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Did you know more than 44 million people visit Illinois’ State Parks each year? That’s a lot of outdoor activity!  This week, we asked our Instagram followers to share their favorite photos of State Parks. Check out a few of our favorite shots below and 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.

8.22 Pere Marquette State Park - (at) benkettelkamp96

Now this is the way to spend summer days. We kicked off this week’s challenge with this shot of Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton from @benkettelkamp96.

Mississippi Palisades State Park - (at) cyndydehmer

It doesn’t get better than this. Hiking through Mississippi Palisades State Park gives you incredible river views over the tree tops. (Photo: @cyndydehmer)

Matthiessen State Park - (at) tashka87

We can’t get enough of this stunning shot of Matthiessen State Park. Thanks @tashka87 for sharing this with us.

Pomona Natural Bridge - (at) gcarlosz

Have you seen the Pomona Natural Bridge? This incredible 90-foot-long sandstone bridge is inside Shawnee National Forest. It may not be a State Park, but it’s too amazing to leave out! (Photo: @gcarlosz)

Lovers Leap - (at) itsrhee360

Legend has it that Lovers Leap at Starved Rock State Park is where two people of opposing Indian tribes died together. (Photo: @itsrhee360)

Starved Rock - (at) brandonhollerphotography

The waterfalls are one of the most amazing parts of Starved Rock State Park. And in the winter, they freeze over! (Photo: @brandonhollerphotography)

Ferne Clyffe State Park - (at) nancyrmckay

Big thank you to @nancyrmckay for sharing this shot from Ferne Clyffe State Park in Southern Illinois!

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Water Activities Feature Image

During these dog days of summer, you need somewhere to cool off. With Illinois’ multiple lakes, beaches and pools, it’s easy to splash in and enjoy sweet summertime. This week, we asked our Instagram followers to share photos of how they enjoy water 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.

+Chicago River - (at) urbankayaks

We started the week off with this refreshing photo of kayakers on the Chicago River. Definitely added to the bucket list – thanks @urbankayaks for sharing.

+The Quarry Cable Park and Grille-(at) shredthequarry

Hold on tight! Wakeboarding is a summer favorite on Illinois’ lakes. Big thanks to @shredthequarry for this awesome photo on Crystal Lake.

+Mississippi River - (at) wildatheart_green

We can’t wait to ride the American Queen along the Mississippi River. Instagram user @wildatheart_green captured this photo taken in Alton.

+Fox River - (at) bodtke2

Even this family of ducks on Fox River is enjoying the summer waves. Thanks @bodtke2 for this cool photo.

+Chicago - (at) i.am.piculiar

On a hot summer day in the city, there’s nothing like a cool fountain to splash in. Instagram user @i.am.piculiar captured this fun photo in Chicago.

+Lake Charles Park - (at) joe_s313

A bike ride along Lake Charles Park sounds like the perfect summer afternoon. Thanks @joe_s313 for the sunny photo!

+Blackwell Forest Preserve - (at) meaghan_nelson

Blackwell Forest Preserve has so many options for a fun day in the water, like this shot of the canoes that @meaghan_nelson captured.

-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

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