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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

Illinois Pets Feature Image

This week we asked our Instagram followers to share photos that featured their pets at Illinois attractions. 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.

5.29.16 - Matthiessen State Park (at) elayeyouareaye

We thought this photo at Matthiessen State Park by @elayeyyouareye was the perfect way to kick off this week’s “pets” challenge!

Grand Red Line (at) dogsdochicago

How cool is this picture? Rambo the dog is hanging out on the Red Line platform in Chicago! Thanks @dogsdochicago for sharing with us.

Starved Rock State Park (at) sauk_it_to_me

Ok, you lead the way! Thanks @sauk_it_to_me for this awesome shot at Starved Rock State Park! We hope you had fun exploring.

Isle a la Cache (at) animatedann

What better way to spend a beautiful day outside than with man’s best friend? Thanks @animatedann for this great shot!

Altovineyard champaign (at) altovineyardschampaign

We can’t forget about our feline friends! This shot from @Altovineyardchampaign is purrfect for this week’s challenge.

Northwestern University (at) shirleygirly5

This fuzzy pup is leading the way across Northwestern University’s campus! Thanks @shirleygirl5 for sharing.

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel (at) theecrazydoglady

We can’t wait to ride the new Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier and neither can they! (Photo: @theecrazydoglady)

Soldier Field (at) dogsdochicago

How cute is this picture? Well-deserved reward for an awesome pet! (Photo: @dogsdochicago)

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Bloom Feature Image

This week we asked our Instagram followers to share photos that surround the theme “bloom.” 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.

Cantigny Park - (at) ninababina77

To kick off our “bloom” challenge this week, we shared this beautiful photo taken in Cantigny Park by @ninababina77.

Geneva - (at) chrisburrichter

We can’t stop looking at the photos of #flowersonfargo. Loving all of them! (Photo by @chrisburrichter)

Cantigny Park in Wheaton - (at) chitown_vinnyd

Awesome photo taken at Cantigny Park in Wheaton by @chitown_vinnyd!

Chicago Botanic Garden - (at) c.kopeckyck1

We always love to see pictures of the beautiful flowers from the Chicago Botanic Garden! (Photo by @c.kopeckyck1)

Downers Grove - (at) eastgrovestampco

Loving the spring colors in Downers Grove! Awesome photo @eastgrovestampco!

Flowers on Fargo - (at) mollyko

Great capture by @mollyko in Geneva! Check out other photos from #flowersonfargo by searching the hashtag on Instagram.

Harms Woods - (at) marathonpundit

Great close up shot by @marathonpundit in Harms Woods!

Lake Forest - (at) katiegoingplaces

Daffodils are one of the classic spring flowers. Thanks for sharing this photo taken in Lake Forest @katiegoingplaces!

Legion Park - (at) i0nagirl

Instagramer @i0nagirl captured this colorful shot in Legion Park.

Long Grove - (at) igrex50

Nothing like a field of vibrant tulips to kick off spring! Thanks for sharing @igrex50.

Michigan Avenue - (at) stylemeetlife

You can find these purple and yellow tulips lining Michigan Avenue in Chicago! (Photo by @stylemeetlife)

St Charles - (at) michelefairall

How gorgeous is the light streaming through the blossoms on this tree? Thanks for sharing this shot from St. Charles @michelefairall!

University of Illinois - Champaign - (at) ilovekumihimo

Love the colors of these flowers taken at the University of Illinois by @ilovekumihimo!

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Spring Feature Image

This week we asked our Instagram followers to share photos that surround the theme “spring.” 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 post - (at) xchriswilsonx

To kick off our “spring” challenge this week, with we shared this awesome photo taken at Pilcher Park Nature Center in Joliet by @xchriswilsonx.

Lincoln Home National Historic Site - (at) azmangums

Wow, we love this beautiful shot captured at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. Thanks for sharing @azmangums!

Third Lake - (at) irishvikingdesigns

Beautiful photo of the sun setting over Third Lake by @irishvikingdesigns!

Wrigley Field - (at) nick_ulivieri

Is there a better representation of spring than the Chicago Cubs’ home opener at Wrigley Field? Great photo @nick_ulivieri!

Baha'i House of Worship - (at) ionu_t_z

What a beautiful photo of the Bahá’í House of Worship in Wilmette by @ionu_t_z! It fits our theme “spring” perfectly!

East Peoria Riverfront - (at) kjackson1991

Gorgeous close up of these spring blooms taken at East Peoria RiverFront by @kjackson1991!

Historic Rose Hotel - (at) lisacrashtestdummy62

The view at the historic Rose Hotel in Elizabethtown is nothing short of amazing. Great photo @lisacrashtestdummy62!

Pastel flowers - (at) photographicartbyaz

Loving the colors in this photo! Thanks for sharing @photographicartbyaz.

Maggie Daley Park - (at)memofilms

Maggie Daley Park is a great place to spend time all year round. Great photo @memofilms!

DeKalb - (at) allthingznew

We love when the sun is shining! Great photo taken in DeKalb by @allthingznew.

Edinburg - (at) renaissancemotleyman

Beautiful capture in Edinburg @renaissancemotleyman!

Apple River - (at) stoned_art_studio

Loving this shot of Apple River in the spring time! (Photo by @stoned_art_studio)

-Illinois Office of Tourism

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