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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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

-Illinois Office of Tourism



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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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

-Illinois Office of Tourism




Isn’t it fascinating that even without seeing the full detail of an object, our eyes know exactly what it is? That’s why this week we asked our Instagram followers to share their best silhouette images around Illinois. 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 your photo could be featured!

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


Lights, camera, skyline! We started off our silhouette challenge with this photo by @nav_dham


What a beautiful sunset… Great photo captured by @simply.ritch


Just a quick morning workout! Thanks to @keeping_moments_ for sharing this one.


Wonder where that plane is heading to… Thanks to @likes.this for sharing this with us!


A beautiful sunset shot of Northwestern University. Thanks for the awesome pic, @s.d.sea!


We’re seeing double at the Blackwell Forest Preserve! Photo by @meaghan_nelson


Around and around they go! What a fun picture captured by @cluff2003 at the Hamilton County Fair.


Nice pic, @amuj_ of the statue outside of Grant Park!


All the colors are showing in the sky at the Dick County Forest Preserve. (Photo: @amazedbyyouphoto)


Where did the sun go? Great shot by @pleasantly.defiant


The L is constantly busy! Thanks for catching real life, @jasondanielphotography!

-Illinois Office of Tourism


The first day of fall is days away, and that means changing leaves, savory fall flavors and, of course, sweater weather. So grab your PSLs (that’s short for Pumpkin Spice Lattes) because this week we’re gearing up for fall with a preview of the top autumn activities in Illinois so you can make the most of the season.

Pumpkin Patches, Corn Mazes and Apple Picking, Oh My!

It’s the time of year we’ve all been waiting for: Fall. The air is crisp, the skies are blue and there are endless corn mazes, pumpkin patches, apple orchards and fall activities for everyone to enjoy. But with so many options, where do you start? Fortunately, many of the fall farms in Illinois offer a combination of pick-your-own apples and pumpkins, corn mazes, hay rides, petting zoos and much more.

Take Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, for example. Known for having the World’s Largest Corn Maze, this year’s corn maze theme celebrates the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. If twisting and turning through 10 miles of maze isn’t enough, how about climbing the observation tower, bouncing around on giant jumping pillows, cheering on a pig race, or soaring through the air on a zip line?


Richardson Adventure Farm’s 2016 Star Trek corn maze

Picking fresh fall produce is a seasonal staple. Jonamac Orchard, Royal Oak Farm Orchard, and Rendleman Farms are just a few of the top places around the state to get your fall flavor fix, including the must-have apple cider donuts. Hand pick a variety of apples and stop by the country store to stock up on preserves, pickles, baked goods and other specialty items.


Photo of Rendleman Farm by Instagram user yoshifujiiceramics

Prost! to Illinois Beer Festivals

What happens when you combine fall and beer? You get Oktoberfest, of course! These classic German beer festivals are held all over the state. Champaign and Galena each host their own reputable Oktoberfest celebrations on October 1 to celebrate German heritage, food, beer, music and more.
Beyond Oktoberfest, fall beer festivals are happening all over the state. Say “cheers” to these celebrations this season:

  • Woodstock Ale Fest, October 1: Celebrate the three “B”s at Woodstock Ale Fest: craft beer, bacon and bluegrass!
  • Cock-A-Doodle Brew Fest, October 8: Aurora’s brew fest brings together local craft beers, finger-lickin’ good wings and a lineup of live music.
  • Festival of Barrel Aged Beers, November 11-12: Held in Chicago, this is the country’s largest celebration of wood and barrel-aged beers where you can taste some of the rarest beers, which may not be available commercially from breweries across the U.S.

Wiener Dog Races are a highlight of Galena’s annual Oktoberfest. (Photo courtesy of Galena Oktoberfest)

Color Drives and Leaf-Peeping Hikes

Part of what makes this time of year so special is seeing the leaves change from summery green to fiery red, yellow and orange. There’s no better time to see the fall foliage than in September and October. Take a peaceful ride along the Great River Road in Alton or Grandview Drive in Peoria – the road President Teddy Roosevelt called the “World’s Most Beautiful Drive.”


The Great River Road Scenic Byway in Alton

For those looking to get up close with fall foliage, enjoy a leaf-peeping hike through one of the state’s many parks. Starved Rock State Park and Shawnee National Forest make for two exceptional opportunities to see fall colors at their brightest.


A canyon Starved Rock State Park as the leaves change colors

There are hundreds of fall events and activities happening this year. To find out more, visit EnjoyIllinois.com.

-Illinois Office of Tourism





Feature Image

Did you know Chicago is home to 116 different skyscrapers?  It is currently ranked 8th out of all cities in the world! This week, we asked our Instagram followers to share their best shots of those sky-high structures. 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 your photo could be featured!

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

8.29 Willis Tower and Skyscraper (at)tat_ventures

What a shot! We started off the week with this perfectly timed capture of the John Hancock Center by @tat_ventures

View of Downtown (at)e4rlyr1ser

Bright lights, big city! We just love this shot from Hard Rock Hotel rooftop by @e4rlyr1ser

Chicago Skyline (at)mldsphotography

There’s nothing quite like the skyline all lit up against the night sky. Thanks to @mldsphotography for sharing with us.

Full Downtown (at)firsthandaccount

The city looks like it was made out of blocks in this one. Thanks to @firsthandaccount for sharing!

Hancock and Trump (at)mmcurtis73

You’re truly living above the clouds in the Hancock Center and Trump Tower. (Photo: @mmcurtis73)

Hancock Center (at)ernest_deo

We’re in awe of this capture of the Hancock Center at sunset by @ernest_deo.

Lake Front Trail (at)stufotog

Go for a run along the Lakefront Trail for a great view of Chicago’s skyline. Now that’s motivation to get moving! (Photo @stufotog)

NBC Tower (at)rummdog

Located right in downtown Chicago, the NBC Tower reaches a height of 627 feet! (Photo @rummdogg)

Willis Tower (at)jbhay

No matter what you refer to it as, the Willis Tower is one mammoth structure! (Photo: @jbhay)

Wrigley Building (at)themagmile

One of Chicago’s original Skyscrapers, the Wrigley Building has been A Magnificent Mile staple since 1927! (Photo @themagmile)

Wrigley Building from rooftop (at)tashka87

We just love the unique angle @tashka87 captured of the famed Wrigley Building.

-Illinois Office of Tourism