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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

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

Holiday Chicago Feature Image

What’s your family’s holiday tradition? If you’re looking for a new way to celebrate the festive time of year, plan a trip to Chicago. From endless shopping and festive parades, to the Chicago Transit Authority’s special Holiday Train, the Windy City is a holiday wonderland. Watch the video for a glimpse of Chicago during the holidays and then check out 10 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays in Chicago!

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

The nation’s largest evening holiday celebration features a full day of family-friendly activities on November 21, concerts by top musical artists and the best shopping. The excitement culminates with a grand evening parade down Michigan Avenue that illuminates one million lights on 200 trees!

Chicago Transit Authority’s Holiday Train

The Chicago Transit Authority decorates one of its trains, inside and out, with twinkling lights and festive decorations. As the holiday train pulls into each station, Santa waves to boarding passengers from his sleigh on an open-air flatcar while elves serenade riders between stops.

Christmas around the World and Holidays of Light

The Museum of Science and Industry’s Christmas Around the World & Holidays of Lights features 60 seasonal displays decorated by members of Chicago’s many ethnic communities. The annual celebration offers a glimpse into how cultures around the world celebrate the season. Make sure to stop by the museum between November 19 and January 3 to see the beautiful displays!

Ice Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink

Located in the heart of Millennium Park, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink offers family fun with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop starting November 13. Look out for special appearance on the ice by Santa Clause during the holiday season!

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

More than one million twinkling lights transform the Lincoln Park Zoo into a winter wonderland, complete with unique activities like live ice carvings and special holiday treats. In addition, visitors can take advantage of the zoo’s enchanting wildlife, with exhibits open late during ZooLights.

Daley Plaza’s Christkindlemarket

Christkindlmarket Chicago is an outdoor holiday market featuring vendors from around the world. Visitors can browse handcrafted ornaments, toys and unique holiday gifts, as well as enjoy traditional German foods, sweets and beverages November 20-December 24.

The Walnut Room at Macy’s

Since 1907, the Walnut Room at Macy’s has been decked out in holiday décor. The main focal point is the 45-foot Great Tree, which graces the center of the historic room from November through early January.

Caroling at Cloud Gate

Every Friday evening from November 28-December 19, local choral groups sing cherished Christmas tunes during Caroling at Cloud Gate. The event takes place in front of Millennium Park’s Cloud Gate sculpture and lasts about an hour.

“A Christmas Carol” at the Goodman Theatre

Charles Dickens’ timeless tale comes to life at the Goodman Theatre every holiday season. The production, now in its 38th season, is called one of the best holiday shows in the city. Celebrate this wonderful time of year by seeing this iconic show, November 14-December 27.

Wreathed Lions at the Art Institute of Chicago

One of the best holiday photo opportunities in the city is a picture in front of the wreathed bronze lions at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Michigan Avenue entrance.  The lions are not identical and thus are named for their poses: The south lion stands “In an Attitude of Defiance,” while the north lion is “On the Prowl.”

Have ideas that we missed? Comment below and share with us!

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Southern Illinois Fests

Southern Illinois is full of fun things to do with your family during the fall season. Whether it is a day at one of the many fall festivals or an outdoor adventure exploring the beautiful fall colors, there is no shortage of family friendly activities this season! Here are 10 fall activities on our list. What others do you recommend? Comment and tell us!

 Shawnee National Forest

Make a trip to Shawnee National Forest and Garden of the Gods  with family and friends to enjoy a relaxing stroll through nature or an exhilarating hike. Both are prime places to visit this season especially with the stunning fall colors.

Explore breathtaking fall views at The Garden of the Gods

Explore breathtaking fall views at The Garden of the Gods

Giant City State Park and Lodge

Looking for a day of outdoor adventure? Take your family on an unforgettable horseback riding excursion through Giant City State Park. After a fun day riding, be sure to visit Giant City Lodge for a delicious all-you-can-eat chicken dinner.

Bandy’s Pumpkin Patch

Find the perfect carving pumpkin at Bandy’s Pumpkin Patch in Johnson City from October 1-31. Before you choose your pumpkin, find your way through a corn maze or take a ride on a hayride.

Tunnel Hill State Trail

Take a bike ride along the 47.8 miles of Tunnel Hill State Trail to observe the beautiful views of bottomland woods, ponds, streams and marshes. Challenge yourself on this crushed gravel trail, or enjoy a leisurely ride with friends.

Race your bike along Tunnel Hill’s crushed gravel path

Race your bike along Tunnel Hill’s crushed gravel path

Rendleman Orchards Farm Market

Experience classic fall fun at Rendleman Orchards Farm Market in Alto Pass. Open September through December, swing by and pick up farm fresh apples while they’re in season.

Flamm Orchards/ Fruits & Cream Stand

Make a stop at the Flamm Orchards/Fruit & Cream Stand in Cobden for some delicious apples as well as many other tasty treats such as dumplings and pies.

Mt. Vernon Fall Festival

Enjoy a weekend of entertainment at the Mt. Vernon Fall Festival from October 17-19. The festival in downtown Mt. Vernon includes live music, a parade, children’s area, local food, car show, band competition and more.

Fort Massac Encampment

Experience what frontier prairie life was like in the late 1700s at the Fort Massac Encampment October 18-19 in Metropolis. You’ll see military drills, mock battles and enjoy period-style food.

Vulture Fest

Celebrate the vulture’s annual migration at downtown Makanda’s one-of-a-kind Vulture Fest from October 18-19. Your family will see black and turkey vultures soaring through the sky, listen to live music and browse the displays by local artists.

Great Carbondale Pumpkin Race

Nothing says fall like pumpkins, so what better way to celebrate fall than at the Great Carbondale Pumpkin Race this October 25- 26. Just add wheels to transform your pumpkin into a speed racer to compete against others for the top prize!

Build your own pumpkin racer at the Great Carbondale Pumpkin Race

Build your own pumpkin racer at the Great Carbondale Pumpkin Race

For more family-friendly activities in Southern Illinois, check out the Familyland trip starter or visit EnjoyIllinois.com for more travel ideas.

-The Illinois Office of Tourism