Illinois Travel Guide

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Michigan Ave. (Magnificent Mile)

Michigan Ave. (Magnificent Mile)

Joseph Hollick

Illinois was once the state of the Illini Indians. They were replaced by French settlers, who established a fort "where a river flowed into a big lake". That big lake was Lake Michigan; the river, the Chicago River; the fort's site the city now called Chicago

The divide between Chicago and the "downstate" is dramatic.  Chicago is one of America's most representative big cities, filled with awe-inspiring skyscrapers, world-class museums, neighborhood festivals, top-notch restaurants, and above all, the splendid lakefront.  Chicago can claim the world's best blues, pizza, and summer weather while maintaining a refreshingly humble attitude.  More honest than LA, friendlier than New York, and better than just about anywhere, Chicago is a state unto itself.

Chicago is big on sailing. There is the Chicago to Mackinac Island race every year. If you stay in the Chicago Downtown Hostel, you can rent sailboats for the day via the Sailing Club. Or you can visit Northwestern University's Club boathouse where they might offer to rent you a sailboat for the day.

Downstate consists of miles and miles of rich farmland.  Springfield, the capital, has many attractions, namely highlighting the state's favorite son, and 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.  University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, is known for its active social scene.  

From Kayaking to Rock-Climbing, Central and Southern Illinois have a wonderful outdoor scene, so be sure to rent a car to leave the city.

If you're into skydiving, there is a great cheap place to do that in Minier, IL just south of Bloomington-Normal. Be aware of landing in the corn fields... If you crush crush the corn on landing, you will have to pay a "damages" fee to the farmers. Great SCUBA diving is available in all areas of Illinois, with many wrecks in Lake Michigan, just off the coast from Chicago and diving areas in Lake Egypt in Southern Illinois' National Park and Kankakee's abandoned rock quarries. Beautiful rock-climbing cliffs and canyons in Southern Illinois are located east of Marion.
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