Category Archives: Food & Drink

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Spring Break Feature Image

Dreaming of spring already? It may be winter now, but soon the weather will be turning and spring will be on its way. If you’re looking to plan a spring break getaway, check out these three trip ideas in Central Illinois!

For the road tripper:

Roll down the windows and turn up the radio for a cruise on the open road this spring. Illinois Route 66 is the perfect road trip for anyone looking to discover the quirky and nostalgic age of the Mother Road. Start in Chicago and make you way 300 miles across the state stopping for photo ops at these cities in Central Illinois:

Pontiac Illinois- Route 66 Mural

The Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum is home to a mural of the largest Route 66 shield in the world!

For the foodie:

Eat to live or live to eat? If you answered the latter, then plan a spring break trip to visit some of the incredible restaurants the Land of Lincoln has to offer!

  • For craft beer lovers, look no further than Blind Pig Brewery in Champaign for local brews, delicious food and a great outdoor patio.
  • Firefly Grill in Effingham is known for its fresh American cuisine made from local and seasonal ingredients.
  • Seasonal beer, classic pub grub and an outdoor bocce garden make Obed & Isaac’s in Springfield a must-visit spot.
  • Stop by Epiphany Farms in Bloomington for a “farm-to-fork” experience you won’t soon forget.
sunset shot

The Firefly Grill is a can’t-miss farm-to-table experience.

For the outdoor lover:

If you love all things nature, soak in the spring weather with an outdoor adventure at one of the many beautiful parks and gardens in Illinois.

  • Explore 1,500 acres of woodlands, formal gardens and more than 100 sculptures at Allerton Park & Retreat Center in Monticello, formerly the private estate of Robert Henry Allerton.
  • Luthy Botanical Gardens in Peoria is home to a tropical conservatory as well as several themed gardens, including an herb garden, woodland garden, children’s garden and more.
  • Experience a variety of gardens and native plants at the University of Illinois Arboretum in Urbana and welcome spring with a stroll through the Sen Cherry Tree Allee, where cherry tree blossoms form a pink canopy of flowers overhead.
University of Illinois Arboretum 2

The University of Illinois Arboretum makes for the perfect spring space to explore.

For more spring break trip ideas, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Bloomington Getaway Feature Image

Kick off 2016 and beat cabin fever by treating that special someone to a romantic weekend away. The city of Bloomington offers you and your loved one a getaway with big historical charm and a small town feel.

Check out some of the top places to stay, cultural landmarks to see, unique restaurants to visit and perfect date night activities here!

Vrooman Mansion Bed & Breakfast

With a charming history dating back to 1869, the Vrooman Mansion is a luxurious bed and breakfast nestled in the heart of Bloomington. Under the legacy of Julia and Carl Vrooman, the mansion was used for social gatherings for the couple’s friends, including political figures like President and Mrs. Wilson, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, among others. Today, this lavish estate offers visitors the chance to experience a powerful part of history.

Vrooman Mansion - (at) acschultz86

The Vrooman Mansion allows guests to explore the fine restaurants, shops, and attractions of Central Illinois while providing a welcoming and comfortable home base. (Photo by Instagramer (at) aschultz86)

Epiphany Farms Restaurant

Dine like a local at Epiphany Farms Restaurant, a dining experience committed to a “Farm to Fork” concept. This Bloomington favorite offers seasonal dinner menus and creates signature dishes and drinks with handpicked ingredients straight from their farm, ensuring your date night dinner is both fresh and delicious.

Epiphany Farms - (at) leah_horcher

Instagramer (at) leah_horcher captured this yummy shot of Blackberry panna cotta, honey-yogurt, almond florentine, fresh blueberry, mint and mochi.

David Davis Mansion

A weekend away in Bloomington wouldn’t be the same without a visit to the David Davis Mansion, a Victorian home that tells the story of the generation that led United States through the Civil War and Reconstruction. Home to Judge David Davis, mentor and campaign manager to Abraham Lincoln, this must-see historical landmark boasts 36 lavishly decorated rooms and a peek into Davis’ role in Honest Abe’s legal and political career.

