TOP 10 PLACES TO VISIT IN ILLINOIS BY BIKE

TOP 10 PLACES TO VISIT IN ILLINOIS BY BIKE

Alexandra Ruticova

 

Almost every state has something for any taste, but, but, like always one would prefer particularly the atmosphere of only some places. This is so subjective, but it is also the unique and real guide to feel good. That is why our selection is eclectic, with town and wilderness, art objectives and natural spot, to choose what is closer to your perfect ride!

 

1. Springfield

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Springfield, Illinois is the state capital, and it is renowned as the birthplace of America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.   

Nowhere else you can find a more complete and authentic collection of Abraham Lincoln sites that let you step back in time to walk in the legendary president’s footsteps. Explore the nostalgia of Route 66 or take in the grandeur of the Frank Lloyd-Wright designed Dana-Thomas House. Enjoy farm-to-table restaurants, then shop ‘til you drop at local boutiques, art galleries and antique shops.

Bicycle enthusiasts in Springfield, Illinois are lucky to have access to so many trails and navigable paths for recreational travel, virtually year-round.

Try first the Sangamon Valley Trail, a picturesque route following the old St. Louis, Peoria and Northwestern Railway. It is an easy mostly level ride.

In and around Springfield, a cyclist can find also many other great options to bike, like Moraine Hills Bike Trail, for example. The 11 miles path goes through beautiful Moraine Hills State Park offering exceptional scenic and wildlife viewing opportunities, among them the signs of what the great glaciers left behind. Tunnel Hill State Trail, Vadalabene Bike Trail, Great Western Trail, Illinois & Michigan Canal State Trail and Fox River Bike Trail offer soaring eagles, spectacular scenery and the mighty Mississippi. All just waiting for you to take a ride!

 

2. Chicago

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Welcome to one of the world’s greatest cities!

Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States and has a wealth of exciting opportunities that draw millions of visitors every year. And there are a million places to visit and things to do in Chicago. You can explore the depths of the ocean at the Shedd Aquarium., catch a fly ball at Wrigley Field or take in a show at The Chicago Theatre. And, for sure, ride the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. And that’s just day one. Chicago boasts some of the best cuisine, attractions, craft breweries, and entertainment in the U.S., including several of the top 100 restaurants in the country, the tallest building in the US, and one of the best orchestras in the world in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

A trip to Illinois would not be complete without a visit to Chicago’s famed Millennium Park, found in the heart of the city. The Pritzker Pavilion, designed by one of the world’s most celebrated architects Frank Gehry, is the true centerpiece of the park. Designed with superior outdoor acoustics, the pavilion has space for 11,000 visitors, both seated and on the lawn.

Next, master the Mile! When it comes to the world’s great thoroughfares, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile goes toe-to-toe with New York’s Fifth Avenue or the Champs-Élysées in Paris. A wide, flower-filled boulevard bounded by the Chicago River on the south and Oak Street to the north, the Mag Mile constantly bustles with crowds of locals and visitors alike.

Save another day for Chicago’s must see museums, because Chicago is home to some of the most acclaimed museums in the world.

Discover Chicago’s celebrated museums from the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum and Adler Planetarium, to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry.

Take a trip to the bustling boardwalks of Navy Pier, of course. This Chicago landmark recently celebrated its 100th anniversary with a host of new experiences including the 200-foot-tall Centennial Wheel.

If you need more guidance to see as much as you can of the city, choose a bike tour. One of the most popular is Bike & Roll. Experience Chicago, acquire its history, and enjoy amazing views with bike tours daily. The amazing lakefront, rich history, & spectacular architecture provide a great biking experience. The cost for an adult is 40$ and for kids 30$.

 

3. Rockford

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Rockford is the second largest city in the state of Illinois outside of the Chicago Area and is often dubbed “The Forest City” due to its 20,000 acres of green space.

Rockford has always been a cycling town and the list of things to do here is endless. You should enjoy the family museums like Burpee Museum of Natural History and Discovery Center Museum. Or, maybe, a tour through Anderson Japanese Garden, one of the top Japanese gardens in North America.

