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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

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This week we challenged our Instagram followers capture “leading lines” from around Illinois to share with us. Leading lines are lines within an image that lead the viewer’s eye to another point in the image. Check out a few of our favorites below! Be sure to follow us on Instagram for more weekly challenges. Share your best photos with us by tagging #EnjoyIllinois and your photo could be featured next week!

For more unique Illinois destinations, events and attractions check out


Instagramer @_dannyphoto_ took this amazing “leading lines” capture.


Snowy Southern Illinois capture by Instagramer @zacheisenhauer.

nvahey- lake street

We love this photo of the Chicago CTA tracks by Instagramer @nvahey. Thanks for sharing!

edsonsoares- Chicago street

The tracks above and its shadow below lead your eye to the center of the photo! Photo: @edsonsoares


Snowy train tracks in Lemont. Picture by @jenhawleyprice.

jcstales- Evanston Hospital

How cool is this photo of Evanston Hospital by Instagramer @jcstales?


Great capture leading to the Trump Tower in Chicago! Photo: @jess.adrienne

smooth_jb - Lyric Opera of Chicago

Unique twist to our “leading lines” challenge by Instagramer @smooth_jb.

-The Illinois Office of Tourism


When was the last time you embarked on a road trip through Illinois? This week we challenged our Instagram followers to share their best photos of roads. A few of our favorite submissions appear below. Be sure to follow us on  Instagram for more weekly challenges. Share your best photos with us and make sure you tag #EnjoyIllinois. Your photos could be featured next week!

For more unique Illinois destinations, events, and attractions check out


We absolutely love this wintery road captured by Instagramer @ekpendds!

anjoaguilar- Wabash

Photo captured of Wabash Ave in Chicago by @anjoaguilar.

thephillawson- st. charles road

Instagramer @thephillawson shared this photo of a gorgeous St. Charles sunset.


Awesome capture by Instagramer @skateorialist!


Night time drive by Instagramer @stachegrant.


Doesn’t this photo make you want to explore all of what Illinois has to offer? Photo: @timhagley.

tparisot- starved rock

Instagramer @tparisot embarks on a journey to Starved Rock!

– Illinois Office of Tourism


Bishop Hill pops with orange hues during the fall

Bishop Hill pops with orange hues during the fall

Fall colors are really starting to pop throughout the state! Beautiful vistas are sporting spectaculars hues that can only mean autumn in Illinois. Be sure to check our blog each week throughout the season for updates on where to see the best colors and for the latest on fall festivals, attractions and events. Here’s what you can expect to see this week:


Along the Mississippi River bluffs in Great Rivers Country, you can see oaks turning lovely shades of reds and oranges. The hickory and aspen are turning golden yellow-orange, while the ash and hackberry are now pure yellow. Dogwoods and sumac by the roadsides are a lush burgundy and you’ll see more yellow color among the walnuts, green ash, and hickory trees.


Trails to Adventure sweet gums are showing more reds and yellows. Meanwhile, the sassafras is a bright yellow and the white ash is showing both yellow and purple color. Dogwoods are starting to show some striking crimson coloring while the maple leaves and ash are various shades of yellow. It won’t be long before we see some colors on the sumacs, but their greens remain for now!


A few early maples scattered in the Chicago & Beyond region have begun to sport yellow and red shades. The dogwoods are starting to turn a purplish red color and are easily seen at the woodland edges. There is still a lot of yellow flowering on the goldenrod, while redbud trees have started turning a very nice yellow along with the black walnut trees.

Starved Rock, Utica is one of the many places across Illinois that houses beautiful fall color during autumn. Photo Credit: Michael Seroni

Starved Rock, Utica is one of the many places across Illinois that houses beautiful fall color during autumn. Photo Credit: Michael Seroni


Color changes in the Land of Lincoln are picking up steam! The white ash are turning purple and the green ash are now gold. Sassafras, hickory, mulberry, persimmon and sugar maple are quickly joining in with yellows and oranges. Sumacs and dogwoods on forest edges are showing reds while sweet gums are producing deep purple with some flourishes of orange and yellow.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Want to get away this summer, but don’t know where to begin? Perhaps you’ll get inspired by the photos Serdar Ozturk (@Trashhand) and Elise Swopes (@Swopes) captured on their trip through Illinois.

Together, they embarked on an epic outdoor adventure over the course of four days, visiting Alton, Peoria and Shawnee National Forest. Here’s what they had to say about their favorite and most surprising parts of the trip!

Q: Out of all the stops you visited on your outdoor adventure in Illinois, what stands out as most memorable and why?

Elise Swopes: The most memorable stop was the zip-lining because while we were on the 5th out of 8 zips, it started raining like crazy and we had to stop and hide under some bluffs. It was totally adventurous and fun.

Serdar Ozturk: My favorite stop in our trip across Illinois was when we went zip-lining. You went from tree to tree resting on different platforms high above the ground. We got caught in a heavy rainstorm too in the middle of the runs which turned the zip-lining to a real adventure.

