Category Archives: Seasonal Fun – Fall

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Football season is in full swing and that means one thing – tailgates! There is nothing quite like the anticipation of cheering on your favorite team with hundreds of other excited fans. Lucky for you, Illinois is home to big name schools that pull out all the stops for their game day celebrations. From pre-game fanfare to post-game grub, read on to learn about the hot spots on and off campuses across the state.

Northwestern Wildcats

Along Chicago’s North Shore you’ll find the Northwestern Wildcats, dubbed Chicago’s Big Ten Team. The Wildcats are coming off of a 10-2 regular season record last year and looking to continue that momentum, making the game day experience only more exciting for the fans.

Fuel up for the big game at one of Evanston’s many amazing restaurants. Stop for breakfast before an early game at Bagel Art or visit favorites like Edzo’s Burger Shop or Lou Malnati’s for a post-game meal full of local staples like Chicago style hot dogs, mouthwatering burgers and deep dish pizza.

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Photo courtesy of Edzo’s Burger Shop

Northwestern’s own Wildcat Alley is the place to get pumped up before the game. Open to the public for three hours before every home game, you can bring the whole family to find food trucks, live music, and a kid zone complete with face-painting, games and inflatables. At game time, follow the Wildcat marching band as they make their way into Ryan Field for another (hopeful) Wildcat victory!

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Northern Illinois University Huskies

Up in DeKalb, Northern Illinois University Huskies fans know how to have a good time! The winningest program in Illinois and in the MAC over the last decade, the NIU Huskies played in a record sixth straight Mid-American Conference Championship game in 2015 and have their sights set on a return this season.

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The NIU home game experience starts with The Yard. Located on the West Lawn of Huskie Stadium, you can enjoy free live music, grab food from one of several popular local vendors, or stop by the beer garden to have a drink with fellow fans. A giant video screen is set up to make sure you stay on top of games around the country while younger Huskie fans can check out the bounce house, climb a rock wall, or have their faces painted in the Kids’ Zone.

You will also get the chance to meet NIU student-athletes from the “team of the week,” find old friends in the Varsity Club tent, and learn what’s new at NIU. Don’t be surprised if the NIU cheerleaders, Victor E. Huskie and the Huskie Marching Band come by.

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If you want to keep the party going after the game, there’s no better spot than Fatty’s Pub, the official post-game headquarters of the NIU Huskies. Here you can gather with friends to chow down on all the burgers, fries and wings you can eat. When the weather is nice, you will find tons of fans on Fatty’s newly expanded beer garden.

 Illinois State Redbirds

Get ready to ‘Back the birds’ of Illinois State University as they ring that victory bell this season! The football field isn’t the only place to have fun at ISU. Tailgating lots open at 7:00 a.m. on game day and are quickly packed with excited Redbird fans. Bring your family, favorite food and your ISU spirit to hang out in the sea of red outside Hancock Stadium for pregame excitement.

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Don’t feel like grilling your own food before the game? No problem! ISU has no shortage of dining options right on campus. McAlister’s Deli in the Bone Student Center is a campus favorite. Medici and Firehouse Pizza & Pub are two other favorites just a short walk away in Uptown Normal, as are popular local bars Pub II and Maggie Miley’s.

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Photo courtesy of Instagram user @sarahkloo

University of Illinois Fighting Illini

Head to Champaign to catch another one of Illinois’ Big Ten Conference teams—the Fighting Illini! Tailgating before a University of Illinois football game has never been more fun since the addition of Grange Grove in 2015. This free, high-energy tailgating area opens at 7:00 a.m. on game days and is an area that fans of all ages will be able to enjoy. Grange Grove brings out big musical acts, kid’s activities, and the Marching Illini just before the team takes the field.

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Hungry after all the on-field action concludes? Stop by Black Dog Smoke & Ale House to try some of their award winning BBQ. If you’re looking for an iconic U of I bar, look no further than Legends Bar & Grill. Located in the heart of campus town, Legends is the cornerstone of Illini pride. Established in 1998, this bar pays homage to the legends of yesteryear with a range of U of I sports memorabilia on the walls, including an unparalleled life-size replica of Chief Illiniwek.

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Southern Illinois University Salukis

Bring your grill and gather your family and friends to post up along Saluki Row to cheer on Southern Illinois University! Before the game you can join other fans for food, live music and a chance to meet Gray Dawg himself. Saluki Pride runs deep in Carbondale, with fans of all ages headed out for this weekly tradition.

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No trip to Carbondale is complete without a burger from Fat Patties, named one of Illinois’ best burgers by Thrillist. Most of Fat Patties’ dishes are cooked with local veggies, beef from Lick Creek Beef and Bison from Bison Bluff Farms, ensuring that you have the freshest meal possible.

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For more ideas on where to attend live sporting events throughout Illinois visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

 

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Fall is here and we were just too excited to contain ourselves. That’s why this week we invited all of you to join in on our celebration by posting your “signs of fall” Instagram photos this week. Check out a few of our favorite captures below and be sure to follow us on Instagram for upcoming weekly challenges. Share your best photos with us by tagging #EnjoyIllinois and you could be featured!

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

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To kick off our signs of fall challenge, we shared this photo from @vintagemomentsshop taken at Eckert’s Farm.

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Fall is for autumn goodies from farmer’s markets, like this one in La Grange. (Photo by @kristina_joseph_photo)

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Wishing we could pull up a blanket and sip on some cider underneath this magnificent tree at The Morton Arboretum. Such an awesome photo by @kristenryanphotography.

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The colors in this shot could have us daydreaming all day. Thank @tashaka87 for the distraction with such a great photo!

