Top 7 places to visit in Illinois in 2017


The Daily Illini File Photo

The woods at the University-owned Allerton Park are about 20 minutes off campus. Assistant Opinions editor Jamie says this is a great location for a quick trip before graduation.

By Meral Aycicek

For those new to the state of Illinois, campus may feel like it’s alone in the middle of a cornfield. Never fear, there are many places to visit in Illinois if you have time over a long weekend or a break. Here are seven, listed in order of proximity to campus.

Allerton Park & Retreat Center (27 miles, 43.4 km)

Perfect for a casual day trip or a weekend getaway, Allerton Park has over 1,500 acres of natural and human-made wonders to explore. The University owns the complex, and the grounds are open to the public and have everything from woodlands to a Georgian-inspired mansion. It was proclaimed a National Natural Landmark and is considered one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois.

More information can be found here.

Arthur, Illinois (38 miles, 61 km)

The area around Arthur, Illinois, was settled by the Amish in the 1860s and now boasts over 1,000 Amish families. The town is considered to be the heart of Illinois Amish Country. With its motto, “You’re only a stranger once,” Arthur promises to give visitors a taste of rural Illinois and authentic Amish lifestyle. There are numerous restaurants and shops in the downtown area. In the surrounding area, visitors can visit Amish schools, see horse-drawn buggies, visit the beautiful Lake Shelbyville or catch a quality show at The Little Theatre.

More information can be found here.

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Springfield, Illinois (87 miles, 140 km)

Go to Illinois’ capital to be completely immersed in the history of the state, past and present. Learn about the life and death of President Abraham Lincoln by visiting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Lincoln’s law office, exploring Lincoln’s New Salem, a recreation of his village as a young man, and visiting Lincoln’s Tomb, which holds the remains of Lincoln and his family.

Hike through the nature preserves of the area or spend a few hours kayaking in the Lake Springfield Marina. Visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana-Thomas House or grab a hot dog on a stick at the famous Cozy Dog Drive In. Springfield is easily accessible via bus or car.

More information can be found here.

Peoria, Illinois (90 miles, 144 km)

Peoria is another Central Illinois town worth seeing. Peoria Zoo has over 100 species of animals, including giraffes, lions, rhinoceros and monkeys, and is open year round. The Caterpillar Visitor Center provides information and a thorough history of the company, which is based in Peoria, and its impact on the world today. Grand View Drive and Park, to which President Teddy Roosevelt referred to as “the world’s most beautiful drive” in 1910, has over 2.5 miles of sweeping views of the Illinois River Valley. Peoria is easily accessible via bus or car.

More information can be found at this website.

Starved Rock State Park (115 miles, 185 km)

Starved Rock was voted the number one attraction in Illinois and sees more than 2 million visitors per year. The park has canyons, waterfalls, fishing, boating, horseback riding, hunting, eagle watching, camping and around 13 miles of trails for hiking. The area is also rich with Native American history and gets its name from the starvation of the Illinois tribe while it was hiding during a battle between the Pottawatomie and the Illinois. The best way to get to Starved Rock is by car.

More information can be found on the park’s website.

Chicago, Illinois (138 miles, 222 km)

The cultural capital of Illinois, Chicago is ideal for multiple weekend trips. With around 3 million residents, countless theaters, museums, concerts, festivals and a vibrant night scene, there is always something to see or do in the Windy City. Chicago is easily accessible via Amtrak, buses or by car, and all take less than four hours. Transportation within the city is straightforward and inexpensive — the city is famous for its elevated train system, known as the “L.” Expect excellent shopping, delicious pizza, beautiful architecture and, of course, unpredictable weather.

More information can be found here.

Six Flags Great America (177 miles, 285 km)

Six Flags is a massive amusement park with over 100 rides and activities. It has a 20-acre water park known as Hurricane Harbor with water rides and a beach. Guests can add a water park pass for $10. Make sure to visit the park when the weather is nice and sunny, and also in October for the park’s famous Fright Fest, complete with haunted houses and spooky rides

More information can be found here.

Meral is a sophomore in DGS
[email protected]