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Route 66 feature image

This is a big year for Route 66, and people around the world are celebrating the historic highway’s 90th anniversary. First designated as a road in 1926, Route 66 – often referred to as The Mother Road of America – is known for its nostalgia, charm and classic American appeal. While driving the route in Illinois, plan to see kitschy murals and monuments, quaint and historic towns, and people who can tell you all there is to know about Route 66.

Route 66 is a global attraction, and to celebrate this historic year, the Illinois Office of Tourism is spreading our love for the Mother Road with events in Germany, the UK and right here in the states.

London, England

To kick off this year’s 90th anniversary celebration, Illinois brought a taste of the Mother Road to London with a street party and pop-up mural. Well-known street artist Will Vibes created a 52-foot mural depicting iconic attractions along Route 66, which starts in Chicago.

The mural was accompanied by a pop-up party in Central London and included a food truck with Chicago-style hotdogs, a blues band and a classic car.

Ofterdingen, Germany

A bit further away in Germany, Route 66 fanfare was in full effect at the first ever Route 66 Festival in Ofterdingen, just outside Stuttgart. Enthusiasts of the Mother Road from all over the globe came to the festival to share their excitement and celebrate this year’s anniversary. Festival goers even got to experience the Illinois stretch of the road through an interactive photo booth with fun props and by speaking with tourism experts about Route 66 in Illinois.

Chicago, Illinois

And right here in the U.S., Bow Truss Coffee Roasters recently opened a new shop right at the start of Route 66 in downtown Chicago! A pop-up party brought the Illinois Route 66 experience to Chicagoans. Here, they sampled the new Bow Truss Route 66 Blend, interacted with authentic memorabilia from the Berwyn Route 66 Museum and watched a live mural depicting classic Route 66 stops in Illinois – like the Gemini Giant and Cozy Dog Drive In – come to life before their eyes.

The event featured a 1944 red Ford Coupe, pictured here, and authentic memorabilia from the Berwyn Route 66 Museum. Visitors could even enter to win an official Route 66 road sign.

There are even more celebrations in the works as we move closer to the Mother Road’s official anniversary date this November, like these upcoming events in Illinois:

Stay tuned to Enjoy Illinois’ social channels for updates so you can join in on the fun! And if you’re looking to start planning your Route 66 trip, be sure to visit EnjoyIllinois.com for inspiration.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Bike Trails Feature Image

As warmer temperatures roll in, so do bikers, eager to get their wheels back out and put in miles towards another season. Whether you’re an avid cyclist or just looking for a leisurely afternoon ride, there is always somewhere new to explore. Bike trails around the state offer experiences that range in difficulty, from the easy ride to the intense climb, there’s a trail for every rider. So what are you waiting for? Hop in the saddle and get going!

Rolling agricultural fields, reclaimed strip mines, ravines, rocky streams and wooded bluffs dominate the northern half of the Tunnel Hill State Trail in Vienna. With 47.8 miles (one-way) of crushed gravel surface, extended inclines and dark tunnels, this trail is a difficult one. But if you’re up to the challenge, don’t pass up this Southern Illinois gem.

Tunnel Hill State Trail 1

Tunnel Hill State Trail

The southern half of the trail explodes with scenery that includes bottomland woods, ponds, streams and marshes. The trail, which winds through seven towns, even touches upon a handful of ghost towns that faded into the landscape after the trains here stopped running.

Tunnel Hill State Trail 2

Tunnel Hill State Trail

 

And in the opposite direction of Tunnel Hill, head up north to the Fox River Trail in St. Charles, 32 miles of biking, hiking and, in the winter, cross-country skiing featuring the scenic trails of the Fox River. Make this ride as easy or difficult as you like. There are plenty of spots to pull over and enjoy the scenery or snap a selfie, like the Carpenters Dam, Fox River Shores, Tyler Creek, Voyageur Landing, Shoemaker Nature Center and Fabyan Forest Preserve.

Fox River Bike Trail

The Fox River Trail in St. Charles

 

In Chicago, one the most popular outdoor spots is The 606, celebrating its first birthday this summer. This 2.7-mile rails-to-trails path is one of the newest additions to the city’s green space with gardens and parks lining the trail. Enjoy a more leisurely ride along this path, and in the warmer weather, expect to see lots of dogs, children and people enjoying the trail and various summer events.

The 606 - Courtesy of The Trust for Public Land

The 606 in Chicago (Photo credit: The Trust for Public Land)

 

Along the western edge of the state, cyclists nationally and internationally ride the 62.5 mile stretch the Great River Trail that runs from the Illinois Quad Cities to Savanna, Illinois. This trail isn’t just for the biking enthusiast. The whole trail system measures 10 feet in width to allow bikers and walkers plenty of passing room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ben Butterworth Parkway

 

From panoramic river views and wooded trails, to prairie areas, backwaters and marsh areas, riders will also enjoy the scenic view and unique towns that call the banks of the Mississippi River their home.

