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Trails to Adventure Light Festival Feature Image

The holiday season is just around the corner! From sipping hot cocoa with friends to taking pictures with Santa, Illinois hosts sparkling light festivals perfect for to experience with family and friends. Check out these five must-see light festivals in Central and Southern Illinois to make the most of this season!

East Peoria Festival of Lights and Folepi’s Winter Wonderland – November 23-January 1

With more than two million lights, East Peoria’s Festival of Lights and Wonderland is a mesmerizing display for visitors or all ages. The event kicks off November 21 with a three-mile Parade of Lights through downtown Peoria. The festival will crown a Lights Queen on November 15, conduct a citywide ornament hunt on November 25 and judge a Christmas splendor exterior decorating contest on December 8.

And for those looking to start the New Year on the right foot , sign up for East Peoria’s Get Lit New Year’s Eve Fun Run. This non-competitive and festive run starts at 11:50 p.m. on December 31, winding through Folepi’s Winter Wonderland and offering an exclusive view of the twinkling lights.

East Peoria Lights Festival 1

One of the vibrant displays at the East Peoria Festival of Lights.

Shelbyville Festival of Lights – November 20-January 2

Take a leisurely drive through Forest Park to see Shelbyville lit up in the holiday spirit. With new lights and themes every year, this festival of lights is a must-see this season. Families and couples are sure to enjoy the festive features including Victorian Village, Santa’s Shop, the North Pole and more.

Du Quoin Annual Holiday Lights Fair – November 25-December 31

For the holiday season, the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds get a festive makeover, transforming the grounds into a magical place of lights and decorations. Drive through  incredible lighted displays and decorated trees before enjoying live entertainment, delicious food and, of course, visits with Mr. Claus at Santa’s Train Ride and Workshop.

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows Way of Lights – November 20-January 1

Illuminating the already beautiful 200 acres of landscape, the Way of Lights festival at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville features fun and festive events such as a new Lego Display play area for children and Tails, Trails and Twinkles, a perfect occasion to share the shining lights alongside four-legged friends.

Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage to admire the twinkling lights at the Way of Lights!

Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage to admire the twinkling lights at the Way of Lights!

Fantasy of Lights – November 30-January 1

Fantasy of Lights in Centralia is perfect for families with kids or couples looking for a spirited night out. Guests can appreciate the lighted displays on a drive through Foundation Park to experience twinkling candy canes or golfing Santa. In December, the ‘Little Obie’ train offers free rides for children – and adults, too – to meet Santa.

For more ways to celebrate the holiday season, visit

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Expedia Feature Image

It might be frosty outside, or even snowing, but that’s no excuse to stay cooped up inside this winter. Regardless of the weather, there are adventures to be had from hotels in Springfield to state parks along the Illinois River, so that’s why turned to Enjoy Illinois. We wanted to know some of the best places to stay and play in the “Land of Lincoln” this winter, so we rounded up a list of accommodations and nearby activities that’ll keep you feeling warm and toasty.

Photo 1 and Enjoy Illinois teamed up to bring you top tips for embracing the chilly temperatures this winter.

Stay at The State House Inn and Glide Across the Ice
Cozy up at The State House Inn during your stay in Springfield. The hotel’s complimentary breakfast will fuel you up for the day’s adventures, while the pillow-top mattresses and duvet comforters will send you off to blissful sleep. The accommodation is just a few miles away from the Springfield Park District. As soon as the temperatures drop below freezing and the “no skating” signs disappear, break out the ice skates. The lagoons at Lincoln, Washington, and Southwind parks transform into outdoor skating rinks, so you can throw on your ski gloves and show off your Olympic-worthy axels.

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Carve Up the Slopes at Chestnut Mountain Resort
Pack your bags for a stay at Chestnut Mountain Resort, a ski-in, ski-out lodge, in Galena. This hotel invites you to warm up in the sauna, grab a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant, and beat the high score in the arcade game room. While you’re visiting, venture outside and carve up the fresh powder on the slopes, which are just feet away from the lodge. Boasting the largest terrain park in the Midwest, the ski resort features more than 25 rails and 19 runs. Pull some tricks and get some air on the ramps or shred down the black diamond trails.

