Take A Scenic Illinois Road Trip To These 10 Hidden Gems
Pack up the car, there's no way you've seen all 10 of these.
Believe it or not, fall is about to come knocking on our door. While the season does seem to be getting fleeter (fleetier?) every year, it's still the most beautiful time of year in Illinois. The trees change colors, the rolling hills of the Illinois Plain make the perfect setting for this circular track that will take you to all corners of the state.
Compliments to Only In Your State for putting this together, very well done.
1. Joliet Iron Works Historic Site, Joliet
We start off on the south side of Chicago in Joliet, Illinois, home of the Blues Brothers. Here you'll visit what was once the second largest steel mill in the country. It remained unoccupied until 1991 when it was turned into a park with guided trails. Have a great time investigating the Joliet Iron Works site.
2. Mississippi Palisades State Park, Savanna
Next head west across the northern portion of the state towards Savanah, Illinois. The Mississippi Palisades is a series of short trails that climb along the cliffs and bluffs of the Mississippi and Apple Rivers. The views are some of the best of the mighty Mississippi.
3. Giant Oak Park, Peoria
Turn south and take a scenic drive along the Mississippi River to the central part of the state and stop in Peoria. Here you'll stop at Giant Oak Park which is literal a park with a giant oak tree. Its branches span out over 100 feet and it is believed to be at least 300 years old. It's cool, but let's be honest, you won't be spending a ton of time here.
4. Dana Thomas House, Springfield
Turn east and head through the central part of the state. You're gonna see a lot of corn and other types of crops. Try not to get hypnotized. Make a stop in the state's capital, Springfield. Here you'll take a look at the Dana Thomas House, a 12,000 square foot turn of the century home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Ever hear of him? You will also not spend a ton of time here.
5. Pink Elephant Antique Mall, Livingston
Head back south west through the state, there will be more corn fields involved, toward St. Louis and stop in the town of Livingston for the Pink Elephant Antique Mall. This is a massive antique mall/flea market that occupies an old high school. You might find a hidden treasure, and you'll at least have some excellent ice cream. Go spend the night in St. Louis.
6. Cedarhurst Center For The Arts, Mount Vernon
Head further south into the state and stop in Mount Vernon. Here you'll visit the Cedarhurst Center Fort The Arts. You never know what will be happening at Cedarhurst, the exhibits and displays are in constant rotation. Judging by those metallic horses in the above picture, I'm guessing it's usually cool.
7. Cache River and Heron Pond State Natural Areas
Head to the southern tip of the state and stop in Belnap for your next site. This ancient forest preserve houses cypress trees and massive bass. There are numerous trails to explore and camping is available. You'll want to find a place to stay down here because it's a long way north after this.
8. TREC Trails, Effingham
Take a long drive north to the south central part of the state and stop in Effingham. Here you'll try out the TREC trails system. The TREC trails system is a series of urban pathways that connect city and wildlife seamlessly. Come do some bird watching and enjoy this unique way to explore a city.
9. Spurlock Museum, Urbana
Head towards the center of the state and stop in Urbana, sister city to Champaign and home to the University of Illinois. Here you'll visit the Spurlock Museum. The Spurlock Museum is located on the University of Illinois campus. It is a free cultural museum that educates visitors about cultures and their histories from around the world. Speakers and conversation are common.
10. Elawa Farm, Lake Forest
The last stop on the Illinois tour takes back to Chicago on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan in Lake Forest. Here you'll visit Elawa Farm, a "gentleman's" farm bought in 1915 and since restored. Here you can wander the beautiful grounds and learn about the history of the site.
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