Category Archives: Seasonal Fun – Summer

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Festival Feature Image

Summer festival season is officially upon us! From carnivals and state fairs to music and food fests, Illinois knows how to celebrate sweet summertime. This week, we asked our Instagram followers to share photos of their favorite summer festivals 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.

7.18 Heart of Illinois Fair - (at) straublund

We started this week’s challenge with this thrilling photo of the Heart of Illinois Fair in Peoria. Thanks @straublund for the awesome shot!

+Glendale heights Summer Fest - (at) morsecodebecks

Our favorite part of a carnival is the carousel too! We love this shot of the Glendale Heights Summerfest by @morsecodebecks.

+Taste of Chicago - (at)psb_photos

We couldn’t miss a weekend of music, activities and Chicago’s best dining at the Taste of Chicago! Thanks for this cool photo @psb_photos.

+Vernon Hills Carnival - (at)chicagokiddieworld

So many rides! It’s a good thing the Vernon Hills Summer Celebration lasted all weekend so we could ride them all. (Photo by @chicagokiddieworld)

+NW IL Jazz Fest, Stockton - (at) stoned_art_studio

We can’t help but dance at the Northwest Illinois Jazz Fest in Stockton! Thanks @stoned_art_studio for the great photo.

+Heart of Illinois Fair 2- (at) svarttrost

This one isn’t for the faint of heart. Thanks for the exhilarating photo of the Heart of Illinois Fair @svarttrost!

+Young At Heart Festival (at)tyleryomantasphotography

What a ride! Thanks @tyleryomantasphotography for this awesome photo of the Young at Heart Festival in Loves Park.

-Illinois Office of Tourism

Outdoor Concert Feature Image

Fresh air, amazing backdrops and even better music – many would argue that you’d be hard pressed to find a more perfect day than that. Lucky for you, Illinois offers some incredible outdoor music venues that make that image a reality. From waterfront stages to downtown pavilions, there is no shortage of places to take in the sounds of summer.

Head to the Peoria RiverFront and you’ll quickly notice that there is never a shortage of things to do. The Illinois River makes the perfect backdrop for events all year round, including festivals, foot races, markets and parties. But any resident will agree that the Peoria RiverFront Blues and Heritage Music Festival is the can’t-miss event of the summer season.

The Blues and Heritage Festival has been a staple end-of-summer event at Peoria’s beautiful Riverfront Park for 28 years. Festival goers get the chance to bask in the glow of the sun on the picturesque downtown riverfront while they enjoy a world-class line-up of artists from blues, roots, funk, soul and everything in between. In addition to live shows, the festival also offers “Blues Lessons” and a live “Road to Memphis” competition, which gives unsigned blues artists the chance to win a slot in the famous International Blues Challenge.

Peoria Riverfront- Blues and Heritage Festival from FB

The Peoria Riverfront Blues and Heritage Music Festival draws in big crowds for its two-day event.

If you’re looking for another waterfront venue, look no further than Riverfront Park in Alton, where you’ll find the Liberty Bank Alton Amphitheater. A local hot spot during the summer months, the Amphitheater is host to a variety of events from community festivals and fireworks shows to live concerts, making it a great destination for families and friends alike.

Liberty Bank Alton Ampitheater

There’s never a shortage of live music at the Alton Amphitheater.

This year’s schedule includes musical performances by Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels Band, Rodney Atkins and the return of the Alton Food Truck Festival, where you can try out local street fare while taking in live tunes. With the Mighty Mississippi River as a backdrop, you can bring your blanket and spread out for an evening under the stars that you will be dreaming about long past the summer months.

Set against the Chicago skyline, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion is one of the top outdoor amphitheaters in the Windy City. Located right in Millennium Park, the Pavilion holds up to 11,000 people at a time and offers an incredible spot for visitors to take in shows each year. For such a large venue, there is not a bad seat in the house. Its state-of-the-art sound system, the first of its kind in the country, was designed to mimic the acoustics of an indoor concert hall, spreading audio equally through fixed seats and the lawn, to make sure that you never miss a note.

The Pritzker Pavilion is also host to the Millennium Park Summer Music Series, which is always one of the most popular events of the summer. The Summer Music Series offers a line-up of 18 free outdoor concerts every Monday and Thursday from June through the end of August, with performances covering a variety of different musical genres. The Pavilion also offers concessions by Goose Island Brewery, making it the perfect place to unwind after a long day.

Jay Pritzker Pavillion- Millennium Park Music Series

The Millennium Park Music Series is a popular summer bucket list item.

