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Illinois Outdoor Fun

A Prairie State Recreation Guide



Pick a season – now head to Illinois. No matter when you plan on visiting the Land of Lincoln, there will be plenty of outdoor activities waiting for you.

Head to northern Illinois for the lively city of Galena – ideal for skiing and snowboarding in the winter months and canoeing and golf during the summer.

More golf can be found in the Illinois capital of Springfield, along with hiking in the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, or sailing on Lake Springfield. Southern Illinois is home to recreational escapes like the Shawnee National Forest and the Trail of Tears State Park – both ideal for outdoor adventure.

Even when visiting Chicago, this Windy City is home to nearly 8,000 acres of parkland – 1,200 of which devoted to the famed Lincoln Park. Stretch out on the beaches of the Lake Michigan shoreline, or hit the 18-mile Lakefront Trail on bike or foot.

Don’t hesitate; make your way to Illinois – your new favorite playground.

Greater Chicago

The parks of Chicago have something for everyone. Parkland takes up nearly 8,000 acres of the Chicago metropolitan area – most of which is devoted to the well known Jackson Park, Grant Park, and of course, Lincoln Park. Looking to walk, bike, swim or boat through Chicago? We thought so.

Visiting the Windy City this summer? Choose from more than 30 beaches on Lake Michigan – a total of 26 miles of lake shore. Staying near the lake? Rent a bike or bring your own to all 18 miles of the Lakefront Trail – a car-free and pet-friendly environment trailing the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

Don’t forget, Chicago is the hometown of the softball – so take advantage of hundreds of softball diamonds in Chi-Town. Hit a whopper of a home run, or enjoy the game from the stands in the cozy summer temperatures of Chicago.

Although the third largest metropolitan area in the country, Chicago can still entertain those looking to explore outdoor Illinois. In fact, entertain might be an understatement.

Northern Illinois

Northern Illinois is the place to get outside. Thanks to cities like Moline, Rockford and Galena, visitors to the Prairie State can kayak, hike and even motorcycle their way through northern Illinois.

Golfing? Skiing? You got it in Galena. Spend a few days skiing and snowboarding down Chestnut Mountain during the winter months, or try kayaking and canoeing on the Galena River from the Galena Boat Landing – free to any visitor.

For an exceptional game of golf, try the impressive Eagle Ridge Golf Course in Galena, or shoot 18 at the nearby Woodbine Bend course. For more fun in outdoor Illinois, check out the Galena River Trail – a 3.5-mile hiking and biking trail. If you’ve brought the family friends, don’t miss the pet-friendly Buehler Preserver for a day of picnics, hikes and bird-watching.

Less than two hours south of Galena is the city of Moline – home to over 700 acres of parkland. Trek down the four-mile Ben Butterworth Parkway neighboring the Mississippi River, or play a family game of tennis at Riverside Park. Yet another lively city is Rockford, a northern Illinois town set along the Rock River. Spend your summer in Rockford for golf and city parks – award-winning destinations for you and your family.

Enjoy northern Illinois all year long, and maybe next year, too.

Central Illinois

Outdoor adventure is best found in the Land of Lincoln. There’s plenty to do in small town Illinois like hiking, fishing and horseback riding at the Middle Fork State Fish and Wildlife Area in Danville, or taking a stroll through the Lincoln Memorial Gardens in Springfield.

The city of Springfield – best known as the capital of Illinois and the hometown of President Abraham Lincoln – is set right in the central part of the state. Visitors looking to get outside can choose from golf and city parks to nearby lakes and hiking trails.

Tee off at the Bergen Park Golf Course or the Edgewood Golf Club, or spend the morning at a number of driving ranges in the city. Explore all 40 acres of the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary – free to all visitors – or try fishing, swimming or picnicking at Lincoln Park in northwest Springfield.

Try canoeing or sailing right there on Lake Springfield – served by the Lake Springfield Marina – or bring your tackle box for all the channel catfish, largemouth bass and tiger muskie you can catch. Looking to get a little exercise? Try the seven-mile Interurban Trail – ideal for walking, biking, jogging and even skating.

Whether hiking, biking or motorcycling your way through central Illinois, you’re sure to have a memorable time in the Land of Lincoln.

Southern Illinois

Fun is not hard to find in beautiful southern Illinois. Host to the Shawnee National Forest and the Trail of Tears State Park, southern Illinois is a hot spot for outdoor recreation. Spend a day swimming and picnicking in Charley Brown Park in Flora, or explore the scenic and welcoming Garden of the Gods Recreation Area.

Tennis anyone? The Illinois city of Carbondale is home to nearly 30 public tennis courts – one of which is found in the Southern Illinois University’s Recreation Center. Along with the many tennis courts, the Carbondale area plays host to a number of state and city parks, not to mention hiking trails, biking paths and lively lakes.

Giant City State Park visitors are encouraged to spend their time in southern Illinois picnicking, horseback riding and rock climbing. Either that, or head to Little Grand Canyon – right near Carbondale in the Shawnee National Forest.

For fun on the water, sign up for canoeing and kayaking in Cedar Lake just south of Carbondale, or fish for bass in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. With so many state parks and national forests, it’s hard to know where to start in southern Illinois.


Best Western Hotels Along the Way:


Best Western Inn & Suites - Midway Airport

8220 S Cicero Avenue, Burbank IL 60459-1510
Phone: +1 708-497-3000  |  Fax: (708) 497-3019  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Saluki Inn

801 N Giant City Road, Carbondale IL 62902-6423
Phone: +1 618-351-6611  |  Fax: (618) 351-1802  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western River North Hotel

125 W Ohio Street, Chicago IL 60654-7168
Phone: +1 312-467-0800  |  Fax: (312) 467-1665  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Grant Park Hotel

1100 S Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL 60605-2301
Phone: +1 312-922-2900  |  Fax: (312) 347-2828  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace Hotel

3434 N Broadway Avenue, Chicago IL 60657-2516
Phone: +1 773-244-3434  |  Fax: (773) 244-3435  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Plus Chicagoland - Countryside

6251 Joliet Road, Countryside IL 60525-3958
Phone: +1 708-354-5200  |  Fax: +1 708-354-5200  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Des Plaines Inn

1231 Lee Street, Des Plaines IL 60018-1512
Phone: +1 847-297-2100  |  Fax: (847) 297-7884  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Lorson Inn

201 Hagen Drive, Flora IL 62839-2338
Phone: +1 618-662-3054  |  Fax: (618) 662-6073  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Designer Inn & Suites

9923 W US Route 20, Galena IL 61036-9187
Phone: +1 815-777-2577  |  Fax: (815) 777-0584  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Plus Chicago Hillside

4400 Frontage Road, Hillside IL 60162-1734
Phone: +1 708-544-9300  |  Fax: (708) 544-7600  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Airport Inn

2550 52nd Avenue, Moline IL 61265-6375
Phone: +1 309-762-9191  |  Fax: (815) 219-7444  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western at O'Hare

10300 W Higgins Road, Rosemont IL 60018-3818
Phone: +1 847-296-4471  |  Fax: (847) 296-4958  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Clearlake Plaza

3440 E Clearlake Avenue, Springfield IL 62702-6210
Phone: +1 217-525-7420  |  Fax: (217) 525-7476  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »


Best Western Plus Oakbrook Inn

669 Pasquinelli Drive, Westmont IL 60559-1251
Phone: +1 630-323-1515  |  Fax: (630) 323-1516  |  Hotel Details & Reservations »

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