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20 mag getaways giveaway 1st winner

The Illinois Office of Tourism is proud to announce that Julie Quinlan is the 1st Prizewinner in the Magnificent Getaways Giveaway Contest! Julie wins the History in the Making Getaway — Springfield Package, which includes:

  • Admission and a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the “Ghosts of the Library” theater at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum
  • Dinner with the Lincolns at Maldaner’s Restaurant
  • VIP tour of the Old State Capitol, with costumed guides
  • Knight’s Action Park and Caribbean Water Adventure passes
  • Route 66 Drive-In tickets
  • Springfield Walking Tour tickets
  • Deluxe accommodations at the Hilton Springfield

We offer our congratulations to Julie and now let’s take a look at her entry…

Experiencing Illinois with my curious boy!

Willis--up close and personal!

My fearless boy just hanging out over the city.

We loved posing for the camera at the Bean.

What a fun way to cool off during our sizzling, hot summer!

Sean loved seeing this interesting eyeball in the middle of the city.

One of our favorite activities is just chilling out and watching the dolphins.

Learning about one of Springfield's finest!

Living in the western suburbs, we are incredibly fortunate to live so close to the best city in the world! My very curious 5 year old, Sean, couldn’t wait to visit Willis Tower, the Bean, the “Eyeball” and the Shedd last summer. This year, he studied Lincoln in preschool and was super excited to visit Springfield and the Lincoln Museum. This summer we plan to continue exploring our beautiful state! We would LOVE to win this fabulous prize and receive extra special “Illinois” treatment! They will be memories Sean would never forget.

21 magnificent getaways 2nd winner

The Illinois Office of Tourism is proud to announce that Casey Watkins is the 2nd Prizewinner in the Magnificent Getaways Giveaway Contest! Casey wins the Stay and Play Getaway — Lake County Package, which includes:

  • A deluxe stateroom at KeyLime Cove Resort
  • Tickets to Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor
  • A $200 Gurnee Mills gift card

We offer our congratulations to Casey and now let’s take a look at her entry…

Your trip around the world begins here

Your trip around the world begins here in the south of Chicago. Plan your trip at one of the world’s most extensive map collections. Regenstein Library can take you to the Osaka gardens, and the University of Chicago, which looks like Oxford on the Midway. Eat pizza at Medici. See Frank Lloyd Wright’s style that started here and went around the world, and visit where the world came for our fair. All right here in Chicago.

22 shawnee hills fall festival

The annual Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Fall Festival is just around the corner, Sept. 3 & 4, and is promising to be even bigger and better than last year. Join all thirteen members of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail on Labor Day Weekend at the Down Town Park in Cobden IL for fine wines, a grape stomp, live music, local artisans and more.

This festival brings the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail’s finest wines to down town Cobden, IL.  saving you time and a tank, or two, of gas. Enjoy some of your favorite wines while enjoying live music:     

Saturday:  Blues Handle (St. Louis Blues)

Sunday:    The Kevin Lucas Orchestra (Progressive Rock)

A $15.00 admission includes a souvenir wine glass, 13 wine samples, entertainment and a $5.00 off coupon to use at any one of the winery tents. 

 Kick off the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Fall Festival with a unique tasting event celebrating the Vignoles wine grape.  ”Among the Stars” is an evening that showcases Vignoles products made within the Shawnee Hills American Viticultural Area, a federally designated region identified as a unique wine grape growing district in deep southern Illinois. Wines and spirits have been specially paired with locally-produced foods as appetizers to offer regional wine enthusiasts a new and in-depth appreciation of wine grapes grown in the Shawnee Hills area, all for a $30.00 ticket.

Make this a Labor Day Weekend to remember and celebrate Illinois Wine Month at the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Festival.



23 get close to nature at war bluff

War Bluff Valley Sanctuary is a beautiful place. If you’ve never been there or if you only get out there once in a while, you ought to see what you’re missing.     War Bluff Valley Sanctuary is located in rural Pope County in southeastern Illinois. Adjoining the wilderness of the Shawnee National Forest, this nearly 500-acre sanctuary is home to a large variety of birds and mammals, as well as a great diversity of rare plants, including several species of native orchids. The purpose of the sanctuary is to protect the wildlife and habitat, and for research on populations and native species. War Bluff Valley Sanctuary is a place for birds and other creatures. It is also for people – people who respect and love wildlife and the land.

We enjoyed several miles of maintained trails, winding through the various habitats including upland and bottomland forest, shrub and regenerating forest, and open land.  Don’t miss Simmons Creek, a beautiful rock bottom clear creek that runs through the middle of the property, with its many tributaries encountered throughout. Other features include 7 ponds, historic homestead sites, and interesting geology. Visitors are welcome from dawn to dusk daily, with guided tours possible with advance notice. Trails range in difficulty from easy to moderately difficult. Appropriate all-terrain footwear is essential where ever you go. Other than out-house accommodations at three locations within the sanctuary, there are no amenities — you will want to bring your own food & water, and, pack out anything you take in.

 Come for a visit anytime or come to volunteer on Stewardship Day, the second Saturday of each month–bring work gloves, water & a sack lunch.  We start about 9:30am.   Call 618-683-2222 for more details.

Enjoy Southern Illinois!


24 rock cave nature preserve

Nestled in a canyon, north of I-70 in Central Illinois is wonderful piece of nature, little known even to the locals. Rock Cave Nature Preserve is a Illinois Department of Resources preserve, 6 miles north of Altamont, exit 82 of I-70, along Rt128.

The sandstone cliffs in this canyon, which are found quite regularly in the far southern and northern areas of Illinois, are rarely seen in the central region. The stream which meanders through the bottom of this canyon hardly seems capable of having cut these mammoth rock faces but is a testament to what water, and a few thousand years can do.

It is a DNR preserve, not a park and as such, there are no amenities of any kind. I would rate the hike as moderate to difficult. There is no marked trail, however it appears the locals keep it ‘tromped down’ enough to see a discernible path. Traveling the length of the canyon requires several stream fordings and a few steep embankments. I did tall shaft rubber hunting boots, but trail shoes and gaiters would do it if you don’t mind wet feet. There is quite a bit of wood nettle and as such I advise calf protection of some sort. I did about a mile up the stream to a large confluence with another stream and was out of time and started my return, I will be going back……especially in the fall/winter.

There’s a small, barely marked parking area at the trail head, next to a small gravel parking area (on the East side of Rt128). To reach the trail head, go south on Rt 128 from Beecher City 5.6 miles, or north from Altamont on Rt128 about 6 miles. The lat lon or GPS coordinates are: 39.1064322, -88.8033924


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