These trails are also part of the Mississippi River Trail (MRT), a 10-state network of bike trails and bike-friendly roads that lines the Mississippi River from its headwaters in Minnesota all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.

– 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

Feature Image

This week we asked our Instagram followers to share photos that fit the theme “street art.” Check out a few of these awesome shots from around the state below. Be sure to follow us on Instagram for upcoming weekly challenges, and remember to share your best photos with us by tagging #EnjoyIllinois and your photo could be featured in a future roundup!

For more unique Illinois destinations, events and attractions check out EnjoyIllinois.com.

Urbana - (at) carlcatedral

To kick off our challenge this week, we shared this awesome shot of @airurbana by @carlcatedral.

South loop - from doom to bloom - (at) mjacx27

Have you visited The Wabash Arts Corridor? Located in the south loop and regarded as a living urban canvas, you’ll find many amazing murals and street art! Great photo @mjacx27!

Kelly's Pub - Lincoln Park - (at) 1moremarathon

How many of you have seen the blue demon outside of Kelly’s Pub in the Lincoln Park neighborhood? (Photo by @1moremarathon)

West Loop - (at) stacyjoanna

We love the bright colors used for this piece of artwork located in the West Loop. Great shot @stacyjoanna!

8th & Wabash - (at) beckyzhang_

This piece can be found on 8th and Wabash, another project that is part of the Wabash Arts Corridor! (Photo by @beckyzhang_)

Northside of Chicago - (at) with_liza

Just your typical day in Chicago! (Photo taken on the northside of Chicago by @with_liza)

Pilsen - Pink Line - (at) out_with_alejandro

The Pilsen neighborhood is known for its beautiful street art, including this decorative CTA stop on 18th street! (Photo by @out_with_alejandro)

17 N State Street - (at) impermanent_art

We love the incredible detail that went into the Muddy Waters mural on State Street! Great shot by @impermanent_art!

State Street - (at) jotorr

Another great capture on State Street by @jotorr!

Rat & Girl - (at) readumandweep

We may be biased, but we think Chicago has some of the best street art in the world. (Photo by @readumandweep)

– Illinois Office of Tourism

Indoor Activities for Adults Feature Image

Spring is finally here, which means April showers are on the way. But what should you do on those rainy spring days? We have just the thing. We’ve got a great list of fun activities to keep in mind while the weather is still warming up.

Hit the Mall

While the Magnificent Mile remains the most widely known retail mecca of the Midwest, there are plenty of other shopping locations in Illinois for you to find the retail therapy – and new spring wardrobe – you’ve been searching for. Find even more shopping experiences around the state in the new exclusive digital content from Travel Illinois Magazine, linked here.

  • With more than 200 manufacturer and retail outlet stores offering up to 70 percent off, serious shoppers can’t go wrong at Gurnee Mills. Located in Gurnee, this shopping center even has activities for the non-shopper to enjoy, like laser tag, arcade games and a movie theatre.
  • And, not to be outdone, the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg boasts nearly 300 stores, restaurants and specialty shops – all under one roof.
  • Chicago is also home to multiple indoor shopping centers that can help protect you from the elements, including the 900 North Michigan Shops that offer a taste of luxury and the famous Water Tower Place, which presents shoppers with a unique, high-energy urban shopping experience like no other.
Grand Court facing Nordstrom

Even window shopping can be fun at Woodfield Mall’s multi-level shopping center located just west of Chicago.

Take in a Show

No matter what you’re in the mood for, Illinois has no shortage of entertainment opportunities. Here are a few tips that we recommend for finding that perfect way to unwind with a laugh, a little music or both.  

  • For laughs, there’s no place like the world famous Second City in Chicago. With shows each night of the week ranging from improve to stand up to full productions, the Second City has a 50 year reputation for producing comedy stars like Dan Aykroyd and Tina Fey.
  • Experience the blues like you’ve never heard them before at Blue Chicago. Located close to Ontario Street’s restaurant row, this blues club is the perfect way to spice up a night out.
  • Treat yourself to the Broadway experience at one of Chicago’s many fabulous theatres. Home to the hottest shows direct from Broadway and world premieres, these venues are sure to create lasting memories.
Bank of America Theatre

The lush Bank of American Theatre is classic venue to see the latest and greatest on Broadway.

Indoor Sports

Shake off that winter snooze with some adventure. Illinois is home to all kinds of exciting indoor adventures that can send you to new heights. Embrace your inner child with one of these three fun activities:

  • Feel the simulation of true free fall conditions in a vertical wind tunnel at iFLY in Naperville, Chicago or Rosemont (then suit up for the real thing this summer).
  • Strap in for a unique challenge that combines basketball, lacrosse and hockey with bumper cars at WhirlyBall Chicago. If it sounds silly, that’s because it is.
  • Take it down a notch and lace up for a classic game of bowling or bocce at Pinstripes in Chicago or one of the three suburban locations.

For more ideas, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism