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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

Land of Lincoln Feature Image

The Land of Lincoln is not just one of the most history-rich regions in Illinois, but in the entire country. Springfield alone is home to more Abraham Lincoln historical sites than any other place in the world, and beyond that, there are even more attractions where history buffs can soak up knowledge in Central Illinois. 

Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center

Celebrating the rich history of Litchfield, this museum gives visitors a look at the evolution of the culture, lifestyle and economy of America’s Heartland across several generations through the prism of one Midwestern town. Early agriculture, the growth of railroads, industrialization and Route 66 are all covered by this fascinating museum that just opened in 2012.

The Litchfield Museum highlights several eras of Illinois history.

The Litchfield Museum highlights several eras of Illinois history.

Route 66 Arcade Museum

 For a different kind of museum experience, head to Atlanta to see classic video games that date back to the 1930s, many of which are still playable! The interactive museum features more than 40 vintage pinball and arcade games, including the original PacMan game, and cost only a quarter for visitors to play.

MiniAbe tries his hand at a vintage game at the Route 66 Arcade Museum.

MiniAbe tries his hand at a vintage game at the Route 66 Arcade Museum.

Carlinville Historic District

 This historic downtown district features the “Million Dollar Courthouse,” a destination for artists and architects from all over the world, as well as the Macoupin County Jail, a medieval-looking fortress that has been open since 1869. The Macoupin County Historical Museum also houses exhibits and artifacts reflecting the history of the area in a beautiful two-story Victorian mansion.

The “Million Dollar” Courthouse in historic downtown Carlinville. (Photo courtesy of Instagramer (at) rmasters78)

The “Million Dollar” Courthouse in historic downtown Carlinville. (Photo courtesy of Instagramer (at) rmasters78)

The Original Steak’n’Shake

 Brush up on your diner history with a stop at the original Steak ‘n’ Shake at 1219 South Main Street in Normal. It still resembles a 50s-style diner and serves all the quintessential American fast food favorites: burgers, fries and milkshakes.

For more historical attractions across the state, check out EnjoyIllinois.com for more trip ideas.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Cutting through Illinois is a 300-mile stretch of Route 66 that still captures the imaginations of travelers from around the world. The midway point of Route 66 in Illinois is the state capital, Springfield – home to a variety of museums, roadside attractions, diners and more, all bursting with the nostalgia of the Mother Road’s golden age.

The Annual International Route 66 Mother Road Festival in Springfield pays homage to all that the road has to offer, including classic cars, drive-in movies, quirky roadside attractions and diners. Taking place September 25-27 this year, the fun-filled event features more than 1,100 automobiles and expects more than 85,000 spectators to converge on historic downtown Springfield.

The International Annual Route 66 Mother Road Festival is an event that draws visitors from all over each year!

The International Annual Route 66 Mother Road Festival is an event that draws visitors from all over each year!

While exploring Route 66 history in Springfield, travelers must visit the birthplace of the battered, fried, hot dog on a stick that most people call a corn dog today. Springfield’s Cozy Dog Drive In is the home of the hot dog on a stick phenomenon – and coined the phrase “Cozy Dog” for their variety. Considered a historic Route 66 landmark, the drive-in has been a popular local spot since its opening in 1949.

The Cozy Dog Drive In is home to the original corn dog! (Photo credit: Instagramer @nathanmichael)

The Cozy Dog Drive In is home to the original corn dog! (Photo credit: Instagramer @nathanmichael)

The original brick road of Route 66 still exists in Auburn, about a 30-minute drive from the city center. Visitors can cruise the brick road, getting a feeling for what the original drive was really like.

The original brick road in Auburn.

The original brick road in Auburn.

Along Route 66, you’ll see a number of quirky roadside attractions, such as the large “Muffler Men” statues. Springfield is home to the Abe Rail Splitter and the Lauterbach Muffler Man statues, both offbeat attractions perfect for a road trip photo op!

The Lauterbach Muffler Man statue is stands tall in front of the Lauterbach Auto Service in Springfield.

The Lauterbach Muffler Man statue is stands tall in front of the Lauterbach Auto Service in Springfield.

The kitsch, nostalgia, and people make this a road trip you’re sure to remember. Plan your Springfield trip today at enjoyillinois.com.

 

–Illinois Office of Tourism

Dive Bars FEATURE IMAGE

There’s no shortage of hidden gem dive bars and restaurants across Great Rivers Country, and we’ve picked five of the ones across the region. Think we missed something? Comment below and tell us what your favorite places are!

