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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

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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

 

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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

St Patricks Day Feature Image

St. Patrick’s Day is just a few days away, and in Illinois, there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate the luck of the Irish! From parades to pub parties, you can find Irish festivities in every corner of the state.

Below is a roundup of some of our favorite ways to celebrate this year:

Chicago

The Windy City is known for its St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, including parades, the dyeing of the Chicago River and countless parties at local Irish pubs. Check out these three celebrations coming up this weekend:

  • Chicago River Dyeing, Saturday, March 12 at 9 am – This once-a-year spectacle draws nearly 400,000 people to see the Chicago River erupt into a sea of green. Boats release 45 pounds of eco-friendly vegetable dye into the water to amp up the holiday spirit. The dye only lasts about five hours, so make sure to see it at its brightest!
  • Downtown Parade, Saturday, March 12 at 12 pm – Chicago celebrates St. Patty’s Day with one of the largest parades in the country. This free event features floats, Irish dancers, bands, bagpipers and of course, plenty of green.
  • South Side Irish Parade, Sunday, March 13 at 12 pm – Continue the Irish festivities all weekend with 150,000 people at the South Side Irish Parade on Sunday. Floats, music, dancers and the Emerald Isle Mile make this event memorable for all.
CC-St-Patricks-Greening-River

See the Chicago River light up as it transforms into a sea of green! (Photo credit: Choose Chicago)

Springfield

This year marks Springfield’s 32nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade starting Saturday, March 12 at noon. This parade is a great opportunity for families to celebrate the festivities of St. Patrick’s Day and explore downtown Springfield.

SpringStPats_2016-large

The theme of Springfield’s 2016 parade is “Family is Thee Pot O’Gold”!

Peoria

Most St. Patty’s celebrations are during the weekend before the holiday, but if you’re looking to sham-rock out on the actual day, make sure to join Peoria’s 16th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Party on Thursday, March 17. The parade starts at 11 am followed by the party at the Peoria Civic Center from 11:30 am-3 pm. Parade winners will be announced at the party, and partygoers can enjoy traditional Irish music from the band Goiste.

Peoria St. Patrick's Day

There’s no shortage of festive floats at the Peoria parade! (Photo credit: St. Patrick’s Society of Peoria)

Rock Island

In Western Illinois, the Quad Cities go all out for St. Patrick’s Day. The weekend of festivities kicks off with Irish music from The Greenmore Irish Duo at the Moline Library on Friday, March 11 from 12-1 pm. The following day features the 31st annual Quad Cities Grand Parade at 11:30 am, named one of the top ten St. Patty’s parades in North America! What makes this parade so unique? It’s the only interstate St. Patrick’s Day parade in the nation.

After the parade, make your way to Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tap party for plenty of beer or take advantage of one of the 22 holiday specials in downtown Rock Island.

Rock Island St. Patrick's Day Parade 2

The Quad Cities parade draws thousands of spectators! (Photo credit: Visit Quad Cities)

Be sure to share your St. Patrick’s Day photos with us by tagging #EnjoyIllinois on social. For more ways to celebrate, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Feature Image NYE

From family-friendly to unique, there are so many wonderful ways to ring in 2016 in Illinois. New Year’s Eve is a chance to take stock of the previous year with an eye towards all the possibilities ahead. Whether you prefer a quiet, intimate atmosphere or a blowout – you’ll find a special celebration in the Land of Lincoln.

First Night Springfield
An Illinois tradition, this year’s First Night Springfield is the city’s 29th Annual New Year’s Eve Celebration of the Arts, featuring more than 30 performances taking place on eight stages in downtown Springfield.

The array of musical acts pauses at 8 p.m. for a free fireworks gala. A staple of First Night, the fireworks display bursts over the Illinois State Capitol, wondrously illuminating downtown.

Zoo Year’s Eve at Brookfield Zoo
Rock out where the wild things are this New Year’s at Brookfield Zoo. A live DJ, games, party favors, prizes and an early countdown at 8:00 p.m. headline this family friendly affair.

No need to keep the little ones up late with the 8 p.m. countdown! (Photo credit: Brookfield Zoo)

No need to keep the little ones up late with the 8 p.m. countdown! (Photo credit: Brookfield Zoo)

Before the countdown, head over to the Hamill Family Play Zoo to make your own noisemaker. This event is free with a paid zoo admission, so don’t forget to check out some of the big cats, bears, dolphins, penguins, primates and more!

New Year’s at Pere Marquette Lodge
This year, jettison yourself to a rustic setting in the quiet riverfront town of Grafton at Pere Marquette Lodge. The Lodge’s New Year’s package has everything you and that special someone need to welcome 2016!

Show off your cocktail attire and indulge in a lavish dinner before dancing the night away with a band, champagne toast and plenty of party favors. At the end of the night, you’re just an elevator ride from the comfort of your cozy accommodations.

Chi-Town Rising
For the first time, Chicago’s riverfront will play host to a special New Year’s celebration complete with musical headliners, a grand fireworks display and culminate with a countdown to ring in 2016.

Make way for a new Chicago tradition at Chi-Town Rising this New Year’s!

Make way for a new Chicago tradition at Chi-Town Rising this New Year’s!

Chi-Town Rising’s central location means the party continues all weekend long with plenty of activities throughout the city!

Whatever your plans, have a safe and happy New Year in Illinois.

-Illinois Office of Tourism