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Enjoy Parks and Recreation in Illinois

Break away to enjoy a relaxing retreat in nature at several parks and recreation sites around Illinois. Whether you’re in the mood for hiking, nature walks, or sports activities, you can visit some beautiful green spaces, beaches, and nature conservancies to make the most of your visit. Centennial Beach is one of the few beaches accessible near Lake Michigan and has become a premier summertime destination, complete with sand volleyball courts and floating rafts. Head to sites like the Kickapoo State Recreation Area near Danville to go hiking and enjoy the great outdoors.

Starved Rock State Park in northern Illinois is the perfect destination to go hiking, explore archaeological sites, or head off on a fishing or boating trip. Plan a trip to the water park with the family at Pelican Harbor Aquatic Park, a popular summertime destination near Chicago that features a zero-depth entry pool, Lazy River, and splash zones for kids of all ages.

Centennial Beach

Covering six acres, Centennial Beach is located in the western region of the Chicago metropolitan area within Naperville. A public aquatic park set on the DuPage River, Centennial Beach was first established in 1932. Today, Centennial Beach is a premier summer destination in Naperville.

Centennial Beach currently features a beach, pool and Lake Michigan swimming, a skate park, ball field, and bathhouse. The beach is open Memorial Day to Labor Day, Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Explore Centennial Beach and check out the floating rafts, umbrellas for shade, the waterslide, or the sand volleyball courts.

Allerton Park & Retreat Center

Set in Willow Branch, the Allerton Park & Retreat Center is located in central Illinois near Monticello along the Sangamon River. Also know as Robert Allerton Park, the 1,517-acre area plays host to over 100,000 annual visitors.

Open to the public, Allerton Park is home to the expansive gardens like Triangle Parterre Garden and Chinese Maze Garden, plus the Allerton Natural Area – a National Natural Landmark. Visitors must see the Allerton House, also known as The Farms, plus the Butternut Room, House of the Golden Buddha, and the Avenue of the Chinese Musicians.

Grant Park

Recreational areas in the lively city of Chicago were established as early as 1844, a few years after the city was founded. A large park along the shore of Lake Michigan, originally known as Lake Park, became Grant Park in 1901, honoring former United States President Ulysses S. Grant. This 319 acre downtown park is located in the historic Chicago Loop area. Visit Chicago soon.

Throughout the years, Grant Park has been the site for many city events including the 1911 Chicago International Aviation Meet, Taste of Chicago, Grant Park Music Festival, Lollapalooza and the start and finish line for the Chicago Marathon.

Features of this incredible park include Buckingham Fountain, Chicago's Museum Campus, Petrillo Music Shell, Congress Plaza, Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago, Daley Bicentennial Plaza, Hutchinson Field and several gardens.

Kickapoo State Recreation Area

Spanning almost 3,000 acres, Kickapoo State Recreation Area is located in the easternmost region of central Illinois, near Danville and Oakwood. Plan out your next visit to central Illinois and make sure you spend some time explore the great outdoors at Kickapoo.

Established in 1939, Kickapoo State Recreation Area has it all: scuba diving, hunting, fishing, boat ramps, and even calm waters for canoeing adventures. Bring your hiking boots along and check out some of the excellent hiking at Kickapoo. Many visitors enjoy testing their limits at the Out & Back Running and Hiking Trail – it's 7.6 miles, and yields sterling views of the park.

Lakeview Family Aquatic Center

When your visit to Illinois has you exploring the central region and the city of East Peoria, head for the Lakeview Aquatic Center. Found just north a few miles in the city of Peoria, the Lakeview Aquatic Center is part of Lakeview Park, and it opens for the season starting on or around each June 3rd. It's also a short drive from nearby Morton.

At the Lakeview Aquatic Center in Peoria, you'll find public swimming available Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 4 p.m. Weekend public swimming is available from noon to 5 p.m. In early July, on select Saturdays, the Lakeview Aquatic Center extends it's hours to 9 p.m. at the Lakeview Goes Into Overtime night swimming event.

Lowden State Park

Lowden State Park sits on 207 acres in northern Illinois, 100 miles west of Chicago and 25 miles southwest of Rockford. The park hosts the iconic Black Hawk Statue – a 77-foot statue visitors can see from the road – and a number of outdoor activities. The Rock River flows through the park, allowing visitors to swim, fish and boat.

Take a load off at one of the many picnic areas, or check out nearly four miles of hiking trails.Lowden State Park is also found along Rock River Run, a popular motorcycle trails and one of many rides in Illinois. Enjoy an adventurous day full of outdoor rectioan at Lowden State Park.

Pelican Harbor Aquatic Park

At the Pelican Harbor Aquatic Park near Chicago, you'll find a wide range of fun and aquatic rides. Pelican Harbor Aquatic Park is a popular summer destination in the Chicago area, and is known for featuring indoor and outdoor rides and attractions. You'll find Pelican Harbor Aquatic Park just north of I-55 in Bolingbrook near Poplar Park.

On your next summer visit to nearby Countryside, treat the whole family to a day of water slide, splash zones, and lazy rivers – it's all at the Pelican Harbor Aquatic Center. You'll find a slew of other rides, too – don't miss the Lazy River Adventure Channel, the Fun Spray Playground, or the zero-depth entry pool, ideal for the youngest members of the family.

Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park sits on 2,300 acres in northern Illinois, just east of the city of Oglesby and 70 miles north of Peoria. Sitting along the Illinois River, the area became a National Historic Landmark in 1960, and currently offers visitors plenty of outdoor recreation.

Guests may take advantage of over 13 miles of hiking trails, visit the many archaeological sites, or spend the day fishing and boating. The park is also found along a popular motorcycle trail, one of many rides in Illinois. Enjoy an adventurous day at the Starved Rock State Park.

Chestnut Mountain

Make plans to visit Illinois and be sure to check out Chestnut Mountain. Found less than nine miles south of Galena, Chestnut Mountain is premier northern Illinois destination, yielding full days of fun no matter the season. Skiing during the winter, hiking and picnics during the spring and summer.

Check out Chestnut Mountain during your summer stay in Galena, and be sure to try the Alpine Slide, Mississippi River Cruises, and a bevy of segway tours. There are also bike rentals, mini-golf, and disc golf courses. The Alpine Slide is must-see attraction. It's a 2,050-ft downhill slide yielding thrills for all ages.