Fast Eddie’s Bon Air

Fast Eddie’s Bon Air in Alton is one of the best dives in the area. Home to more than 4,000 barrels of beer, classic bar snacks, and live music and entertainment each weekend, this is a popular local spot all times of year.

Fast Eddie's Bon Air

Kick back with a cold beer and good food at Fast Eddie’s Bon Air in Alton

The Dock

If you’re looking for a relaxed, local spot to hang with friends, look no further than The Dock in Quincy. The Dock offers cold beers in a casual atmosphere along the mighty Mississippi River. Better yet, in the summer, there is an outdoor patio and bandstand with live entertainment.

Weezy’s Route 66 Bar and Grill

Weezy’s Route 66 Bar and Grill in Hamel recalls the golden age of the Mother Road with its black and white checkered floor, red vinyl seating and vintage signs. This is a great place to enjoy a drink and a home cooked meal.

weezys route 66 inside

Enjoy the Route 66 themed décor and a drink with friends at Weezy’s

Whisky Barrel Saloon

Two pool tables, video gambling and a stage make for a great time at Whisky Barrel Saloon in Rock Falls. In the summer, the outdoor patio is open for food and drinks. Classic pub grub is served at the saloon, including burgers, wings and tacos.

The Locker Room Sports Bar & Grill

Shuffleboard, darts and video games are part of the fun at The Locker Room Sports Bar & Grill in downtown Peoria. The menu offers the “create your own salad and sandwiches” options, which adds a unique twist to a classic sports bar.

For more suggestions for where to visit when in Great Rivers Country, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-The Illinois Office of Tourism

Sweet Spots Feature Image

The holidays are a time of indulging in decadent desserts, and there’s no shortage of places to pick up your favorite sweet treats in central Illinois. We’ve listed seven of the top confectionaries around the region. What are some of your favorite places in Illinois to get your sugar fix? Share with us and comment below!

Doc’s Soda Fountain

Originally a pharmacy built in the1880s, this old fashioned soda fountain in Girard is one of many stops along historic Route 66 where you can get a taste of the Mother Road. Stop in for lunch and warm up with a slice of fresh-from-the-oven pie!

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Get a taste of the Mother Road at this old fashion soda fountain

The Chocolatier, Inc.

The name says it all for this Bloomington favorite. This local confectionary serves homemade chocolates, candies and treats, including specialties like chocolate covered Oreos, Rice Krispie balls and the nut butter cookies. Put together an assortment as a gift to for family and friends, or pick out a selection to savor yourself!

The Homestead Bakery

At The Homestead Bakery in Arthur, you can purchase a number of made-from-scratch Amish baked goods, like caramel iced cinnamon rolls, honey yeast breads and angel food cakes. Decorated cut-out cookies, savory dinner rolls and cinnamon swirl bread are just a few of the top items on the menu during the holiday and winter season.

HomesteadBakeryInside, Arthur

Taste one of the traditional Amish baked goods at The Homestead Bakery

Pekara Bakery & Bistro

Pekara Bakery & Bistro is a favorite to the Champaign community, specializing in traditional European breads and treats with no preservatives or artificial additives. Named “Best Bakery in CU” each year since 2008, this local gem is sure to please. Offering a full restaurant menu, stop in to Pekara for lunch and a decadent dessert to follow.

Flesor’s Candy Kitchen

Milk shakes, malts, sundaes, splits – you name it, and Flesor’s has it! There’s no end to the decadent treats available at the Candy Kitchen in Tuscola. Pick out an assortment of hand-dipped chocolates, candies, cookies and other mouth-watering morsels. For a little extra zing, don’t forget to try the infamous Buzz Bark, chocolate coffee bark.

Divinity

Sample an old fashioned, homemade cookie at Flesor’s Candy Kitchen

Jubelt’s Bakery

Family owned and operated Jubelt’s Bakery has been serving its traditional European baked goods to the Litchfield area since 1922. While planning your next holiday gathering, stop in to Jubelt’s to order classic holiday desserts for Thanksgiving, Christmas and more.

Pease’s Fine Candies & Salted Nuts

Pease’s is in its fifth generation of the candy making business, selling candies and treats for more than 80 years in Springfield. Choose from a variety of caramels, nuts, toffees and popcorns to satisfy your sweet tooth!

For more tasty Illinois trip ideas, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-The Illinois Office of Tourism