Make a Splash at KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort
Invite your kids along for a getaway at KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort in Gurnee, north of Chicago. This hotel offers a little something for the whole family, with six in-house restaurants, an on-site spa, and even an arcade. Perhaps the best part of all, though, is that you can pretend it’s still summertime at the resort’s indoor waterpark. Swirl around the Hurricane Vortex, shoot through the 500 foot long waterslides, and float down KeyLime Creek. From the adult-only spa areas to the massive water play structure, this park is the answer to all your winter blues.

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Get Adventurous at Starved Rock Lodge & Conference
Stay in the heart of the great outdoors with reservations at Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center. Choose a room in the lodge or go for a cabin, and then sip hot cocoa at the Veranda with a view of the state park. The accommodation also features a café, lounge, and dining room, which are perfect for unwinding after exploring the local trails. During your visit, tap into your adventurous side, and ice climb the waterfalls in the state park. Climbers must sign in and out of the park office and bring their own equipment, though. If the conditions aren’t right for ice climbing, cross country ski in the picnic area, winter hike, or simply check out the frozen waterfalls.

Don’t let a little chill in the air keep you from venturing to Illinois this winter. You know what they say, “there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing,” so wrap up tight and get ready for a winter wonderland in the “Prairie State.”

-Written by Expedia Staff Writer

Land of Lincoln Feature Image

The Land of Lincoln is not just one of the most history-rich regions in Illinois, but in the entire country. Springfield alone is home to more Abraham Lincoln historical sites than any other place in the world, and beyond that, there are even more attractions where history buffs can soak up knowledge in Central Illinois. 

Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center

Celebrating the rich history of Litchfield, this museum gives visitors a look at the evolution of the culture, lifestyle and economy of America’s Heartland across several generations through the prism of one Midwestern town. Early agriculture, the growth of railroads, industrialization and Route 66 are all covered by this fascinating museum that just opened in 2012.

The Litchfield Museum highlights several eras of Illinois history.

The Litchfield Museum highlights several eras of Illinois history.

Route 66 Arcade Museum

 For a different kind of museum experience, head to Atlanta to see classic video games that date back to the 1930s, many of which are still playable! The interactive museum features more than 40 vintage pinball and arcade games, including the original PacMan game, and cost only a quarter for visitors to play.

MiniAbe tries his hand at a vintage game at the Route 66 Arcade Museum.

MiniAbe tries his hand at a vintage game at the Route 66 Arcade Museum.

Carlinville Historic District

 This historic downtown district features the “Million Dollar Courthouse,” a destination for artists and architects from all over the world, as well as the Macoupin County Jail, a medieval-looking fortress that has been open since 1869. The Macoupin County Historical Museum also houses exhibits and artifacts reflecting the history of the area in a beautiful two-story Victorian mansion.

The “Million Dollar” Courthouse in historic downtown Carlinville. (Photo courtesy of Instagramer (at) rmasters78)

The “Million Dollar” Courthouse in historic downtown Carlinville. (Photo courtesy of Instagramer (at) rmasters78)

The Original Steak’n’Shake

 Brush up on your diner history with a stop at the original Steak ‘n’ Shake at 1219 South Main Street in Normal. It still resembles a 50s-style diner and serves all the quintessential American fast food favorites: burgers, fries and milkshakes.

For more historical attractions across the state, check out for more trip ideas.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Historical Adventure Feature Image

Home to Abraham Lincoln, Americana and the birthplace of the corndog. History comes alive around every corner in Springfield, home to more Lincoln sites than anywhere else in the nation. Explore everything from Abe’s house and law offices to his must-see presidential museum. Route 66 makes its way through Springfield leaving behind plenty of Americana in the form of classic diners and kitschy roadside attractions.

Throughout Springfield there are historical sites with ties to Lincoln – enough to fill a multiple-day itinerary. Here are a few of our top recommendations.

The Lincoln Home

Get an intimate look at Lincoln during a tour of the Lincoln Home, the only house he ever owned. The Lincoln family lived here from 1844 until they left for Washington. The Lincoln Home is located in a historic four-block neighborhood that looks much as it did in the mid-1800s, complete with wooden sidewalks. A visitor center and restored neighboring homes display exhibits that tell the story of Lincoln’s time spent with his wife, children and friends in Springfield.

