Illinois is the state where Abraham Lincoln began his political career. The “Land of Lincoln” is the Official State Slogan of Illinois, designated in 1955. In the same year, the U.S. Congress granted Illinois a special copyright for exclusive use of the “Land of Lincoln” insignia. Though Lincoln was born in Kentucky and lived in Indiana before moving to Illinois, it was in Illinois where young Abraham Lincoln began his political career with an unsuccessful run for the Illinois General Assembly in 1832. Lincoln eventually was elected to four terms in the Illinois General Assembly and served from 1834-1841. Illinois was also where Lincoln lived when he became President of the United States in 1861.
Four U.S. presidents were either born in Illinois or spent a significant portion of their lives here: Besides Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama have great connections to the state. Take a journey through Lincoln’s early life and presidency at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. A new exhibit featuring the four U.S. Presidents who call Illinois home opened this spring.
From famous architecture to Route 66 and unique Illinois history, there are so many reasons to visit Illinois in 2018. Illinois will host several major Bicentennial events, including a Bicentennial Route 66 Motorcycle ride on August 26, 2018The Mother Road symbolically begins at Chicago’s Buckingham Fountain and continues for 300 miles southwest through the state. Meet fellow road trippers at the Joliet Area Historical Museum’s Route 66 Welcome Center.
With its dazzling display of colors, seasonal flavors and rustic accommodations, fall is the perfect season to experience Illinois. The Illinois Office of Tourism highlights the best ways to breakaway from everyday doldrums and discover the season’s best offerings throughout the state without breaking the bank.
“You will never experience a dull autumn day in Illinois,” said Cory Jobe, Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, “And many accommodations are offering discounted rates this season, which makes it the perfect time to enjoy fall’s vibrant colors with family and friends.”
Best Ways to See Fall Colors:
- Great River Road: The drive along the Mighty Mississippi (US-20 to State-84) includes stops in historic towns, native burial sites and features fall colors to marvel over for miles. The route starts and ends with breath-taking river views and makes jaunts into farm country and scenic Galena seem idyllic. A true Midwestern treasure is tucked away in a 33-mile stretch from Hartford to Grafton, known as the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway.
- Spirit of Peoria Cruise in Peoria: Visitors and Illinois locals can kick off the autumn season with a 90-minute cruise down the Illinois River aboard the Spirit of Peoria. Morning, afternoon and full-service lunch rides are available and for a special evening cruise, guests can reserve a spot as the cast of The Alton Little Theater and play a role in an interactive murder mystery dinner.
- Morton Arboretum Fall Color Festival in Lisle: The Morton Arboretum will turn the autumn season into a celebration with their Fall Color Festival. Throughout October, visitors of the Morton Arboretum can walk along the park’s scenic paths while enjoying the trees changing colors, taffy apples and scarecrow trail around Meadow Lake.
Best Ways to Sip Fall:
- Apple Knocker Hard Cider in Cobden: Apple Knocker is a craft cider house that reinvented the classic American beverage by infusing influences of modern wine-making and craft brewing. Visitors are encouraged to bring picnic baskets to Cobden to witness Apple Knocker’s unique brewing process and sample their fan-favorite crafts: the refreshing “Hard Knocker” and a tangy favorite called, “The Bad One.”
- Nouveau Wine Weekend in Galena: Raise a glass with the Lawlor family on Nov. 16 and 17, as they host their 34th annual Nouveau Wine Weekend at Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery. The weekend kicks off with a traditional horse-drawn wagon delivering the first bottles of this year’s harvest to local area businesses. A weekend visit also includes lunch on the second floor of Nouveau’s flagship store in downtown Galena, a parade, public tours and of course, plenty of wine tastings.
Best Ways to Save on Fall:
- Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center in Oglesby: Voted Illinois’ top attraction, the rustic Starved Rock Lodge is nestled along the southbank of the Illinois River. Visitors will be rewarded with panoramic view of the season’s best colors while hiking the sandstone butte and any of the park’s 18 canyons. Through Sept. 28, guests can stay for one night and get the second night free, Sunday-Thursday.
- Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center in Zion: Just 40 minutes north of Chicago, the Illinois Beach Hotel offers a quiet retreat along the shores of Lake Michigan in the heart of Illinois Beach State Park.The quaint accommodation offers stunning lakefront views, a full-service spa and reduced rates on rooms from October through February, up to $105 on weekdays and $125 on weekends.
- White Pines Resort in Mount Morris: Those looking to escape everyday hustle and bustle of can plan a rustic weekend getaway to Northwestern Illinois and stay in an authentic private cabin. For a romantic mid-week excursion, visitors can enjoy t a quiet evening in front of a cozy fire without breaking the bank – free-standing cabins are less than $125 per night.
- Giant City Lodge/State Park in Makanda: Discover Southern Illinois’ hospitality at its finest at Giant City State Park Lodge. Nestled in the bluffs near the Lodge are 12 one-room cabins and duplex cabins, each featuring decks that overlook the picturesque woods below. Enjoy a weekend retreat in one of the Historic Cabins for less than $110 per night and a weekday getaway for less than $80 per night.