Category Archives: Seasonal Fun – Winter

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Trails to Adventure Light Festival Feature Image

The holiday season is just around the corner! From sipping hot cocoa with friends to taking pictures with Santa, Illinois hosts sparkling light festivals perfect for to experience with family and friends. Check out these five must-see light festivals in Central and Southern Illinois to make the most of this season!

East Peoria Festival of Lights and Folepi’s Winter Wonderland – November 23-January 1

With more than two million lights, East Peoria’s Festival of Lights and Wonderland is a mesmerizing display for visitors or all ages. The event kicks off November 21 with a three-mile Parade of Lights through downtown Peoria. The festival will crown a Lights Queen on November 15, conduct a citywide ornament hunt on November 25 and judge a Christmas splendor exterior decorating contest on December 8.

And for those looking to start the New Year on the right foot , sign up for East Peoria’s Get Lit New Year’s Eve Fun Run. This non-competitive and festive run starts at 11:50 p.m. on December 31, winding through Folepi’s Winter Wonderland and offering an exclusive view of the twinkling lights.

East Peoria Lights Festival 1

One of the vibrant displays at the East Peoria Festival of Lights.

Shelbyville Festival of Lights – November 20-January 2

Take a leisurely drive through Forest Park to see Shelbyville lit up in the holiday spirit. With new lights and themes every year, this festival of lights is a must-see this season. Families and couples are sure to enjoy the festive features including Victorian Village, Santa’s Shop, the North Pole and more.

Du Quoin Annual Holiday Lights Fair – November 25-December 31

For the holiday season, the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds get a festive makeover, transforming the grounds into a magical place of lights and decorations. Drive through  incredible lighted displays and decorated trees before enjoying live entertainment, delicious food and, of course, visits with Mr. Claus at Santa’s Train Ride and Workshop.

The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows Way of Lights – November 20-January 1

Illuminating the already beautiful 200 acres of landscape, the Way of Lights festival at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville features fun and festive events such as a new Lego Display play area for children and Tails, Trails and Twinkles, a perfect occasion to share the shining lights alongside four-legged friends.

Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage to admire the twinkling lights at the Way of Lights!

Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage to admire the twinkling lights at the Way of Lights!

Fantasy of Lights – November 30-January 1

Fantasy of Lights in Centralia is perfect for families with kids or couples looking for a spirited night out. Guests can appreciate the lighted displays on a drive through Foundation Park to experience twinkling candy canes or golfing Santa. In December, the ‘Little Obie’ train offers free rides for children – and adults, too – to meet Santa.

For more ways to celebrate the holiday season, visit

-Illinois Office of Tourism

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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

iconic destinations feature image

This week we challenged our Instagram followers capture “iconic destinations” from around Illinois to share with us. 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

superbrewhaha- Fast Eddie's Bon Air

We love this capture of an iconic destination outside of Chicago by Instagramer @superbrewhaha!

hectoriuz_ John Hancock Chicago

Great photo of the John Hancock in Chicago! Thanks for sharing @hectorius_

thecraighensel- Navy Pier

Instagramer @thecraighensel always amazes us with his pictures, especially with this photo of Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier!

bradhart- U of I quad

Snowy shot from University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana! Photo: @bradhart

kiteld- Cloude Gate, Chicago

How cool is this night shot of Cloud Gate in Chicago? Photo: @kiteld

jmillz77- The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago

Instagramer @jmillz77 visited Skydeck Chicago’s The Ledge and captured this great shot from 1,353 feet above the city!

-The Illinois Office of Tourism

Water Challenge Feature Image

This week we challenged our Instagram followers to share their best photos of water. Check out a few of our favorites below! Be sure to follow us on Instagram for more weekly challenges and share your best photos with us by tagging #EnjoyIllinois. Your photo could be featured next week!

For more unique Illinois destinations, events and attractions check out

nklogue- lake forest beach

We love this amazing photo of Lake Forest Beach by Instagramer @nklogue

darrengeorgia- rain drops CTA red line

Instagramer @darrengeorgia captured raindrops on the CTA Red Line in Chicago

nwmyers- baha'i house of worship

How awesome is this photo of the Baha’i House of Worship? It fits our theme perfectly! Photo: @nwmyers

skateorialist- puddle

Instagramer @skateorialist captured his reflection in a winter puddle!

murdamex- chicago skyline

Great shot of the Chicago skyline by @murdamex

waddy722 bridge puddle reflection

Another cool reflection shot! Photo: @waddy722

-Illinois Office of Tourism