You don’t need green space to enjoy a concert in the great outdoors. Just ask the thousands of concert attendees at the new BOS Plaza in Springfield. Located just outside the Prairie Capital Convention Center, the Plaza is a beautiful stamped concrete space that allows visitors to take advantage of warmer weather months. The 8,300-square-foot plaza offers ample standing room as well as a catered VIP terrace to take in a show from an elevated view. Now in its second year, The Plaza has already brought in some popular big time performers, hosting a recent concert with rock legend Peter Frampton.

BOS Plaza- Springfield

The BOS Plaza is unlike any other music venue in the area.

For even more cool spots to take in music all year long, be sure to visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

– Illinois Office of Tourism

FEATURE IMAGE

Summer is here, and that means soaking up the sunny weather and spending as much time outside as possible. Activities that are usually indoors head outside to help you take full advantage of the season. For all you movie buffs out there, we have found some of the top spots to catch a flick outdoors.

There are countless things to do in Galena each season, and this summer, star-gazing gets better. The Goldmoor Inn turns its beautifully landscaped estate and charming Pavilion into an alfresco cinema when it debuts “Classic Movie Nights Under The Stars.” Sitting on 21 acres overlooking the Mississippi River Valley, the luxury Inn will screen classic double features this summer. And just because you’re skipping the theater doesn’t mean you’re missing the snacks. Freshly made popcorn is part of the deal.

GoldmoorMoviePavilion_Credit JumpingRocksPhotography

The Goldmoor Inn in Galena (Photo credit: Jumping Rocks Photography)

“Our gardens and grounds are gorgeous, and the star-gazers will be doubly thrilled to catch classic celebrities on the silver screen beneath the incredible constellations shining above,” says Birgit Radin, co-owner of the Goldmoor Inn. “Guests and visitors wondering what to do in Galena are invited to add to their list an evening of outdoor movies surrounded by the tranquil nature surrounding us.”

The Classic Movie Nights begin at 7 p.m. on select Saturdays during June-October, and the movie schedule includes:

  • June 11: Citizen Kane and Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  • July 23: Cool Hand Luke and Some Like it Hot
  • August 20 Casablanca and Roman Holiday
  • September 17 Metropolis and North by Northwest
  • October 29 Dressed to Kill and Frankenstein

Nothing is more American than spending a summer night under the stars watching a big Hollywood movie. So why not take a drive back in time and spend an evening at the McHenry Outdoor Theater? This unique classic cinema experience features all the nostalgia of a classic drive-in theater. You can watch 21st century blockbusters or enjoy favorites from the past. So pack the popcorn, bring a blanket and curl up under the stars for a unique viewing experience.

McHenry Outdoor Theater

The McHenry Outdoor Theater

Get double the nostalgia during a movie at the Route 66 Drive In in Springfield. This restored movie theater along historic Route 66 gives visitors the chance to see new and classic movies in a unique setting.

Route 66 Drive In sign_web

The sign at the Route 66 Drive in Springfield

In Chicago, the Millennium Park Summer Film Series takes place Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. during June-August. Grab a seat in the pavilion or bring a picnic to the Great Lawn and enjoy the free outdoor movies at Chicago’s architectural gem, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

The schedule:

  • June 21: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • June 28: Soul Food
  • July 5: A League of Their Own
  • July 12: Thelma & Louise
  • July 19: Full Moon Double Feature – Moonstruck & Silence of the Lambs (1991; R)
  • July 26: Kartemquin Films 50th Anniversary Celebration
  • August 2: West Side Story
  • August 9: Grease
  • August 16: Finding Nemo
  • August 23: Purple Rain
  • August 30: Audience Choice – Favorite Chicago Film
Millennium Park Summer Film Series

The Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago

Looking for more ways to spend your summer in Illinois? Visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

– Illinois Office of Tourism

 

FEATURE IMAGE

This week we asked our Instagram followers to share photos that featured their favorite summer treats in 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 Ale Fest - (at) bittyreiss

Starting off our challenge this week was this refreshing photo from the Chicago Ale Fest! Cheers @bittyreiss!

Bloomington (at)selzermusic

Look how sweet these cake balls look! Thanks for sharing this awesome photo from Bloomington @selzermusic!

Chicago White Sox (at)msnycole

Take me out the ballgame for these summer treats! Love this shot from the Chicago White Sox Game. (Photo: @msnycole)

Chicago, Coco Pazzo Cafe (at) cocopazzocafe

I’d like a scoop of gelato please! Thanks for sharing this beautiful photo @cocopazzocafe.

Riverside, IL (at) riversideillinois

What an awesome idea for a great cause! Thanks for sharing @riversideillinois.

Tre Soldi, Chicago (at) nicholsfarmand orchard

Since it is the season for farmers markets, we couldn’t end our roundup this week without our veggies! Thanks for sharing this photo from @nicholsfarmandorchard, @tresoldichi!

– 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