7 Family-Friendly Spots to Visit in Illinois

In celebration of National Plan for Vacation Day this week, start planning ahead for your next holiday. Established by the U.S. Travel Association, National Plan for Vacation Day is a nationwide effort to encourage people to plan ahead and commit to using their time off to explore our world and the multitude of amazing destinations and attractions that should be on everyone’s must visit list. As part of our travel plans for this year, we chose some wonderful family-friendly places to visit in Illinois.


A getaway to Springfield has something for everyone enjoy. Explore the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to learn more about Lincoln’s accomplishments and see the new exhibit, commemorating President Kennedy. Visit the new Kidzeum of Health and Science to explore innovative and interactive science exhibits or enjoy a free tour of the newly renovated Illinois Governor’s Mansion, the third-oldest governor’s home in the nation.

Six Flags, Maxx Force.


Splash around in the indoor water park at Great Wolf Lodge, featuring an 80,000-foot waterslide, roaring wave pool and raft rides. Premium suites at the Great Wolf Lodge can accommodate parties of all sizes. For a spring-inspired shopping spree, visit Gurnee Mills – a retail outlet mall offering up to 70 percent off brands like Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue and Levi’s. Six Flags Great America in Gurnee opens April 19-21 (weekends only until Memorial Day weekend). This summer, be among the first to ride on Six Flags new MAXX Force roller coaster where you can go from 0 to 78 miles per hour in two seconds. The ride will offer thrill-seekers the world’s fastest inversion and tallest double inversion. Continue the adventure at Hurricane Harbor and Riptide Bay–home to more than thirty water rides.


Give your family an iconic Chicago experience they won’t soon forget! Take in incredible views from the top of the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier or The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago. Make your trip both fun and educational with a trip to the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute of Chicago or the Shedd Aquarium. Shop ‘til you drop along the Magnificent Mile with stops at American Girl Place and The LEGO Store at Water Tower Place.

Be sure to check out Passport magazine’s interviews with some LGBT locals in Chicago prior to your trip.

Garden of the Gods. Shawnee.

Shawnee Forest Country

With seven wilderness areas and nine state parks, plus lakes, rivers, waterfalls and even a swamp to explore, the gorgeously green area surrounding Shawnee National Forest is the ideal spot to unplug and reconnect through recreation. Outdoor activities include ziplining through the trees near Makanda with the Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour, paddling through the Cache River State Natural Area and saddling up for a one-hour trail ride with Giant City Stables. Stay at Timber Ridge Outpost and Cabins with rustic log cabin accommodations dating back to 1852 and several tree houses with picturesque views overlooking the forest.

Pere Marquette State Park

At 8,000 acres, Pere Marquette State Park offers amazing wooded trails, biking along picturesque bluffs, fishing and boating on the Illinois River and even horseback riding through the forest. This summer, you can reach new heights riding the new Grafton Sky Toura gondola ride at Aerie’s Resort allowing visitors to experience the park from a bird’s eye view. Pere Marquette Lodge and Conference Center is an ideal retreat for visitors, featuring a 1930s Great Room with a 700-ton stone fireplace.

Galena Main Street.


Galena’s Historic Main Street is home to more than 125 unique boutiques, eateries, wineries and galleries. Taste locally-made wine at Galena Cellars, an Illinois Made maker.  Stay at Jail Hill Inn – recently named the #1 Inn/B&B in the U.S. by Trip Advisor’s 2019 Travelers’ Choice Awards. In honor of the 150th anniversary of Ulysses S. Grant being sworn in as president, spend a day exploring the Galena & U.S. Grant Museum. Chestnut Mountain Resort offers segway tours, ziplining, scenic hiking trails, mini golf and Alpine slide rides. In June, don’t miss the Great Galena Balloon Race (June 21-23), featuring more than 20 hot air balloons, races, and a night glow extravaganza.

Starved Rock State Park

With seasonal waterfalls, awe-inspiring bluffs and rugged canyons dominating the landscape, adventure awaits at Starved Rock State Park along the Illinois River. Outdoor activities include hiking, canoeing, paddle boat cruises, and fishing. For an unforgettable family getaway, stay at the historic Starved Rock Lodge or Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Grand Bear Resort, located approximately 90 miles from Chicago in Utica

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