There’s such a variety of abundant gardens to explore right here in the Forest City! When you are looking for things to do, check out these great outdoor spaces that gave them the reputation as the "City of Gardens" -- offering beauty to explore all year long at the region’s local museum campuses, forest preserves, arboretums, paths and along the beautiful Rock River!

It’s easy to feel inspired by the intricacies of Anderson Japanese Gardens or Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens which  is the third largest conservatory in Illinois, is complete with water features, sculptures, tropical plants and the relaxing seating to sit back and soak it all in. And don't forget about Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden which its amazing variety of trees and flowers and the fun labyrinth.

Where to paddle, bike & hike?

The Forest Preserves of Winnebago County is one of the best systems in Illinois with more than 10,000 acres of natural areas, recreational areas, lakes, rivers and forests to explore. From watching migratory birds being banded to boating at Rock Cut State Park, you're sure to find all the outdoor experiences you could wish for. Canoeing and kayaking on the Rock River, Kishwaukee River and throughout the region continues to grow in popularity. Whether you are novice or an expert on the waters, there is something for everyone. Severson Dells is one of the premier outdoor adventure spots with several hiking trails and an interactive kids area that allows children to explore their natural environment in a variety of unique games and activities.

If you are looking for a unique adventure to wow your friends and family, head over to West Rock Wake Park and hop on one of Rockford's newest and coolest attractions. At West Rock, you can wakeboard on Levings Lake thanks to a system of cables, and no boat and no experience is required.

 

4. Galena Illinois

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Galena, Illinois, is a great place to visit on a romantic weekend getaway or with kids. A large portion of the city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and there are many historical sights to explore. 

Journey along scenic country roads to one of the three area wineries or savor the latest vintage while dining at one of Galena's nearly 30 unique restaurants, cafes and coffeehouses.

Stroll along Galena's Main Street and shop their art galleries, antiques stores, and eclectic boutique shops. Find a gift for someone special, choose pieces to decorate your home and garden, and savor the memories of your trip at home with specialty foods & products made in Galena.

 

5. Naperville Riverwalk

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Considered the "crown jewel" of Naperville, the Riverwalk is a place of beauty and tranquility along the West Branch of the DuPage River. Here there are numerous recreational trails for bike riding, walking and running in this part of the state.  

It is enough to take on Naperville Riverwalk to discover beautiful area with gardens, lush landscaping, covered bridges, inviting walkways, benches and fountains. It features 1.75 miles of brick paths. The Riverwalk is highlighted with exceptional amenities along its path. To the east, visitors enjoy the stunning beauty of Fredenhagen Park with its landmark clock tower and Exchange Club Memories Fountain. Midway, the Dandelion Fountain, Paddleboat Quarry and unique bell tower can be found. Further west is historic Centennial Beach – a popular family destination – Centennial Park with its inline skating/skateboarding facility and the Jaycee Playground recreational area. Come relax and enjoy the scene. Riverwalk has something for everyone.

Or you can ride on The DuPage River Trail, an expanding system of paved recreational trails located within the natural areas along the DuPage River.

 

6. Morton Arboretum

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Whether you seek a quiet walk in the woods or an active family exploration, the Arboretum offers an oasis of magnificent trees and beautiful landscapes for people of all ages and interests.

Set over 1700 acres, the arboretum has sixteen miles of hiking trails and other paved routes for driving or cycling. Nine miles of paved roads wind through The Morton Arboretum providing vehicles, bicyclists, and runners with a stunning view of the majestic landscape. In addition, 16 miles of trails are maintained year-round for hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. 

Hop on your bicycle, and explore the expansive grounds in a new and adventurous way all year-round (daily, 7 am. - sunset). 

Bike racks are available at the Visitor Center, Big Rock and Prairie Visitor Stations, Administration & Research Center, Thornhill Education Center, and near the Gatehouses at the main entrance.

Their rental season is from April 28 through October 29  and includes a variety of bikes, carts, and even wagons.

