Charming Illinois Cities That Are Not Chicago

Claire Miles
Jan 11, 2020

One of the most popular travel destinations in the world is the city of Chicago. Approximately 50 million people visit the bustling metropolis each year, and it’s no wonder why: the Illinois city is known as a culinary, cultural, and shopping haven. However, Chi-Town isn’t the state’s only fascinating city. If you’re looking to explore the beautiful state of Illinois, here are a few road-trip worthy alternatives to the windy city.


Rockford, Illinois

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If you’re looking for an urban retreat with some natural landscapes, Rockford is definitely the city for you. The city is one of the most popular road trip destinations among Chicago locals, due to its close proximity to the Windy City. Tourists can admire Rockford’s beautiful nature by heading to some of the city’s most popular attractions, including Anderson Japanese Gardens and Rock Cut State Park.


Galena, Illinois

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Galena is a charming historic town just three hours west of Chicago. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the city’s population is only 3,400. Among the city’s many old cultural sites is an 1859 mansion once belonging to Ulysses S. Grant. Apart from boutique shopping and upscale dining, visitors can drive along the scenic Mississippi River Valley. Take Scales Mound Road or Blackjack Road to explore local wineries and farms.


Springfield, Illinois

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If you’re a person who loves visiting US state capitals, Springfield is probably already on your destination list. While many people mistake Chicago for the capital of Illinois, that title belongs to this historical city. Springfield is home to many sites related to Abraham Lincoln, who lived in the city before becoming president. Among these sites are the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and the former president’s restored home. Don’t leave without a tour of the Illinois State Capitol’s large dome, which is decorated with stained glass and statues.


Evanston, Illinois

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Sometimes you just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. If that is the case, then Evanston is the perfect place for you. The quaint college town is only a few miles out of Chicago, but its lush scenery is a nice change from the skyscrapers of the Windy City. Enjoy exploring Evanston’s picturesque residential streets, as well as its fascinating museum scene.