For the most part it’s not unfair to say that Illinois is mostly known for Chicago. Move a bit farther inland though, and you’ll find some little known jewels that are just begging to be mined by the adventurous traveler. A mere hour and forty-five minutes brings you to the Freeport Illinois area. This unique section of Illinois is just a hop skip and a jump from the border of Iowa and Michigan and close enough to Chicago to make a day trip child’s play. Here are 5 of the best day trips in the Freeport area other than taking the trip into the Windy City.
Illinois Beach State Park
Illinois might me hundreds of miles away from the Atlantic coast, but you can still get your fill of beaches. Illinois Beach State Park stretches along Lake Michigan for six and a half miles in Zion Illinois and has 4160 acres of room for visitors to bike, walk, camp, and of course swim. There are more than 650 varieties of plant species in the park in the sand dunes area alone, and The park is the only remaining beach ridge shoreline left in the state.
Anderson Japanese Gardens
If what you’re looking for is a scenic getaway from everything then look no farther. Based in the Rockford area, the Anderson Japanese Gardens have been ranked as some of the countries best and most authentic Japanese gardens. The gardens’ season runs from early spring until the fall. You can buy a map, bring some fish food for a dollar, and just get away from the hustle and bustle of Chicago
Voted as Illinois number one attraction, Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby offers something unlike anything else in the Midwest. Thirteen miles of hiking trails allow visitors to make their way through 18 different canyons with views of 14 different waterfalls, overhands, and overlooks. If your feeling more adventerous the park also offers white water rafting on the Vermillion River.
Located in southern Illinois right outside Collinsville, the Choikia Mounds are a unique part of the state’s history. The park has approximately 80 mounds which represent the site of a pre-Columbian Native American city. The park consists of over 2200 acres so guests can spend hours exploring the most sophistication prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico.
Shawnee Hills Wine Trail
Right in the heart of the Shawnee National forest lies Illinois first, and most award winning, wine trail. While it might be feasible to hit all of the wineries in one day, there are 12 award-winning wineries on the trail so even a few of them will make an amazing day trip. If you can only see a few, Pamona, and Owl Creek are some favorites.
From outdoor fun, to wineries and Japanese gardens, Illinois definitely has something for every taste. Take a chance this summer, and see a different side of the Land of Lincoln.