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Indoor Activities for Kids Feature Image

With kids, we understand that there is no such thing as a “lazy day” while waiting for the weather to warm up. Check out this list of kid-friendly indoor activities!

American Girl Place

Shop, play and let your imagination run wild at the American Girl Place on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Stop by the Doll Hair Salon where American Girl dolls receive stylish new hairdos and a bit of pampering. Or, indulge in the Truly Me Signature Studio and customize a doll outfit or a personal backpack to take home. Complete your day with brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner at the American Girl Café, where there is always a special seat for your child’s American Girl doll.

LEGO Store

Just a short walk from American Girl Place, the LEGO store features a “Pick-A-Brick Wall”, where you can hand pick and purchase specific LEGO bricks to add to your family’s collection. If that isn’t cool enough, an interactive play area called the “Living Room” gives visitors a chance to get hands-on with the LEGO products with new, creative building scenarios each month.

LEGO store

The LEGO Store in Water Tower Place can entertain all with its LEGO pieces, buildings and games.

Indoor Water Parks

Outdoor water parks may not have opened yet, but that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in water park fun just yet. Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort and Enchanted Forest in Utica is the ultimate family getaway that is a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure. Enjoy its 24,000 square foot indoor waterpark complete with slides, a lazy river, kiddie pool, wave pool, and even a spa that is located near Starved Rock National Park for a scenic view.

And don’t forget to visit KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort in Gurnee! The water park features a wave pool, whirlpools, body and tube slides, and waterfalls that will entertain adults and children alike. Had enough water for the day? KeyLime Cove also has 10,000 square feet of entertainment including the RipTide Reef Arcade, Pinki’s Pet Palace, and The Enchanted Lagoon Kids Spa.

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KeyLime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort boasts family fun with its various entertainment options.

DuPage Children’s Museum

Illinois is home to multiple children’s museums, and one of our favorites is the DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville. Whoever said that rainy days couldn’t be productive? This unique, hands-on museum offers an early educational experience where kids can learn and play in its multiple exhibits that promote skill development in math, science and art.

For more ideas, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-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

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

Winter Getaway in Shawnee NF  Feature Image

With more than 280,000 acres of diverse landscapes and 403 miles of hiking trails, the Shawnee National Forest is a perfect destination for a weekend away with friends or a romantic getaway with that special someone. In the cooler months, this must-see location offers adventure seekers and nature lovers a new, more intimate perspective of the beautiful, wintery outdoors of Southern Illinois.

From the rustic tree houses to stay in and the unparalleled outdoor adventures, here are the top attractions for a weekend getaway in the Shawnee National Forest:

Little Grand Canyon Trail
Take an exploratory hike for a break from the holiday frenzy. Feel the crunch of the crisp leaves beneath your feet as you travel along the 3.6-mile trail through rock walls, eroded sandstone canyons and craggy bluffs as you meander to the Little Grand Canyon itself. The Little Grand Canyon offers a 365-foot climb from the canyon floor and a panoramic view of the Big Muddy River and the Mississippi floodplain.

Instagramer (at) sarahdesign01 captured this amazing shot on a winter hike through the Little Grand Canyon Trail!

Instagramer (at) sarahdesign01 captured this amazing shot on a winter hike through the Little Grand Canyon Trail!

Garden of the Gods
No trip to Shawnee National Forest would be complete without a scenic hike to the Garden of Gods. With fewer leaves, the cooler months expose the dramatic rock formations and highlight the textured cliffs, offering a unique perspective of the forest. The breathtaking view from Garden of the Gods makes for the perfect destination for photographers and hikers.

Instagramer (at) theroadandandrew captured this amazing shot of the trees dusted in snow against the protruding bluffs.

Instagramer (at) theroadandandrew captured this amazing shot of the trees dusted in snow against the protruding bluffs.

Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour
Thrill seekers can elevate their weekend by soaring through the Shawnee National Forest on a Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour. Open Saturday and Sunday from December to March, you can experience the beauty of the wintery forest by zipping through its exposed bluffs and valleys.

Fly through the terrain of the Shawnee National Forest on a tour of eight zip lines and three aerial suspension bridges. (Photo courtesy of Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour)

Fly through the terrain of the Shawnee National Forest on a tour of eight zip lines and three aerial suspension bridges. (Photo courtesy of Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour)

Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins
After a day of adventure, get cozy in an authentic log cabin or a unique treehouse nestled in the hills of the Shawnee National Forest. Surrounded by the beautiful woods, enjoy taking in the tranquility of being off the beaten path. Open year round and supplied with heat, there’s no reason not to enjoy the winter season outdoors.

This White Oak Treehouse was built from a 200+ year old White Oak and sits 20 feet in the air.

This White Oak Treehouse was built from a 200+ year old White Oak and sits 20 feet in the air.

For more trip inspiration, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

UK FAM Trip Feature Image

This March, three travel writers from the United Kingdom hopped across the pond and landed in Illinois. They spent an entire week in the Land of Lincoln and had a blast exploring Chicago, Utica, Galena and Rockford. Check out a few photos these international writers took of their Illinois adventures below!

Chicago

 

travelsofadam Skydeck Chicago 3-27

U.K. blogger Adam Groffman of “Travels of Adam” loved the view from The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago! (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

travelsofadam Odyssey Cruises Chicago 3-29

International visitors ate a phenomenal dinner aboard the Odyssey Cruise in Chicago. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

Kira Agass_Lou Mitchell's

Writer Kira Agass loved the classic American diner breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago. (Photo: (at) KiraAgass via Twitter)

Utica

storyofagirl89 Starved Rock 3-29

Blogger Sophie Warner of “Story of a Girl Who Lives Above Her Means” loved discovering the canyons and waterfalls at Starved Rock State Park in Utica. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)

Galena

travelsofadam Farmer's Guest House 3-30

The Farmer’s Guest House was home for the group during their stay in Galena. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

travelsofadam Horseshoe Mound 3-30

These U.K. bloggers were impressed by Galena’s natural beauty at Horseshoe Mound. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

travelsofadam Mississippi River 3-30.ong

Adam was blown away by the view of the Mississippi River from Goldmoor Inn. (Instagram photo: (at) travelsofadam)

storyofagirl89 Galena Historic District 3-31

Sophie snapped this picture of the shops in historic downtown Galena. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)

Rockford

storyofagirl89 Midway Village 4-1

These international journalists went back to grade school at Midway Village Museum in Rockford. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)

storyofagirl89 Corondo Theatre 4-2

Sophie enjoyed touring Rockford’s Coronado Theatre. (Instagram photo: (at) storyofagirl89)

For more unique Illinois destinations, events and attractions check out EnjoyIllinois.com.

— The Illinois Office of Tourism