David Davis Mansion - (at) ctbruni

Completed in 187, the David Davis Mansion combines Italiante and Second Empire architectural features. (Photo by Instagramer (at) ctbruni)

Illinois Symphony Orchestra

You don’t need to visit a big city to see a critically-acclaimed musical show. Grab tickets for you and your partner to enjoy the diverse repertoire of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra to complete a romantic weekend away in Bloomington.

Illinois Symphony Orchestra

Celebrating its 23rd season, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra performs at several local venues, including the Second Presbyterian Church and Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts. (Photo Courtesy of Illinois Symphony Orchestra)

For more romantic getaway inspiration, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Breweries Beyond Chicago Feature Image

Chicago was recently crowned the craft-brew capital of the U.S., but it isn’t the only place in the region to grab a local pint and relax. Check out these top-rated breweries that are just a hop, skip and a jump – or train ride – from the city.

Two Brothers Brewing Company & Tap House, Warrenville

This 100 percent family owned and operated microbrewery and brewpub has been handcrafting its artisan beers since 1997. Located in the western suburbs of Chicago, this 40,000 square foot facility offers free brewery tours on the weekend where patrons can see the magic happen and snag a sample or two of their favorite craft beer. Don’t forget to stop by the Two Brothers Tap House adjacent to the brewery for a quick lunch before or after the tour.

Solemn Oath Brewery, Naperville

Solemn Oath 1

Check out the wide selection of Belgian-inspired and barrel-aged beers! (Photo courtesy of Solemn Oath Brewery)

Solemn Oath Brewery in Naperville offers Belgian-inspired and barrel-aged beers with a free glimpse of how the suds are made. Separated by only a half-wall, the taproom at the Solemn Oath gives visitors a full display of the brewery and a chance to experience all of the sights, sounds and smells of the brewing process while enjoying a flight from their latest beer list. This menu changes frequently, so be sure to order a growler to bring home if you find a favorite.

Carlyle Brewing Company, Rockford

 The Rockford Region’s premiere microbrewery has something for everyone, with 10 to 12 styles of ales and lagers on tap at any time and more than 30 styles of beer brewed onsite throughout the year. This European-style ale house offers a variety of fresh-brewed beer to sample and fun, pub-style foods, making it a perfect stop to sip on a cold beer and relax.

NEW: Alter Brewing Company, Downers Grove

Alter Brewing Company 2

New to Downers Grove is Alter Brewing Company! (Photo courtesy of Alter Brewing Company)

The latest to join the craft beer movement in the Chicago suburbs is Alter Brewing Company located in Downers Grove. It’s founded by three longtime brewers from Chicago’s north side who have been perfecting their brewing technique since 1992. Now, the newly-opened 6,600 square foot taproom and brewing facility will offer continually produced beers, as well as seasonal and limited release selections.

For more places to raise a glass outside Chicago, visit www.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

Tasty Feature Image

Just in time for Thanksgiving, we asked our Instagram followers to share photos that surround the theme “tasty” this week. 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.

Kickoff photo - Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket - (at) nathanmichael

We kicked off this week’s food-focused challenge with a shot of Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket in Willowbrook, along Route 66, from Illinois Mile Marker @nathanmichael.

Pandamonium Doughnuts - (at) pandadoughnutcu

This birthday cake doughnut from Pandamonium Doughnuts in Champaign-Urbana looks both festive and delicious! (Photo: @pandadoughnutcu)

Eataly Chicago (at) look4magic

We love this shot of the endless selection of cheese at Eataly in Chicago from @look4magic!

Frank's Karma Cafe (at) wauconda.il

How awesome is this delicious looking apple pie from Frank’s Karma Café in Wauconda? (Photo: @wauconda.il)

Riverside Smokehouse - (at) thedistrictquincy

This tasty BBQ spread from Riverside Smokehouse in Quincy was taken by @thedistrictquincy.

-Illinois Office of Tourism