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Re-enactors at the Lincoln Home in Springfield.

Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices

This is the only remaining structure where Abraham Lincoln maintained working law offices. Lincoln and his final law partner, William Herndon, operated from the top floor of the building from 1843 to 1852. Filled with clutter and makeshift furniture, the offices draw a vivid picture of what a normal day was like for Lincoln and Herndon. Today the building includes a visitor center, federal courtrooms and attorney offices.

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The Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices in Springfield.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

This museum is one of the most-visited presidential museums in the nation where visitors can experience the entire Lincoln story under one roof, from Abe’s humble beginnings in an Indiana log cabin to his days as president in the White House. Be dazzled by two special effects theaters featuring historical ghosts and a Civil War battlefield, life-like vignettes that depict important moments in the president’s life, and artifacts that range from Lincoln’s stovepipe hat to an original copy of the Gettysburg Address.

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The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.

The Lincoln Tomb

The Tomb is the final resting place of President Lincoln, his wife and three of their four children. It was constructed between 1869-1874 in Springfield’s Oak Ridge Cemetery. Be sure to rub the nose of the bronze Lincoln bust at the entrance, which is said to bring good luck. Dogs are allowed on the site; they are not allowed inside the monument.

Lincoln Tomb

Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site is where Abe Lincoln was laid to rest.

Abraham Lincoln’s legacy extends far beyond Springfield with plenty of museums and historic sites throughout the state. See more of the Lincoln attractions in Illinois here.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Autumn has officially arrived in Illinois! From hiking under brightly colored forest canopy to getting lost in a winding corn maze, the new season offers plenty of new ways to experience the great outdoors. Check out these five ways to experience the great outdoors in Illinois’ Great Rivers Country this fall!

Drive the Great River Road—Fulton

There are few views more spectacular than the Great River Road’s bluffs in autumn. This scenic drive follows the mighty Mississippi River as it curves along the western edge of Illinois and meanders for more than 550 miles through charming small towns and woodland along the way. It’s the perfect fall road trip!

Brightly colored trees line the Great River Road in fall. (Photo courtesy of @VisitAlton on Instagram)

Brightly colored trees line the Great River Road in fall. (Photo courtesy of @VisitAlton on Instagram)

Bike the Grand Illinois Trail—Atkinson

Outdoor adventurers will love biking under stunning forest canopy along the Grand Illinois Trail this fall. The trail boasts 535 miles of tree lined pathways stretching from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, then looping back along the Illinois River and Hennepin Canal. It’s the perfect opportunity to experience the great outdoors during its most magnificent season.

Cruise downriver with the Spirit of Peoria—Peoria

Take in the crisp autumn air while cruising on the Spirit of Peoria, an old-fashioned replica of a 19th-century riverboat, which docks at the Peoria RiverFront. Visitors will be entertained by live ragtime piano and banjo music while gazing at the colorful leaves lining the Illinois River.

Outdoor adventurers will love this cruise down the Illinois River. (Photo by Instagramer @murraystate21)

Outdoor adventurers will love this cruise down the Illinois River. (Photo by Instagramer @murraystate21)

Hike Pere Marquette State Park—Grafton  

At 8,000 acres, Pere Marquette State Park is the largest state park in Illinois, making it one of the most magnificent displays of fall colors in the state. Grafton visitors will love guided fall tours that overlook the convergence of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers.

Instagramer @jarzuagas loved hiking through this leafy forest.

Instagramer @jarzuagas loved hiking through this leafy forest.

Explore the Great Godfrey Maze—Godfrey  

What better way to explore the great outdoors than adventuring through a seven-acre corn maze? The Great Godfrey Maze features two separate mazes, allowing family and friends to race against one another. Godfrey Maze visitors can also cruise the farm by train, and even zip line through this vast outdoor playground!

Exploring the Great Godfrey Maze is the perfect way to spend an autumn afternoon.

Exploring the Great Godfrey Maze is the perfect way to spend an autumn afternoon.

For more Illinois trip ideas to celebrate the beauty of fall, visit

–Illinois Office of Tourism