Things to Do – Yes, there is more than football!
Chicago’s North Shore
Historical landmarks, gorgeous gardens, and spectacular shopping await you in the windy city.
Chicago Botanic Garden: Climb a waterfall garden, discover hidden rooms inside an English Walled Garden, cross bridges spanning sparkling lakes, a Japanese Garden and discover a garden with trains chugging across bridges and trestles. There’s 385 acres and 26 gardens of wonder to explore in all seasons. Enjoy seasonal festivals, tours by train or on foot, art exhibitions, and lots of ways for families to learn about the wonders of nature.
Baha’i House of Worship: One of only seven Baha’i temples in the world at present, this unique structure symbolizes unity and invites prayer to God. Its white walls of lace-like ornamentation and its dome rising 135 feet above the main floor, create a scene of unsurpassed beauty and tranquility. It is surrounded by exquisite gardens and fountains. Designated on the National Register of Historic Places. A new welcome center greets visitors.
Illinois Holocaust Museum: Designed by renowned architect Stanley Tigerman, the museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost and by teaching the universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference. See an authentic early 20th century German rail car, an inspiring Hall of Remembrance, a permanent exhibition chronicling life before, during and after the Holocaust.
Downtown Evanston: Offering a unique blend of one-of-kind shops, boutiques, national retailers and diverse restaurants. You’ll find apparel, furnishings, book stores, salons and plenty of places to replenish your thirst and satisfy your appetite. A fun place to wander, the walkable downtown is steps from Lake Michigan and connected to the city by Chicago’s famed “el” train.
Westfield Old Orchard: One of the Midwest’s most celebrated shopping malls. With over 140 specialty stores including retail giants Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, and Nordstrom, this spectacular outdoor mall features beautiful gardens, landscaped walkways, sparkling fountains and children’s play areas. McCormick and Schmick’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory, and Buffalo Wild Wings offer a superb dining option. Catch a movie at the 13 screen Regal Garden Cinema.
Illinois’ historic I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor stretches from suburban Chicago all the way to Starved Rock State Park. Explore “The Mother Road” Route 66 or the Illinois & Michigan Canal, stay at four star hotels or historic inns, dine on hearty home cooking or haute cuisine, and play at the area’s exciting attractions and gaming venues. The Heritage Corridor CVB offers all the resources you need to plan a memorable group tour.
Ideas for First Timers:
- Illinois State Museum Lockport Gallery
- Gaylord Building Historical Site
- Statesville Haunted Prisoner
- Joliet Iron Works Historic Site
Ideas for Repeat Visitors:
- Canal House Antiques
- Joliet Prison
Starved Rock State Park: VOTED THE #1 ATTRACTION IN THE STATE OF ILLINOIS – is a world apart from anything else in Illinois! Amazing waterfalls are active in the spring and after heavy rains. We have 13 miles of trails to explore, Trolley Tours, guided hikes, bald eagle watches, special events, historic lodge plus, the Illinois River offers fishing, boating, extraordinary views and great places to relax.
The Illinois & Michigan Canal: The nation’s first national heritage corridor, the I&M Canal provided the crucial link connecting travelers and goods arriving by the Great Lakes to the Mississippi and eventually New Orleans. Today the canal is a living history museum featuring culture, architecture, historical canal boat rides, a 96 mile recreational towpath and more.
Harrah’s Joliet & Hollywood Joliet Casinos: Harrah’s offers the hottest casino action in Chicagoland. Las Vegas style, one level casino, hotel, restaurants and more. Hollywood Casino Joliet combines the best in gaming, first-class dining, nightlife and entertainment.
Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway: Starting in downtown Chicago, thousands flock to experience Illinois’ porton of “The Mother Road” each year where you can still find glimpses of filling stations, diners, drive-ins, product advertisements, neon signs & kitschy roadside attractions. Visit the Joliet Historical Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center to begin your journey.
Chicagoland Speedway & Route 66 Raceway: We provide the fastest entertainment in the area and play host to NASCAR, NHRA and Team Demolition Derby on three different tracks. Headlining at Route 66 Raceway, the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals. Chicagoland Speedway hosts the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series and the GEICO 400.
