I recently created a page called 1 Girl-50 States-7 Continents-5 Oceans which is all about how I want to visit all of these places before my unavoidable demise into __________(insert whatever religious place you believe in). On that page you will find links to every post about the different states, continents, and oceans I’ve been to. I’ll admit it now the continent ones will probably be long and have numerous posts since there are different countries in each continent that can be extremely different from each other. But, for now let’s talk about Illinois.

Where do I even begin for Illinois? Everyone is probably thinking Chicago but, Illinois is not just Chicago. In fact I’ve lived here almost my entire life and have only been there maybe 4 times. Let’s start where I grew up and spent most of my life. Central Illinois. Although, there might not be much in Central Illinois I promise you there are some hidden gems. Disclaimer: Some of these hidden gems are no longer around.

The first hidden gem that sadly no longer exists is Scooters. Scooters was a hamburger stand in the small town of Hammond, IL. There you could get ice cream, hamburgers, and the typical fried food associated with such a place. But the hamburgers….is there a drooly face emoji I can use because they were to die for. There was no indoor sitting, it was only open during the summer, and there was usually people lined up when they first opened.

The next hidden gem is another food place. If you haven’t figure it out I’m a foodie. This place is called R&I and is located in Arthur, IL. It is literally one of the best places in central Illinois to get breakfast. Only open from 4:30am to 1pm it mainly services local farmers. I not being a farmer was more of the person who stayed up to late having fun and drove there early in the morning before bed. Not only do they have great homemade breakfast that you can watch them cook from your booth but they also have cheap prices. I used to get 2 eggs, toast, sausage, hot chocolate, and biscuits & gravy. My bill was almost always $10 or less. Plus, the coffee and hot chocolate had free refills. You might get some weird looks walking in but it’s worth it.

Moving on from food. We have Allerton Park in Monticello, IL. This is a great place for hikes, picnics, photo ops, weddings, and anything else you can think of. It was created by an eccentric millionaire and gifted to the University of Illinois. There are a lot of hiking opportunities throughout the park, random statues, a gazebo, and the original mansion. Allerton Park has some spin offs that include an area for 4-h groups and something called HogChute Opry. The Hogchute Opry happens during the summer and a bunch of bands play their original music in a barn, people camp there, there is food trucks, and a huge bonfire. It’s one of my favorite music scenes to go to.

Lake Shelybville a lot of towns, Illinois. A really really really big lake that is the best place to go during the summer in central Illinois. There are part coves, food places, great swimming, and lots of lake to boat on. I went here every summer since I was a kid until I moved away for college. There was always something going on and now my friends have bought their own boats and go out on the lake like our parents used to. You can rent a boat if you would like.

Little Grand Canyon in Murphsyboro, IL. If you like hiking this is a perfect place in Southern Illinois for you. There is only one trail and it is 3 miles long. Don’t worry though it cuts down through the lower land, there’s great look-out spots if you go off the trail, a waterfall, and a cave if you can find it. A lot of the really neat places here you have to go off trail for so if you aren’t into that kind of thing you are going to miss out on a lot.

Inspiration Point in Wolflake, IL. Here you can find a lot of trails that lead to a number of lookout points. The specific trail I am talking about is called Inspiration Point and is only .8 miles long. Although an extremely short trail with a bumpy ride there it is well worth it. If you aren’t scared of heights you can climb out on a rock that has a hidden hole that you can sit in. You can look out in any direction and see for miles. In this same area you can find other trails that are longer.

Garden of the Gods in Herod, IL. What can I say about this place? So many different trails to hike that I couldn’t even begin to tell you. I went to the same spots every time I went but I wasn’t bored of it. There are a lot of areas to hike in that are next to a canyon. Most of it is hiking on rocks and climbing on rocks although there are some trails that are handicapable. The views are amazing!

Last but not least I’ll talk about Chicago. Like I mentioned before I haven’t been to Chicago but 3 times. I’m not the biggest fan of cities so I don’t tend to visit them. I will talk about the best visit I had there though. It was with my then boyfriend and our best friend. We went to see 5 or 6 bands play that we had records of. That by itself would be an awesome trip to Chicago but, on top of that we stayed in a hostel. It was one of the coolest places that I’ve stayed in. There were refrigerators that you could put your own food in, you could cook in the kitchen, neat designs on the walls, and people from all areas of the world. It was one of the coolest places I’ve stayed and we had a great time.

