Chicago Sunrise

Chicago Sunrise

Photo by Daniel Schwen, Creative Commons


 Magnolia Manor in Cairo, Illinois - Photo by MuZemike, Creative Commons Magnolia Manor in Cairo, Illinois - Photo by MuZemike, Creative Commons

It carries the instantly likable nickname of the Prairie State and, with a wealth of natural beauty to behold, Illinois certainly lives up to this bucolic tag. With five scenic byways that criss-cross the state, Illinois treats RV travellers to views of pristine rivers, tree-lined lakes, lush stretches of farmland and, of course, those cinematic prairie plains.


All this is not to say that illinois is in any way old fashioned or sleepy, after all, it is the 5th most populous state in America and also houses Chicago; birthplace of skyscraper and home to 2.7 million residents. In fact, when it comes to culture, society and politics, Illinois has long been considered a microcosm of greater America. To visitors the state simply represents an always-intriguing mix of nature, history and modern culture.


The easiest place to start - both figuratively and literally – is from the north-eastern city of Chicago. Although it's not the official capital of Illinois (that honour goes to Springfield), Chicago is certainly the cultural and economic capital: it's a true city-lover's city that crackles with people, history, big business, theatres, parks, ethnic neighborhoods, galleries, top restaurants, street stalls, million dollar homes and inner-city grime. Rising out from the western shores of Lake Michigan, the inner-city cluster of gleaming skyscrapers also makes for one of the most stunning skylines in the world. Motorhomes can be readily hired in Chicago and from there, with the main highways fanning out into greater Illinois, the roadtrip possibilities are endless.


Wine lovers and nature enthusiasts alike will should head to the picturesque city of Galena, in North Western Illinois. Sitting near the banks of the Missisippi river, Galena has a quaint, vintage charm and an award-winning main street lined with historic museums, boutique stores and tall, leafy trees. The city is also surrounded by wine country - making tours a must - and its proximity to the mighty Mississippi means that opportunities for fishing, boating and general outdoor recreation abound.

Also located in North Illinois is the stunning Starved Rock National Park. Spread out over 2,630 acres, the park is carpeted with lush forest and attracts thousands of visitors a year with its canyons, waterfalls and astounding rock formations. Starved Rock encourages activities from sightseeing and picnics to hiking trails, horesback riding and skiing, and also has a campground with excellent RV facilities.


If you're travelling south then be sure to put an afternoon aside for a visit to Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. One of only 20 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the U.S, Cahokia Mounds was built by American Indians between 600 and 1300 AD and remained their home for over seven centuriesis. Today Cahokia Mounds is the largest prehistoric city north of Mexico and is famous for the ancient man-made embankments that rise up from its floor. Visitors can climb the grass covered mounds, view reconstructions of the Woodhenge sun calendar and palisade walls and learn more about Native American history at the excellent on-site museum.


Of course, all this is simply a scratch in the surface of what can be seen and experienced in Illinois Depending on your itinerary, you could also visit stunning lakeside resorts, bountiful orchards and busy farmers markets; explore museums of near every interest and walk through the beautifully preserved homes of Abraham lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant; see quaint Amish villages, vast cornfields and picturesque examples of prairie architecture and, finally, unwind with a locally made beer and a huge slice of genuine Chicago deep-dish pizza.

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