Illinois Top 10 Attractions

When most people think of visiting Illinois, they picture Chicago, but the state offers much more than just the Windy City. From flowing cornfields to metropolitan cities to historic sites, Illinois has every sort of attraction visitors can want. Heading outside of Chicago will show you gorgeous state parks and staying in the metropolitan area offers plenty of activities revolving around Lake Michigan. There are large malls for shopping, plenty of headlining sports teams, historical reenactments, gorgeous architecture, museums and other cultural attractions in the Land of Lincoln. To start planning your visit, consider beginning with some of these top attractions in Illinois.

1: Millennium Park

Millennium Park
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Peter Ciro

Built in celebration of the turn of the 21st century, Millenium Park is a jewel on the coastline of Lake Michigan, in the Loop district of Chicago. Its most famous icon is probably "The Bean," a giant stainless steel sculpture that is also known by its official name, Cloud Gate. The curves in the sculpture, which are responsible for its nickname, twist and bend the famous Chicago skyline from every angle. Right next to that is the Crown Fountain, two clear towers with video screens inside that project, among other things, images of people's faces that occasionally appear to spit water. A garden, a skating rink, and a serpentine pedestrian bridge can also be found here.

Address: 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602

2: Navy Pier

Navy Pier
Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Navypier

This iconic Chicago landmark has been gracing the shoreline of Lake Michigan since 1916. Designed by Daniel Burnham, the same architect responsible for the nearby Field Museum, Navy Pier was originally designed to be a docking place for large ships. It was given its naval moniker in honor of those who served in the Navy during WWI. Since its blue collar beginnings, Navy Pier has endured to become Chicago's top tourist destination. Shops and restaurants dot the area, in between Pier Park with its 150ft Ferris wheel, the Chicago Children's Museum, the IMAX theatre, and many other attractions.

Address: 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

3: The Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Bert Kaufmann

The Magnificent Mile is the name bestowed upon an illustrious stretch of Michigan Avenue just north of the downtown area, running in a north-south direction. The most famous eminence on this street is undoubtedly the John Hancock Tower, one of the most recognizable buildings in the Chicago skyline. Other notable buildings include the Wrigley Building, the Tribune Tower, and the Allerton Hotel. If shopping is your aim, this avenue is jam-packed with high-end retailers like Kate Spade, Cartier, and Tiffany & Co., with plenty of swanky restaurants nearby for when it's time for a break.

Address: North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

4: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/midiman

This museum honors Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, and stands in his hometown of Springfield, IL. The museum is full of artifacts from notable events in his life, like the original copy of the Gettysburg Address and a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, the document that ended slavery in the U.S. There are also items relating to Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd, such as her wedding dress and pieces from her china collection. There are also exhibits featuring recreations of Lincoln's childhood home and the box seat at Ford Theatre where he ultimately met his demise.

Address: 112 N 6th St, Springfield, IL 62701

5: Shedd Aquarium

Shedd Aquarium
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/qJake

The ocean is on display at this "oceanarium," which was the first saltwater aquarium of its kind to be built in the United States. It contains over 1,500 species of fish, mammals, coral and other marine life. Most notably, the saltwater section includes beluga whales, porpoises, sea lions and penguins. Many of these saltwater creatures perform shows at designated times throughout the day. The aquarium serves to education patrons on the ecology and biology of waterways around the world, including the Amazon River, the Caribbean Sea, and the coral reefs of the Philippines.

Address: 1200 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605

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