Bands I saw:

Ty Segall–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgOJxSMTWsk
Ty Segall & White Fence–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgOJxSMTWsk
Strange Boys–https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAJps3JhvKA

So, hidden gems of central and southern Illinois along with one randomly great time in Chicago and that’s it for Illinois. Come on and feel the Illinoise in this horribly hilarious song about Illinois https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmJwraC4p5A there’s more from him about Decatur and other areas.

I hope you enjoyed this break down of Illinois and some hidden gems and are looking forward to more.

Have you ever been to Illinois? If so what was your favorite place or thing to do?


18 thoughts on “Illinois…Not Just Chicago

  1. Hello! I live in illinois also and almost NEVER go to Chicago ! Lol. Although I do enjoy their hotdogs! *drool*
    Enjoyed your post alot! Thanks for sharing might have to take a drive and visit a couple of these places

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve actually never had hot dogs from Chicago! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and are thinking about going to some of the places 🙂 Is there any place you’ve been you think could have been added to the list?


    1. Thank you 🙂 I guess this one was definitely more of a guide than the other ones will be. Only because I grew up here and could have added a million other places to the list haha


  2. Don’t forget the Quad Cities on the Western side of Illinois! 🙂 This is where I live (only I’m across the river in Iowa), and there are lots of things to do here. Headquarters of John Deere, the Mississippi River, Isabel Bloom, several sports teams. It’s a great place to visit!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s the area including Moline, East Moline & Rock Island in Illinois, and Davenport & Bettendorf in Iowa. If you are heading to Iowa, you will most likely be close! If you come through and are looking for something to eat, the Quad Cities has a unique style of pizza with a malt-based crust. I’d recommend Harris Pizza. Yummy!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I have been to Illinois. It’s a lovely state. I’m driving from Indiana, so wish there weren’t so may tolls to figure out. Otherwise, I have mostly been to Chicago, but love the country as well. I prefer to park and walk. I love the smells, and the wide open country views. I really love small towns for their friendly people, ma and pa shoppes (antiquing my favorites), and a yummy place to eat or have a beverage. I’m going to say, summer is the best time to brave the lakes. I’m into warm breezes. Yep! Illinois is a beautiful state, and I’m not as bothered by the tolls…at least not any more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never driven through a toll but once in Illinois and that was when I went up north for my friends band. Arthur, Illinois sounds like a great place for you to visit not only do they R&I but they have an Amish restaurant called Yoder’s with delicious homemade food. They also have a lot of small shops. I grew up in small towns so they have their ups and downs.


    1. Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ll be posting another one this Sunday normally I would go travel some where and do a sundaze post but I’m extremely busy this weekend so using an old place.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the award! 🙂 I hope you go and visit some of the places that I mentioned if you live around them because they are definitely worth it! I just published a new post “Tennessee You’re the Only Ten I See”


  4. Hi Ciara

    I love your blog on Illinois, I would definitely love to visit it from what i can see. Inspiration Point in Wolk Lake and Garden of the Gods looks amazing. Beautiful photos.

    If you’re interested I keep a blog too, that’s if you’re not already on another adventure! It’s mostly poetry, art, essays and my general ideas on life. More recently, I’ve been doing a lot of automatic writing and will be including some journal entries, which I’ve been writing for the past 5 years. Here’s the link for the latest:https://steppenwolf2015.wordpress.com. Any comments would be welcome.


    Nina 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there Nina 🙂
      They are both definitely great spots to go to if you are in southern Illinois I promise. I try with the pictures sometimes not as much as I could haha.
      I was actually extremely busy this past weekend. It’s the end of the school year and since I work at two schools I’ve been having to go to two of everything. I didn’t even have a chance to go on an adventure for my Sundaze with Ciara which, is slightly depressing. I am planning and getting ready for an adventure I have planned for this weekend in between work and everything else. I would love to check out your blog. Thanks for the lovely comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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