Illinois is the heart of America. It sits in the center of the United States. It connects the Great Lakes to the Mississippi via the Illinois River. It’s an eclectic mix of small towns and big cities as well as factory and farming. It’s steeped in Presidential history: Illinois is the birthplace of Ronald Regan and was the stomping grounds of three American presidents - Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and Barrack Obama - at the time of their election. It’s the starting point of Route 66, the Main Street of America. It has traditional Midwest values. It’s numerous attractions reveal the real Americana.
Start a trip in Chicago - a vibrant metropolis with cutting-edge architecture, world-class museums, fabulous shopping and top-notch theater - and discover the most American city in the US of A. Travel beyond the Jewel of the Midwest and, in addition to exploring Main Street, unearth a once untamed frontier. Survey Amish country. Tour a 19th century mining town. Road trip on Route 66. Eat at classic diners. See weird roadside attractions. Read Mark Twain on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi. Learn about Native Americans, fur traders, French explorers, and river pirates. Match urban and rural Columbia.
Illinois is a national transport hub that is easy to reach by plane, train, car, and bus. There are eleven commercial airfields in Illinois, of which two are in Chicago - O’Hare and Midway. It sits in the center of Amtrak’s national rail system and Midwest train network. It’s served by a web of interstate highways. It’s a focal point for bus transit. Family Travel Tips: Bus travel is no longer the last resort for cash strapped travelers. This cheap and eco-conscious mode of transport is increasingly convenient, comfortable and tech-friendly. Traveling to Chicago? The elevated 'L' trains are the cheapest and most convenient way to reach downtown from O’Hare and Midway airports.
Illinois is 55,343 square miles in size and is well-served by rails, roads and rivers. Amtrak traverses the state from North to South providing access to more than 25 cities. Metra Rail offers commuter train service in Northeast Illinois. The state boasts thousands of miles of highways and scenic byways. While a car is essential in rural Americana its not the only way to get to the sticks, intercity buses crisscross the state making bus travel a good budget option. Illinois has more than 1000 miles of inland waterways within or along its borders. A boat trip on the Illinois Waterway, a system of rivers, lakes and canals stretching 336 miles from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River, is a unique way to experience the Land of the Lincoln. Illinois has walking trails for casual walkers and serious ramblers. While only a small portion of the state's cycling routes are traffic-free, much is on low traffic roads.
Illinois falls within two climate zones – Northern Illinois is humid continental whereas the southern part of the state borders on humid subtropical – yet the entire state is characterized by sharply defined seasons and is vulnerable to tornadoes. Spring is mild and wet. Summer is hot, humid and sticky. Fall is crisp and cool. Winter is cold and snowy. The peak tornado season is April to June. Here are a few of the regional distinctions. Chicago receives three times more snow than the southern portion of the state. Southern Illinois get fifty percent more rain than the state’s northern reaches and the average annual temperature is 10°F higher. Family Travel Tips: The wettest months are May and June but rain falls year around. Plan to dress in layers in spring and fall. Pack warm clothes if traveling in winter.