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Spending time in nature is what fall is all about. Thanks for the gorgeous shot of Carpentersville @artistviejo.

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Yellow leaves stand out against these dark shadows. Thanks for capturing this shot @caittakespics!

-Illinois Office of Tourism

 

 

Fall Color Feature Image

This week we asked our Instagram followers to share photos that surround the theme “fall color.” 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 Image - Alton Riverfront Park arrow - (at) emilyblincoe

Our Mile Marker @emilyblincoe captured this vibrant shot of fall leaves at the Alton Riverfront Park.

University of Chicago - (at) starrynightbug

@starrynightbug captured this awesome perspective of the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park!

Starved Rock - (at) _iggygirl

How stunning is this shot of Starved Rock from @_iggygirl?

Castle Rock state Park - (at) happinesswinner

Instagramer @happinesswinner made a trip to Castle Rock State Park and captured this incredible shot.

DeKalb - (at) deanwickstrom

Instagramer @deanwickstrom shared this close up of a fiery red leaf in DeKalb.

Evanston - (at) chicagokiddieworld

Here’s another great close up of the fiery hues of fall from @chicagokiddieworld on Lake Michigan in Evanston!

Lake Forest - (at) katiegoingplaces

Instagramer @katiegoingplaces shared this road through Lake Forest decorated in autumn foliage.

Old Town - (at) mushroomstew

This shot of the trees in the Old Town of Chicago couldn’t be more sunny and bright! (Photo: @mushroomstew)

Galena Hiking - (at) sargoodeye

@sargoodeye went hiking on the trails at Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa in Galena and took this beautiful shot.

McDonald Woods Forest Preserve - (at) hx81

Instagramer @hx81 captured this shot looking up into the trees at McDonald Woods Forest Preserve.

Matthiessen State Park - (at) druedgcombphotography

We love this shot of Matthiessen State Park shot by @druedgcombphorography.

(at) joeyclicks

Instagramer @joeyclicks captured this golden sunlight in the Prairie State.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Outdoor Adventures Feature Image

There’s nothing like sitting outside on a cool, crisp fall day, watching the leaves turn colors and savoring the flavor of a great glass of wine. That glass of white or red is even more satisfying as a hard-earned reward after a day of outdoor adventuring.

The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail in Southern Illinois is home to 12 award-winning wineries within a scenic 25-mile stretch on Highways 51 and 127 in Shawnee National Forest. While the wineries offer beautiful views of lush green vineyards, cozy accommodations at rustic cabins and lodges, and of course, delicious wine, there are plenty of other activities that make the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail the perfect fall vacation spot.

Garden of the Gods

The most popular site in the Shawnee National Forest, the Garden of the Gods, is a hiker’s paradise. The panoramic views from the top of the quarter-mile Observation Trail are unparalleled, as visitors can gaze upon the breathtaking fall colors over miles of dense forest, as well as the incredible rock formations such as Anvil Rock and Devil’s Smoke Stack.

Trails to Adventure - Garden of the Gods (@mcdansley)

Thanks to Instagramer @mcdansley for this gorgeous photo of the Garden of the Gods.

Giant City Stables

For a more relaxed tour through beautiful Shawnee National Forest, stop by Giant City Stables, where you can experience the beauty of nature from horseback. Private guided tours of either 30 or 60 minutes are a great romantic activity in between vineyard stops along the wine trail.

Trails to Adventure - Giant City Stables (@jendugmo)

Adventure is waiting at Giant City Stables. Photo from Instagramer @jendugmo.

Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour

For a more exhilarating day along the wine trail, get your adrenaline pumping as you soar through the trees and above the valleys on 11 zip lines, the longest of which is more than 1,100 feet! There are also three suspension bridges and two short hikes on this exciting way to view all the diverse of flora, fauna and geology the forest has to offer.

Trails to Adventure - Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour (@thecreatornd)

Zip through the trees on the Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour like this adventurer, Instagramer @thecreatornd.

For more suggestions on outdoor adventures in Southern Illinois and more information about the wineries on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, find something more on EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

This week we asked our Instagram followers to share photos that embody the theme “crisp” in honor of the fall season. Check out a few of our favorite photos from around Illinois below!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram for upcoming weekly challenges. Share your best photos with us anytime by tagging #EnjoyIllinois. Who knows, your photo could be featured!

For more Illinois travel inspiration check out EnjoyIllinois.com.

Instagramer @jayzombie (Jessica Zollman) captured this amazingly crisp photo at Eckert's apple orchard near Belleville in October 2014. It inspired this week's theme: crisp.

Instagramer @jayzombie captured this amazingly crisp photo at Eckert’s apple orchard in Belleville in October 2014. It inspired this week’s theme.

Instagramer @sarafinkey captured this beautifully lit flower at the Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Garden.

Instagramer @sarafinkey captured this beautifully lit flower at the Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Garden.

Instagramer @adoredcreation captured this eye-catching Illinois field at sunset.

Instagramer @adoredcreation captured this eye-catching Illinois field at sunset.

Instagramer @amazedbyyouphoto came across this stunning foggy scene at Les Arends County Forest Preserve.

Instagramer @amazedbyyouphoto came across this stunning foggy scene at Les Arends County Forest Preserve.

Instagramer @brainofjsg enjoys taking bike rides in the countryside and stopped to capture this crisp sunset.

Instagramer @brainofjsg enjoys taking bike rides in the countryside and stopped to capture this crisp sunset.

Instagramer @diminished_thoughts snapped this vibrant and crisp Illinois sunset.

Instagramer @diminished_thoughts snapped this vibrant and crisp Illinois sunset.

Instagramer @michaelcourier captured the scenic Illinois plains from an Amtrak train near Kewanee.