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Festival Feature Image

Summer festival season is officially upon us! From carnivals and state fairs to music and food fests, Illinois knows how to celebrate sweet summertime. This week, we asked our Instagram followers to share photos of their favorite summer festivals across Illinois. 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.

7.18 Heart of Illinois Fair - (at) straublund

We started this week’s challenge with this thrilling photo of the Heart of Illinois Fair in Peoria. Thanks @straublund for the awesome shot!

+Glendale heights Summer Fest - (at) morsecodebecks

Our favorite part of a carnival is the carousel too! We love this shot of the Glendale Heights Summerfest by @morsecodebecks.

+Taste of Chicago - (at)psb_photos

We couldn’t miss a weekend of music, activities and Chicago’s best dining at the Taste of Chicago! Thanks for this cool photo @psb_photos.

+Vernon Hills Carnival - (at)chicagokiddieworld

So many rides! It’s a good thing the Vernon Hills Summer Celebration lasted all weekend so we could ride them all. (Photo by @chicagokiddieworld)

+NW IL Jazz Fest, Stockton - (at) stoned_art_studio

We can’t help but dance at the Northwest Illinois Jazz Fest in Stockton! Thanks @stoned_art_studio for the great photo.

+Heart of Illinois Fair 2- (at) svarttrost

This one isn’t for the faint of heart. Thanks for the exhilarating photo of the Heart of Illinois Fair @svarttrost!

+Young At Heart Festival (at)tyleryomantasphotography

What a ride! Thanks @tyleryomantasphotography for this awesome photo of the Young at Heart Festival in Loves Park.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

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Happy Fourth of July Weekend! It’s never too early to start celebrating, so we asked our Instagram followers to share photos themed red, white and blue across Illinois. 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.

+Navy Pier Fireworks (at) mynameisxela

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than watching fireworks? That’s why we kicked off this week’s challenge with this awesome photo of Navy Pier’s grand firework show. Thanks to @mynameisxela for this great photo!

+ Macy's Chicago (at)Kait.radke

What a great way to showcase the American flag! Thanks for the great picture of Macy’s in Chicago @kait.radke.

+Bloomington (at) selzermusic

Best part of Fourth of July cookouts? Desserts! These cake balls look delicious! Thanks @selzermusic for sharing.

+Bourbonnais Friendship Fest (at) josh.lundmark

The Ferris wheel at Bourbonnais Friendship Fest is all ready to celebrate Independence Day! Thanks @josh.lundmark for this awesome photo!

+Fox River Queen, St. Charles (at)yoga.gal

What a great idea to spend the Fourth of July on the Fox River Queen in St. Charles! Thanks for sharing @yoga.gal.png.

+Galena (at)longhollowcanopytours

Zip lining at Long Hollow Canopy Tours with the American flag, how much more freedom can you get in one picture? Thanks for sharing @longhollowcanopytours!

+Lake Forest (at) elawafarm

Look at those festive sprinkles! Thanks @elawafarm for the great photo!

+Riverside Illinois (at) riversideillinois

How cool is this American Flag from 1976? Thanks for sharing with us @riversideillinois!

+Rt. 66 (at) sauk_it_to_me

Even Route 66’s Lauterbach Muffler Man can’t wait to celebrate the Fourth of July! Thanks for this great photo @sauk_it_to_me!

+Crystal Lake (at)  j_r_petry

Red, white and blue stands out anywhere! Thanks @j_r_petry for sharing this photo of St. Charles!

-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

 

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

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.

131008_cherriesyellow-cherriesred-blueberries-157

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