Elise Swopes zip-lining through southern Illinois with Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour. Photo by Serdar Ozturk (@trashhand)

Elise Swopes zip-lining through southern Illinois with Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour. Photo by Serdar Ozturk (@trashhand)

Q: Which attraction or location surprised you the most and why?

Elise Swopes: This famous restaurant called “Fast Eddie’s Bon Air” was in the middle of nowhere. We walked inside and noticed more than 400 people inside with a line of at least 50 people. They had kept their prices from when they opened many years ago, which were really cheap and they had one rule: No takeout.

Serdar Ozturk: Pomona Natural Bridge definitely surprised me the most. I wasn’t expecting to see this “bridge” that spanned 90 feet made out of sandstone from millions of years of erosion. I felt like I was in the Amazon at that point. 

Pomona natural Bridge Trashhand

Pomona Natural Bridge in Pomona. Photo by Serdar Ozturk (@trashhand)

Q: Did you realize there were so many outdoor adventures in Illinois?

Elise Swopes: I had done some research in the past about some of the places that are in Illinois and not until now did I realize how massive some parts really are. You really have to see it yourself.

Serdar Ozturk: Nope!

Q: What is one word you’d use to describe your trip?

 Elise Swopes: Epic.

Serdar Ozturk: Adventure.

Hot air balloon ride near Peoria. Photo by Serdar Ozturk (@trashhand)

Hot air balloon ride near Peoria. Photo by Serdar Ozturk (@trashhand)

Q: What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone who wanted to plan an outdoor adventure trip in Illinois?

Elise Swopes: You have to have directions planned out ahead of time or you will be totally lost. We had little to no cell service in many, many places. It’s best to bring up directions and a map on your phone while you have service because even if you lose cell service, if you bring it up ahead of time, it will still follow those directions when you lose service.

Serdar Ozturk: I would tell them to make sure and visit Garden of the Gods for a landscape view and head to Fast Eddie’s for the best American lunch in their life. I can still taste Fast Eddie’s chicken and burgers…

A beautiful Saturday sunrise near Peoria. Photo by Elise Swopes (@swopes)

A beautiful Saturday sunrise near Peoria. Photo by Elise Swopes (@swopes)

Q: What destination do you think was the most beautiful and why?

Elise Swopes: The most beautiful destination was the Garden of Gods in Shawnee National Forest. The formations of the trees and rocks were absolutely insane.

Serdar Ozturk: Garden of the Gods was something else… Amazing to see and know that Illinois is not that flat.

Garden Trashhand

The picturesque Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest. Photo by Serdar Ozturk (@trashhand)

Q: What is your favorite photo from the trip?

Elise Swopes: My favorite photo was a sunset in Cobden. It’s definitely realistic to think the sunsets and sunrises are far more epic the more south you go from the city.

Serdar Ozturk: The photo I took of Elise zip-lining through the forest while it was pouring rain.

A sunset in Cobden. Photo by Elise Swopes (@swopes)

A sunset in Cobden. Photo by Elise Swopes (@swopes)

Q: Where did you eat your favorite meal during the trip? What did you order?

Elise Swopes: Wow, honestly, every single restaurant had their own amazing thing about them but I have to give it to Fast Eddie’s Bon Air. I ordered the chicken stix, a cheeseburger and fries. Seriously the most delicious thing I have ever eaten and it was so simple.

Serdar Ozturk: Fast Eddie’s. Best lunch I’ve had in years!

The Clark Bridge, a must-see in Alton. Photo by Serdar Ozturk (@trashhand)

The Clark Bridge, a must-see in Alton. Photo by Serdar Ozturk (@trashhand)

Q: Anything else you’d want to share about experiencing the great outdoors in Illinois?

Elise Swopes: Illinois is one of the most beautiful states in this country and not only because of the things that are visible to the eye but the kindness of all the people we encountered. The positivity and support we were given by the many people we had met on our journey was something that can never be bought! Illinois is all about family and respect… and I respect that.

Serdar Ozturk: Whatever you think you know about Illinois is wrong. This state will surprise you over and over as it did for me.


Peoria Cruise Swopes

Captured while on a river cruise on the Spirit of Peoria. Photo by Elise Swopes (@swopes)

Thanks to our partners for making this trip possible, including Peoria Area Convention and Visitors BureauPeoria Marriott Pere MarquetteAll Around AltonHoliday InnSouthernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau and Rustle Hill Cabins.

Want to follow in our Mile Markers’ footsteps? Click on the below links and travel the map!

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Peoria’s Grandview Drive

Wildlife Prairie Park

Peoria Riverfront

Midwest Balloon Ride

One World Café


Fast Eddie’s Bon Air

Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower

Melvin Price Locks & Dam

Pere Marquette State Park

Tony’s Restaurant

Clark Bridge

Shawnee National Forest:

Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour

Garden of the Gods

Blue Sky Vineyard

Giant City State Park

Pomona Natural Bridge

Rustle Hill Winery

Giant City Lodge