In Chicago’s countryside, discover Champaign County, a thriving micro-urban oasis supported by local agriculture, technology and research as the home to the University of Illinois. Groups will enjoy learning about the latest in farming techniques and research while tasting the bounty of the harvest. Discover incredible technological advances at leading companies and start maker spaces juxtaposed with a vibrant arts and culture scene that makes Champaign County an ideal destination.
Ideas for First Timers:
- NCSA: Blue Waters Supercomputer
- University of Illinois – The world’s great research university
- Beckman Institute for Advance Science and Technology
- Krannert Center for the Performing Art
- The Japan House
Ideas for Repeat Visitors:
- The Krannert Art Museum
- Business Instructional Facility
- The Round Barns
- Spurlock Museum
- Prairie Fruit Farms
University of Illinois –College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Science: A.C.E.S has been ranked the best in the Nation. Tour agricultural departments, including Crop Science, bioenergy, animal science, and much more.
Top Flight Grain and Premier Grain Cooperative, Inc.: Both cooperatives are a farmer-owned grain cooperative in the United States heartland, in the middle of Illinois grain belt. The rich soils and modern farm practices produce record yields of quality grains.
One Earth Energy: Producing ethanol and distiller’s grain. Tours available.
National Soybean Research Laboratory: NSRL is your information source for research in soybeans
from production to consumption.
National Center for Supercomputing Applications: Tour the Blue Waters Supercomputer, the largest and most powerful supercomputer on a university campus and one of the most powerful in the world.
DuPage County, Illinois is home to a wide range of unique attractions. Thanks to its convenient location just 20 miles west of Chicago, DuPage offers the urban excitement of a major metropolitan area combined with the charm, convenience and value of its unique suburban communities.
Ideas for First Timers:
- Lynfred Winery – Illinois’ first winery featuring a variety of award-winning wines
- Cantigny Park – Former estate of Chicago Tribune founder, Colonel Robert R. McCormick
- Drury Lane Theatre – Broadway-style musicals in an intimate proscenium style theatre
- The Morton Arboretum – 1,700 acres of live plants and trees from around the world
- Naper Settlement Outdoor History Museum – Living history museum of 19th century America
Ideas for Repeat Visitors:
- DuPage County rivals nearby Chicago for spectacular shopping. Popular venues with our international visitors include Chicago Premium Outlets, Oakbrook Center and several other upscale centers with hundreds of stores, and quaint community shopping districts with specialty shops and boutiques.
- Fashion Outlet of Chicago
- DuPage offers cuisine as wonderful and varied as the people who live here. You will find several sister restaurants to famed Chicago hot spots, along with hundreds of others that make the area a regional dining destination.
- Proud host of the 2012 Ryder Cup, DuPage County is home to over 50 golf coursesand several full-service golf resorts.
- Professional polo events are held in July, August and September, and a wide variety of other spectator sports and recreational opportunities are available.
- “Get your kicks on Route 66” as you explore the Mother Road and stop in at Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket, a historic roadhouse in Willowbrook that has welcomed Route 66 travelers since the 1940s, for some famous fried chicken and unique “mac & cheese.” Add to the nostalgic feel of your Route 66 experience behind the wheel of a classic American car, like a 1935 Roadster or a 1956 Thunderbird from American Classic Rides.
Morton Arboretum: The Arboretum is an engaging and fun 1,700-acre garden of trees and other woody plants from around the world. Enjoy the Children’s Garden, Maze Garden, 16 miles of hiking trails, nine miles of roads or a guided tour Amid handicapped-accessible facilities.
Cantigny Park / Robert H. McCormick Museum: This 500-acre park offers vast formal gardens, picnic grounds, a top-ranked public golf course and two museums: Robert R. McCormick Museum and Cantigny First Division Museum. Enjoy a wide variety of programs and events throughout the year.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir: Enjoy the fusion of traditional Indian architecture with modern technology; Explore the various facets of Hindu rites & rituals, as well as the core philosophical precepts of the religion; Experience peace & serenity. All are welcome. Admission is free.
Naper Settlement: History comes to life at Naper Settlement, a 12-acre museum village with 30 historic structures, including a Victorian mansion, fort, chapel, one-room schoolhouse and working blacksmith and print shops. Accredited by the American Association of Museums.
Brookfield Zoo: Open daily to inspire guests through extraordinary connections with animals, nature and each other. Great Bear Wilderness exhibit allows visitors to view North American animals and view Polar Bears & Grizzlies diving from underwater viewing windows.