I can't believe how many negative posts there are about visiting Illinois.
There are so many things to do and see here, it makes me think that people take things for granted, they aren't very well travelled, or something else, which I refrain from posting.
Why come visit Illinois?
For the most part, there are bad apples everywhere on this planet, the people of the central midwest are warm, fun loving people. Go to any public event in Chicago.
Check out the Air & Water show. (Next one is August 20-21, 2011)
There are so many things to do and places to go, it's impossible to list them all. I'd start by figuring out when you want to come, then investigate this site, Metromix.com, and others to see what's going on in that timeframe.
We've got an incredible city with something for everyone.
Chicago is a great City and it is worth visiting.......but just once so you can say been there, done that.
The rest of the State is pretty much AgBiz with little or no scenery or great distances between scenery (unless you like empty corn and soy bean fields in the winter)
Every State prison has a VIP separate facility for small time politicians and cops. Most of the bigger corrupt politicians go to Club Fed facilities in out of State areas.
Illinois a very good State to pass thru as there are Interstates going in every direction.
Well, depending on where you're coming from depends on what to hit, lets say from south up to the north
Metropolis at the KY border, Huge Superman statue (stop off the highway for 5 minutes to take a picture, not much else in town besides a casino and Fort Massac)
Cruise up about an hour to your choice of beautiful parks (Garden of the Gods, Ferne Clyffe, Shawnee Forest, Crab Orchard Lake, Rend Lake, Giant City (built by the CCC during the depression and has a great look out near their lodge which serves a great all you can eat fried chicken served family style).
Drive through the country to hit the Shawnee Hills wine trail to sample wines from over 20 wineries. Find a nice Bed & Breakfast in the area or stop into Carbondale or Marion for decent hotel. Personally, I'd stay at the cabins in Giant City or a place called Stone Creek.
Hit the road and head north, stop in Springfield to check out Lincoln museum and see the capital area, stop at one of the local restaurants and get yourself a horseshoe (Options depending on what you like, but basically bread with french fries and ham covered in a cheese sauce) a central IL classic.
Back on the road, stop by Funks Grove south of Bloomington to pick up some fresh Maple Syrup, at least it used to be there.
Decide if you want to leave the state on the east or west side and plan accordingly.
West side - Starved Rock, Galena,
East side - Chicago of course (historic tours on lake michigan and chicago river, Magnificent Mile, museums, Sears tower (Willis tower), John Hancock (go straight up to the lounge on the 96th instead of paying for the observation deck, why wait in line when you can have a beer and look at the city).
Overall, tons of stuff to do, if you're a nature lover Southern IL is the bomb, if you like the city and shopping sprees head north.