Bucket List Trips: Hidden Gems of Illinois


Illinois, like any other state in the US, attracts tourists to its most popular places. However it has some hidden gems that you might not know about, but they are certainly worth a visit.

Anderson Japanese Gardens, Rockford

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This 12-acre sanctuary is regarded as one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in North America. Situated in the heart of Rockford, it has waterfalls, a traditional teahouse, rock garden, and ornate bridges.  It is an extremely serene place that you can enjoy without being part of the crowds.

The Waterfalls At Starved Rock State Park, Oglesby


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This state park is stunning, but the waterfalls make a trek through the canyons and trails well worth it. They are at their best after a heavy rainfall, or in the spring when the snow has melted.

Grosse Point Lighthouse, Evanston


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This historic lighthouse is now considered to be a national monument, which means it is definitely worth taking a trip to see it. It was first erected in 196732 because of the frequency of the shipping disasters just off the coast of Evanston. You can tour the whole lighthouse, including climbing 141 steps to the top.

Village Of Oswego, Kendal County


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This gem of a village has tree-lined avenues and an old-world feel to it. It is a very friendly place that has parks, playgrounds, wineries, golf courses and, several other activities. If you are thinking of staying in this location, you’ll find many a hotel in Oswego, Illinois that is more accommodating than you could imagine too. It really is a very friendly place.

Cahokia Mounds, Collinsville


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This is the one and only United Nations World Heritage site in Illinois. The 2200 acres contain the remnants of a massive portion of the largest prehistoric Native American civilization in America. You can climb the mounds to find out what life was really like at its peak from AD 1050 to 1200.

Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive, Canton


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The best time to take a drive along this scenic route is in the autumn when the leaves are all changing colors. You can cruise along more than 100 miles of sheer natural beauty, as well as see some of the manmade wonderful features such as the dam on the Spoon River the public boat dock at London Mills and the historic Ellisville Opera House.

Cache River Wetlands, Cypress


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At the southern tip of the state, you can canoe through waters of this constantly flooded forest. Very tall cypress trees jut out from the water, and it is thought that many of them are thousands of years old. Some of the bases of these trees span more than 40ft.

Giant City State Park, Makanda


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This park gives you the chance for hiking, rock climbing, fishing and also has more than a dozen horse riding trails. If you love the outdoors, this park has an activity for you. You will also see here the ‘Giant City Streets’, which are huge sandstone bluffs that were formed some 12,000 years ago.

Illinois has many hidden gems, and sometimes the best way to find them is by chatting to the locals who will usually be able to point you in the right direction.

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