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Farmers Market Feature Image

Summer is just around the corner, and that means farmers market season. All over the state, markets filled with locally sourced fruits, veggies, meats, pastries, cut flowers, artisan-made goods and more are opening their doors – or should we say tents? – for the season. We’ve rounded up four of the best in the state here:

Green City Market, Chicago

As one of Chicago’s top farmers markets, don’t be surprised if you see some of the city’s premier local chefs buying ingredients for their weekly menu at Green City Market. The outdoor market is open in Lincoln Park every Wednesday and Saturday from May through October offering a wide selection of local produce, flowers, meat, seafood, breads, pastries and more. Check out Green City Market’s website for information on live demonstrations from local chefs and ready-to-eat food vendors at the market. Open 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays May 7 –October 29.

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Photo credit: Green City Market

Market at the Square, Urbana

Looking for something outside the ordinary? Look no further than Urbana’s Market at the Square. As one of the largest and most diverse markets in the state, this unique farmers market has 170 vendors featuring arts and crafts, beer and wine, flowers, and locally-grown produce stemming from the richest farmland in the country. This Market also extends well beyond fresh produce – it offers entertainment from local musicians, kids activities with Sprouts at the Market, food trucks with doughnuts and fried egg sandwiches, and much more. Open 7 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturdays May 7-November 5.

Market Entrance

Photo credit: Visit Champaign

Old Capitol Farmers Market, Springfield

The Old Capitol Farmers Market can be found in the heart of downtown Springfield. You’ll find local farm and artisan vendors selling fresh produce, baked goods and cheeses, flowers, and more. The market is just steps from the Old State Capitol historic site and other sites like the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Lincoln Home and Dana-Thomas House – a Frank Lloyd Wright design! Open 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays May 13-October 31

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Photo credit: Visit Springfield

Rockford City Market, Rockford

Rockford City Market features local growers and vendors who sell natural products and unique retail items, live music, demonstrations and kids’ activities. The market is officially up and running as of May 20 and will be open through September. Open 3:30-8:30 p.m. Fridays May 20-September 2 and 3:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays September 9-30.

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Photo credit: Rockford City Market

Looking for more farm fresh ideas? It’s not just these markets that offer the freshest produce and local flavors. Illinois is home to a variety of farm-to-table dining experiences that you can enjoy this summer. Check out more on Travel Illinois online.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Indoor Activities for Kids Feature Image

With kids, we understand that there is no such thing as a “lazy day” while waiting for the weather to warm up. Check out this list of kid-friendly indoor activities!

American Girl Place

Shop, play and let your imagination run wild at the American Girl Place on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Stop by the Doll Hair Salon where American Girl dolls receive stylish new hairdos and a bit of pampering. Or, indulge in the Truly Me Signature Studio and customize a doll outfit or a personal backpack to take home. Complete your day with brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner at the American Girl Café, where there is always a special seat for your child’s American Girl doll.

LEGO Store

Just a short walk from American Girl Place, the LEGO store features a “Pick-A-Brick Wall”, where you can hand pick and purchase specific LEGO bricks to add to your family’s collection. If that isn’t cool enough, an interactive play area called the “Living Room” gives visitors a chance to get hands-on with the LEGO products with new, creative building scenarios each month.

LEGO store

The LEGO Store in Water Tower Place can entertain all with its LEGO pieces, buildings and games.

Indoor Water Parks

Outdoor water parks may not have opened yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in water park fun just yet. Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort and Enchanted Forest in Utica is the ultimate family getaway that is a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. Enjoy its 24,000 square foot indoor waterpark complete with slides, a lazy river, kiddie pool, wave pool, and even a spa that is located near Starved Rock National Park for a scenic view.

And don’t forget to visit KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort in Gurnee! The water park features a wave pool, whirlpools, body and tube slides, and waterfalls that will entertain adults and children alike. Had enough water for the day? KeyLime Cove also has 10,000 square feet of entertainment including the RipTide Reef Arcade, Pinki’s Pet Palace, and The Enchanted Lagoon Kids Spa.

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KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort boasts family fun with its various entertainment options.

DuPage Children’s Museum

Illinois is home to multiple children’s museums, and one of our favorites is the DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville. Whoever said that rainy days couldn’t be productive? This unique, hands-on museum offers an early educational experience where kids can learn and play in its multiple exhibits that promote skill development in math, science and art.

For more ideas, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-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.
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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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