They have even a group of dedicated, trained Arboretum volunteers which periodically patrol the grounds to assist cyclists and monitor compliance with biking guidelines.

 

7. Shawnee National Forest

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Nestled between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers the Forest’s landscape features rolling hills, forests, open lands, lakes, creeks and rugged bluffs. The area’s mild weather throughout the year makes a visit during any season enjoyable. This place of natural beauty is ideal for all types of outdoor recreation.

The fact is that the Shawnee is horseback territory and it is better to walk or hike and park the bike to not spook the horses and cause accidents.

Presently, there are no designated bike trails in the Shawnee National Forest. The Forest has restrictions prohibiting mountain bikes from traveling off-road, in natural areas and in other non-motorized areas. This means mountain bikes are allowed only on roads. Generally, roads within the Shawnee National Forest consist of either dirt or gravel.

If you like to hike, this is a great place where hikers are greeted by magnificent jutting walls of rock covered with emerald-green moss, and paths that meander through canyons under the forest canopy. The Shawnee National Forest is famed for its awesome Garden of the Gods, and is home to the Rim Rock Recreational Trail (the forest has a system of 403 miles of equestrian/hiking trails).

 

8. Peoria

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Located on the Illinois River, Peoria is a historic city that offers many unique attractions, museums and things to do.

You can explore the Peoria Riverfront Museum, stop by the Caterpillar Visitors Center and stroll through Luthy Botanical Garden, which features a beautiful conservatory filled with orchids and tropical plants. Best things to do in Peoria for families include the Peoria PlayHouse Children's Museum and Forest Park Nature Center.

You can ride your bike anywhere between those interesting objectives and here you have even the CityLink that makes it easy to “bike and ride.” You can bring a standard-size bike on the bus, but only if there’s room in the bike rack located on the front of the it.  The racks can fill up quickly at rush hour so plan ahead.

 

9. Fabyan Forest Preserve

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When Colonel George Fabyan and his wife Nelle bought significant acreage in northern Illinois, they had a home built for them by Frank Lloyd Wright, a home that after their deaths became the Fabyan Villa Museum. In 1907, the Fabyans contracted Frank Lloyd Wright to redesign the initial farmhouse into a larger and modernized home they called "The Villa". While the Fabyans lived on the estate they employed more than 60 people in positions as maids, gardeners, chauffeurs, scientists, and farmers. They even employed a sculptor to create numerous stone and concrete fountains, statues, and furniture, as well as cages for the various wild animals the brought to Riverbank. Many of these structures remain in the preserve today.

Thousands of visitors take strolls along its river shores and thousands more jog and bike along the trails and across the river bridge. But don’t miss the historic elements remaining in the preserve, especially the Fabyan Villa Museum, the Japanese Garden and the Fabyan Windmill.

 

10. Mississippi Palisades State Park

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A palisade is a long, steep cliff, the sort that you see along riverbanks, and at this 2,500-acre park in northwestern Illinois, they run along the shores of the Mississippi at its confluence with the Apple River.

The Mississippi Palisades State Park is rich in American Indian history.

Palisades is the word used to describe a line of lofty, steep cliffs usually seen along a river, and Mississippi Palisades, 3 miles north of Savanna in Carroll County, handsomely lives up to its name. Caves are evident as are dangerous sink holes-limestone caves that go straight down. Erosion has carved intriguing rock formations, including Indian Head, with its aquiline characteristics, and Twin Sisters, a pair of humanoid figures on the bluff tops. T

he U.S. Interior Department recognized the remarkable nature of this area when in 1973 it designated acreage here as a national landmark. You will love this place! If you come here to camp and forgot something, you only need to stop by the concession stand located in the park to pick up the camping supply or groceries you desire.

Illinois has it charm and so many different places to see.

You can go to Chicago for eclectic and seductive urban bike rides, or you can choose the peacefulness and wilderness of the pure nature. We go for Chicago, for sure! 

What is gonna be for you? Are you an urban or the lonely rider?