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Outdoor lovers will appreciate the wealth of parks, lakes, and recreation areas throughout the state of Illinois. Illinois is home to hundreds of miles of biking trails, hiking destinations, and beautiful lakes where you can enjoy nature at its best any time of year. Whether you’re a boating enthusiast or like to go bird watching, you’ll find dozens of destinations to head out and explore some of the most scenic sites of the Great Lakes region.
Northern Illinois is the perfect destination for skiing and snowboarding during the winter months. Chestnut Mountain in Galena is a popular destination for winter activities and is located near the Galena River where you can enjoy some kayaking and canoeing activities. The city of Galena is and home to several other destinations that are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. You can spend your days canoeing around the lake or go golfing during the warmer months here. The Eagle Ridge Golf Course and Woodbine Bend course are some popular golf destinations
The capital of Springfield is another popular destination for golfing, as well as sailing and hiking activities. You can spend some time hiking around the Adams Wildlife Sanctuary or head off on a sailing adventure on Lake Springfield. When you’re in southern Illinois, head to destinations like Shawnee National Forest or the Trail of Tears State Park for an outdoor adventure.
The parks in the Greater Chicago area offer plenty to do year-round. You’ll discover more than 8,000 acres of parkland around the Chicago metro area, several destinations that are perfect for boating, swimming, hiking, biking, and relaxing. Lake Michigan is home to more than 30 beaches and has 26 miles of lake shore that are perfect for picnicking and people watching on a hot summer’s day. You could also rent a bike to explore Grant Park or Lincoln Park during the summer season.
Fishing, boating, and other water activities are popular during the spring and summer months throughout the state of Illinois. You can head to destinations like the Rend Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area in southern Illinois to go fishing, hunting, or boating for the day. This area is home to the Rend Lake Refuge and Rend Lake Conservancy District. It also has an 18-hole golf course and several tennis courts if you want to enjoy some recreational activities.
Illinois State Beach Park is a must-visit destination when you’re in northern Illinois. It’s a U.S. National Natural Landmark and encompasses more than 4,000 acres. It’s the perfect spot to go hiking, bird watching, or cycling and it’s open year-round.
Several state parks have unique features and elements that are worth exploring. Lowden State Park in northern Illinois is home of the iconic Black Hawk Statute, a 77-foot statue that’s easy to spot from the road. You can spend some time around the Rock River here to go swimming, fishing, or boating. Head off on a hike along Rock River Run or hit the motorcycle trails for an unforgettable ride around Illinois. Another destination to explore in northern Illinois is Starved Rock State Park where you’ll find more than 13 miles of hiking trails and several archaeological sites. Pack a picnic and head here to enjoy the sunshine and breathtaking scenery around the water.
Illinois is also blessed with dozens of bike paths and biking trails, making it a great destination for exploring without a car. The Chicago Lakefront Trail will take you around several Chicago landmarks and you can explore other bike paths around the Des Plaines River, Fox River, Forest View Park, and Poplar Creek Forest Preserve to enjoy some sunshine and take in views of the area from a fresh perspective. Head to the 17-mile trail around the LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve with its rail trail made with crushed limestone or explore the Ned Brown Forest Preserve to bike the Busse Woods Bike Trail