The gleaming metropolis of Chicago made Illinois famous, but the state also offers smaller cities, including one with presidential connections, and landscapes covered in rivers and vineyards.
Illinois is known as the “Land of Lincoln,” with the home of Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. president, in Springfield. From that pre-Civil War site, shift to the ultra-modern skyscrapers of Chicago, one of the world’s biggest cities with one of the world’s busiest airports.
Originally a frontier trading post on Lake Michigan, Chicago has become an impressive center for business, art and sports. Take a sailboat ride to see the eclectic skyline stretching along the shores of the lake, see the skyline reflected in the bean-shaped Cloud Gate in Millennium Park or enjoy an evening cruise on the Chicago River surrounded by millions of lights with their mirror images shimmering in the water.
Chicago has more than 100 museums and cultural centers. Visit the Museum of Science and Industry to see the soothing rhythmic motion of the Foucault Pendulum. Attend the Chicago Ballet, Chicago Symphony or comedy at Second City Theater. Walk along the shoreline, main streets and city parks to notice multiple installations of public art.
Travel around the downtown city loop on the “L” elevated train. On Navy Pier, ride the Ferris wheel. Some of the nation’s best professional sports teams are here: the Chicago Bears NFL football, White Sox MLB baseball and Bulls NBA basketball. For shopping, dining and nightlife, visit the Magnificent Mile, a popular retail center for nearly 100 years.
Southwest of Chicago, visit Peoria, known as a city of typical Middle Americans. Stop in a grocery store and you’re likely to see test products from major marketers long before they appear in the rest of the country. Visit the Caterpillar Visitors Center, next to the Peoria River, to learn about the giant construction vehicles manufactured at the Peoria plant since 1925.
In the center of Illinois, see the Capitol building in Springfield. Visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum as well as the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, where Lincoln lived for over 20 years before becoming president.