Most travelers don't know much about Illinois beyond Chicago. But look past the Midwest's biggest city and you'll discover a state teeming with history, cultural attractions, and natural wonders. For a unique getaway, check out these three cities in Illinois.

Photo Credit: Dave Clark


The Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, located 20 minutes from St. Louis in Southwestern Illinois, is a place to rejuvenate the soul and relax the mind.The 33-mile stretch of byway which starts in Hartford, Illinois and spans to Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, showcases some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery, overlooks and vistas while taking visitors on a journey through a time when things were much simpler. Antique shops, ice-cream parlors, quaint villages, and people with a welcoming spirit are all found next to the rolling waters of the Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri Rivers that converge alongside the byway.

The byway has brought people and Mother Nature together for generations, and with each passing season the relationship becomes richer. It’s a place where there is great respect for the river, the wildlife, the history and the people who have always cherished the beauty of the area. Historical significance largely shaped the byway region, attracting hundreds of visitors each year to read stories of our country’s heritage and view monuments dedicated to figures and places of importance.

Photo Credit: Clarkmaxwell

Oak Park

Explore the historic Oak Park Area, located just 9 miles west of downtown Chicago. The Area, which includes 21 communities in Western Cook County, is rich in cultural attractions, history, architecture, art galleries, shopping and more! Oak Park is conveniently located near both O’Hare International and Midway International Airports. Public transportation on CTA Green and Blue Lines and Metra rail to and from downtown Chicago make the Area ideal for a day of exploring or a weekend getaway.

The Oak Park Area is home to the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright structures in the world, including his Home & Studio and his modern masterpiece Unity Temple. Explore the birthplace and museum of author and Nobel Prize Laureate Ernest Hemingway. Then make your way over to Pleasant Home, prominent Prairie Style architect George W. Maher’s finest surviving and only public house museum.

Kids love to visit Wonder Works, a Children’s Museum and the entire family can enjoy a day at the internationally known Brookfield Zoo. Stroll the tree lined streets full of architectural wonders and history in our Area communities, including Riverside, Forest Park, Elmwood Park and River Forest. Visit Route 66 – The Mother Road – as it winds through Cicero and Berwyn.

Photo Credit: Joe Penniston

Quad Cities

The Quad Cities line the Mississippi riverbanks with Illinois on one side and Iowa on the other. The Quads are made up of the historic riverfront cities of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa; Rock Island and Moline/East Moline, Illinois; along with smaller surrounding communities including LeClaire, Iowa. This region is the largest metropolitan area on the Mississippi between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and St. Louis, Missouri - and it’s just a 2 ½ hour drive from Chicago, Illinois.

Known for its wealth of festivals, there's always some reason to celebrate. How about music, food, beer, and art? How about Hispanic, German and Celtic celebrations, or Bald Eagles and Great White Pelicans? It is also the headquarters of John Deere, which offers factory tours, mansion tours, and the John Deere Pavilion, a museum dedicated to machinery innovation.