Been feeling the need to take a road trip? You’re not alone. The past year has led to us all feeling cabin fever. We all want to gas up the car and hit the open road. (Yeah, I know we’re assuming to speak for everyone, but that’s our job.)
When you are ready for a most excellent road trip, it’s hard to beat the great State of Illinois. Even if you live in Illinois. (Because, you know, you don’t live in all of it!) Here are four destinations to head for.
Everyone loves Chicago. You hear that in every single TV show or movie that ever mentions the city. This is empirical fact and arguing with us will only embarrass you. We, cynically, sometimes suspect that people who live in Chicago do not love it in the depths of its life threatening winter, but we are wise and ancient and see the world from a higher perspective and so please take this observation with a grain of salt, or something stronger, and don’t let it factor in your decision making.
This is truly one of the most unique and interesting cities in the US. And every bit as much a part of how this country grew, and every inch as sophisticated, as New York. In fact, you could make the argument that it’s one of the greatest cities in the world.
There are so many reasons to visit Chicago for the weekend or a month. The restaurants and local food stops are extraordinary, the sports teams are legendary and legendarily devoted to, and somehow seem frozen in the era of black and white TV — which is to say somewhere pre the ultra blanching of American sports to some kind of nightmarish, Disneyfied “family entertainment” mush.
There are extraordinary museums — The Field. The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Adler Planetarium, the American Writers Museum and our personal favorite, The International Museum of Surgical Science. Plus so many more, some of the best on the planet. And of course there are some iconic music venues, and Chicago is the best place to hear the Blues outside of the Mississippi Delta.
The key to getting the most out of your visit to the so-called Windy City, which is nowhere near the top of the list of the windiest cities in America, FYI, is to plan ahead so you can fit in as much as possible. Plan, plan, plan. Just keep in mind that once you visit Chicago, you might never want to leave. It happens. Fortunately, this is an ideal part of the U.S. to raise a family and start a new career. Or be in the Witness Protection Program.
This is a city with a rich history and is perhaps most famous as the adopted home of Abraham Lincoln, and where he declared he would run for President (ditto Barack Obama). Thus you can imagine that there are plenty of fascinating Lincoln-related landmarks to discover and explore. You, imagining this, are correct.
You can also find tons of great restaurants and architecture to enjoy in Springfield. Give yourself plenty of time to roam through the historic landmarks so that you don’t miss out on anything in this amazing community.
If you’re looking for romantic getaways in Illinois, it’s hard to beat the rural beauty of Rockford. This is a town surrounded by cornfields and offers tremendous cultural diversity. It’s a place where you can relax, enjoy your coffee, stroll the Anderson Japanese Gardens, and breathe in the fresh air. I mean, the rest of Illinois has fresh air too, but this is your rural, midwestern, Grade-A Americana fresh air. Which is why we brought it up.
Here’s a great resource for renting a river cabin in Illinois. Because that is a way, way cool thing to do.
Here is another city in Illinois steeped in American history. General Ulysses S. Grant called Galena home starting in 1860 — ironically just before having to leave home for a few years to win the Civil War and keep the Union whole.
Galena is a great place to explore historical landmarks or simply rent a cabin. You can also take advantage of the vineyards and local breweries while you’re in town. Yes, vineyards. Just don’t forget to grab a giant hot pretzel with beer cheese along with a pint of beer.
What, you nearly forgot?