Illinois Top 10 Attractions

6: The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago
Photo Courtesy: Facebook/artic

This neoclassical structure was originally built for the Art Institute in celebration of the World Fair in 1893. It has accumulated a massive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist work in its permanent collection, including paintings by such giants as Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh. It also includes famous paintings like American Gothic, the portrait of a solemn father and daughter from the rural countryside. Edward Hopper's famous Nighthawks painting is also here. portraying a scene in a late night diner. The collection is extensive and full of treasures from all around the world.

Address: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603

7: Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/John

This canyon-filled park outside of Utica, IL, covers over 2,000 acres. Geologists speculate that a catastrophic flood occurred between 14,000 and 17,000 years ago and created the park's unique geological features, because they are atypical for this region of the country. The land has been surveyed by archaeologists from the University of Chicago as well as the Illinois State Museum. The park is full of registered historic places like Corbin Farm, Hotel Plaza and Little Beaver, all significant for their archaelogical artifacts.

Address: 2668 E 875th Rd, Oglesby, IL 61348

8: Garden of the Gods - Shawnee National Forest

Garden of the Gods - Shawnee National Forest

This park in southern Illinois is a collection of wilderness areas, spanning 280,000 acres. It started out as agricultural land which was rejuvenated by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and 1940s, when they planted evergreen trees to help stabilize the barren soil. Now its combination of forest and unique geological features makes it a must-see destination. The Garden of the Gods Wilderness is remarkable for its rock formations and breathtaking vantage points. There are also wilderness areas containing springs and waterfalls and large sandstone formations that can be climbed on and explored.

Address: 50 Hwy 145 South, Harrisburg, IL 62946

9: Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Ryan Summers

Nestled by the lakefront in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, this zoo is free to the public. It is an accredited zoo that features polar bears, big cats, gorillas, monkeys, reptiles and more, with the Hancock building and Chicago's iconic skyline as a backdrop. The Birds of Prey exhibit contains a vulture, a snowy owl and a bald eagle. There's even a penguin house. Domestic animals are also on display in the FarmintheZoo, intended to educate urban children on life in the more rural areas. Horses, cows and pigs can be found here.

Address: 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

10: Anderson Japanese Gardens

Anderson Japanese Gardens

This elegant garden in Rockford, IL was a design collaboration between John R. Anderson and Hoichi Korisu. Anderson enlisted the help of Korisu because he was the landscape architect for the Japanese Gardens in Portland, Oregon. The final result is so beautiful that these gardens were named the finest Japanese Gardens in the United States by the Japanese Journal of Gardening. In addition to the serene natural setting, there's a lot of Japanese culture on display here. Visitors can take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony or learn the basics of calligraphy, or attend one of the many cultural programs that take place.

Address: 318 Spring Creek Rd, Rockford, IL 61107

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