved Rock State Park by @danielle_2889!

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Spring Break Feature Image

Dreaming of spring already? It may be winter now, but soon the weather will be turning and spring will be on its way. If you’re looking to plan a spring break getaway, check out these three trip ideas in Central Illinois!

For the road tripper:

Roll down the windows and turn up the radio for a cruise on the open road this spring. Illinois Route 66 is the perfect road trip for anyone looking to discover the quirky and nostalgic age of the Mother Road. Start in Chicago and make you way 300 miles across the state stopping for photo ops at these cities in Central Illinois:

Pontiac Illinois- Route 66 Mural

The Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum is home to a mural of the largest Route 66 shield in the world!

For the foodie:

Eat to live or live to eat? If you answered the latter, then plan a spring break trip to visit some of the incredible restaurants the Land of Lincoln has to offer!

  • For craft beer lovers, look no further than Blind Pig Brewery in Champaign for local brews, delicious food and a great outdoor patio.
  • Firefly Grill in Effingham is known for its fresh American cuisine made from local and seasonal ingredients.
  • Seasonal beer, classic pub grub and an outdoor bocce garden make Obed & Isaac’s in Springfield a must-visit spot.
  • Stop by Epiphany Farms in Bloomington for a “farm-to-fork” experience you won’t soon forget.
sunset shot

The Firefly Grill is a can’t-miss farm-to-table experience.

For the outdoor lover:

If you love all things nature, soak in the spring weather with an outdoor adventure at one of the many beautiful parks and gardens in Illinois.

  • Explore 1,500 acres of woodlands, formal gardens and more than 100 sculptures at Allerton Park & Retreat Center in Monticello, formerly the private estate of Robert Henry Allerton.
  • Luthy Botanical Gardens in Peoria is home to a tropical conservatory as well as several themed gardens, including an herb garden, woodland garden, children’s garden and more.
  • Experience a variety of gardens and native plants at the University of Illinois Arboretum in Urbana and welcome spring with a stroll through the Sen Cherry Tree Allee, where cherry tree blossoms form a pink canopy of flowers overhead.
University of Illinois Arboretum 2

The University of Illinois Arboretum makes for the perfect spring space to explore.

For more spring break trip ideas, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Unique Winter Activities Feature Image

It’s finally feeling like winter in Illinois, and there are plenty of outdoor adventures like skiing, ice skating and snowboarding to enjoy. But if you’re looking for a new way to enjoy the winter weather, look no further. There are numerous activities where you can unplug from a busy week while still relishing the winter season.

If making winter plans with friends and family is more of a brain freeze than brain storm, check out these three unique outdoor adventures for this winter in the Great Rivers Country.

Bald Eagle Days at Pere Marquette State Park

Take a trip to Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton and participate in Bald Eagle Days, an informative program about the eagle unique to North America. You’ll learn the differences between immature and mature bald eagles, discover what they eat, and figure out why some call Illinois home during the winter months. Open until March 4, this is an exciting opportunity to view the wintering bald eagles.

Eagle perched on a tree-Alton CVB

A bald eagle perched in a tree at Pere Marquette State Park

Wildlife Prairie Park

This 2,000-acre zoological park allows you to get up close and personal with animals native to Illinois and the Midwest such as cougars, black bears, bobcats, bison and owls. Just 10 miles west of downtown Peoria and open all year round, the adventure never stops with a butterfly garden, wildflowers, lakes and restored prairies to visit as well.

wildlifeprairiepark- canada lynx

A Canada lynx at Wildlife Prairie Park. (Photo credit: (at) wildlifeprairiepark)

Luthy Botanical Garden

Experience the jaw dropping colors and spectacular display of flowers and shrubs at Peoria’s Luthy Botanical Garden. Open all year-round, seven days a week, the Garden embraces five acres and offers multiple theme gardens including an Herb Garden, Woodland Garden, Rose Garden and Hosta Glade. If that wasn’t enough, you don’t want to miss out on the Conservatory floral displays showcasing lilies, orchids and poinsettias. If visiting the Peoria Zoo is already on your list of places to visit, use your Zoo receipt at the Garden on the same day for free admission!

Luthy Botanical Gardens (at) erikschims

Check out the beautiful blooms at Luthy Botanical Gardens! (Instagram photo: (at) erikschims)

For more unique winter activities, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Illinois Presidents Feature Image

Illinois has a history as rich as its food – and if you don’t believe us, just take a trip to Springfield and grab a horseshoe sandwich! Illinois is home to some of the United States’ most famous presidents, and history buffs can find information about these American leaders in all corners of the state.

But, if quirky facts are more your style, take a look below at a few little known details about these great American leaders.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, 1861-1865

Likely the mostly widely recognized Illinoisan, Abraham Lincoln is more than just a former president: he is a state icon. But, Honest Abe is not just known for his policy. With his large frame and long limbs, the tallest president of the U.S. is also enshrined in the Wrestling Hall of Fame. According to history.com, Lincoln has an impressive track record of only being defeated once in nearly 300 matches.

Learn more about Lincoln at one of these exciting Springfield attractions:

MiniAbe Big Ten

Mini Abe knows he’s number one!

Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States, 1869-1877

Think you know what to call the 18th Commander in Chief of the United States? Guess again. Due to a mistake by a benefactor on his application for West Point, Ulysses S. Grant is widely known under the wrong name. Born Hiram Ulysses Grant, the “S” in this president’s name actually stands for nothing.

Take a walk through Galena and get a glimpse at a day in the life of this American leader:

Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States, 1981-1989

Ronald Reagan has left a lasting impression in American history books and on the silver screen, but among former peers and colleagues, President Reagan is known for his sweet tooth. This former Commander in Chief began eating jelly beans to help him quit smoking during his run for Governor of California. This continued into his presidency, and a crystal jar of jelly beans was always available during his Cabinet meetings.

Get off the beaten path and take a look at Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon.

Ronald Reagan boyhood home

Stop by to learn more about Reagan’s transition from this white house to one in Washington, D.C. and everything in between.

Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, 2008-2016

Too much of a good thing can sometimes be just that: way too much. Our nation’s current president reportedly worked for Baskin Robbins during his youth, and it’s left quite the impression. He now jokes that he still can’t eat ice cream to this day after spending one too many summers scooping ice cream in Honolulu.

Be sure to stop by the Obama Family Home in Hyde Park on your next trip to Chicago to learn more about the life of President Obama, and stay tuned for the Obama Presidential Library coming to Chicago!

For more trip ideas, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism