| Central Illinois |
| Chicagoland |
| Northern Illinois |
| Saint Louis Metro East |
| Southern Illinois |
| Western Illinois |
- Springfield, state capital
- Bloomington-Normal, home of Illinois State University, Illinois Weslyan University and the grave site of Adlai Stevenson
- Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University
- Champaign-Urbana, home of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the state's largest university
- Chicago, the largest city in the Midwest and third-largest in the U.S.
- Galena, charming historical town along the Mississippi River
- Joliet, with casinos, a speedway and the state's most infamous prison
- Nauvoo, founded by Mormon Joseph Smith, and surprisingly has the oldest winery in the state
- Peoria, a classic Midwestern "Everytown"
- Cahokia Mounds is a surprising find in Illinois - the center of a prehistoric Native American city and one of only 20 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the U.S.
- Lewis and Clark Trail - Between May 1804 and September 1806, 32 men, one woman, and a baby traveled from the plains of the Midwest to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. They called themselves the Corps of Discovery.
- Casino Queen and the Gateway Geyser - Both are located on the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, IL
- Shawnee National Forest
- Starved Rock State Park
- Ferne Clyffe State Park
- Kickapoo State Park
- Pere Marquette State Park
- Anna, located along Shawnee Hills Wine Trail
Illinois is a mostly flat plains state, with the majority being farmland except for the river valleys and the south, which are hilly and forested.
English is the dominant language in the state of Illinois. Spanish is widely spoken in the Chicago Metropolitan area by its large Hispanic population, though not well understood outside of Chicagoland. Polish and Chinese are the third and fourth most spoken languages within the state, but only within Chicago and its suburbs.
Illinois is accessed through interstates 39, 90, & 94 through Wisconsin, 74 and 80 through Iowa, 55, 57, 64, 70, and 72 through Missouri, 24 through Kentucky, and 64, 70, 74, 80, 90, and 94 through Indiana
Amtrak serves many different areas of Illinois. All routes start and end in Chicago. You can get into Chicago from virtually all directions, east coast and west coast, north and south. There are numerous daily trains to and from Milwaukee and it is reasonably fast and reliable. There is daily service (the Empire Builder) to/from from Seattle/Portland, Oregon by way of Milwaukee. You can also get in from Washington DC, New York, and Boston on various daily trains. There are many local trains that serve downstate and southern Illinois that also serve long distance locations. Those routes are as follows:
The UP line from Chicago-St. Louis serves Summit, Joliet, Dwight, Pontiac, Bloomington-Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, Carlinville, Alton, and finally St. Louis. There are 4 trains each day, each way. One of those trains that serves this route is the Texas Eagle, and it will bring you into Illinois from San Antonio, Dallas, Arkansas, and Missouri.
The BNSF route from Chicago-Galesburg-Quincy. Only local service serves the Quincy portion of the line. The other service is provided by 2 daily long distance trains coming from either Los Angeles (the Southwest Chief) or San Francisco via Salt Lake City and Denver (the California Zephyr).
The CN route from Chicago-Carbondale has 3 trains each way daily. One long distance train is provided each way daily and will take you to/from New Orleans via Jackson, Mississippi and Memphis.
There is also a daily train to and from Indianapolis with continuing service on certain days of the week to/from Washington D.C. There is regular daily service to/from Washington D.C. via Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.
Chicago has two major airports, O'Hare and Midway. Midway is smaller and closer to the downtown. There are many other airports with regional service in the state, including in Springfield, Rockford, Peoria, Bloomington-Normal, and in St. Louis, across the river from Illinois.
Car travel is best for the majority of the state, easily accessed by interstates. Numerous highways closer to Chicago are tollways, but the rest of the highways are free. EZ-Pass users from the eastern U.S. can use their transponders on the Illinois Tollway at all toll booths. The price for EZ-Pass and I-Pass Users is half the cash price listed on the sign at the toll booth.
Train travel is another way to get around Illinois. Metra train lines serves Chicago and the surrounding suburbs and Amtrak serves significant portions of the rest of the state. While Metra trains usually run on time, Amtrak trains are more prone to running late. Check with Amtrak before making the trip.
Greyhound buses, Megabus discount buses and it's sister bus company, Coach USA, serves many Illinois locales. Chicago and the nearby suburbs are served by the PACE bus system and many large Illinois cities have bus systems of their own.
In the Loop, Chicago's commercial district with bustling elevated train tracks and great architecture:
- Sears Tower - one of the tallest buildings in the world, it has an observation deck on the 103rd floor
- Grant Park for musical performances and Millennium Park for summer fun
- The Art Institute of Chicago - one of the finest art museums in the world
In the Near North:
- John Hancock Center A bit shorter, but with a better observation deck
- The Magnificent Mile Put simply, shoppers' paradise.
- Navy Pier Entertainment center with many attractions including the Chicago Children's Museum, mini golf, ferris wheel, botanic gardens, and boat cruises
In the Near South, including the Museum Campus:
- The Field Museum The premier natural history museum in the Midwest, with one of the best preserved T-Rex skeletons on display
- The Adler Planetarium The first planetarium in North America
- The Shedd Aquarium Great lakefront aquarium
In Hyde Park:
- Museum of Science and Industry The best science museum in the Midwest, with hundreds of exhibits including a German submarine, high speed 1930s train, Boeing 727 jet, and an immense train set.
- The University of Chicago A premier institution of learning in the Midwest
- Springfield - The state capital has the capitol building, as well as Abraham Lincoln's tomb, home, and new presidential library. Be sure to check out the Old State Capital as well, notable for its Lincoln heritage and also as the site of U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama's declaration of Joe Biden as his running mate in the 2008 presidential race.
- Champaign-Urbana is one of downstate Illinois's most prized cities. It is the regional capital of Illinois. It is a very urban oasis in the middle of the prairie. Outside of Chicago, it holds the state's largest ethnic population. There are many museums there. Champaign-Urbana is known for historic Memorial Stadium, where Illini Football plays, and for its nightlife.
Chicago has many specialties, the most famous of which would have to be its hot dogs and its deep dish pizza. Central Illinois is known for its Horseshoe Sandwich, an open-faced sandwich of toast, hamburger, french fries, and cheese sauce, with regional variations.
The rural water downstate, excluding municipal water but including untreated spring water has a "sulphur" taste and odor to it. It is safe to drink, but the odor and taste can be hard to swallow.
Areas of Illinois away from Lake Michigan — e.g., places other than Chicago — have a high occurrence of tornadoes. You might want to check the Tornado safety page if you are visiting Illinois. In March of 2006, Springfield was hit with a tornado and the city was apparently affected in every area. East St. Louis is one of the worst crime cities in the country and has little touristic interest except for the casino riverboat. Chicago is mostly safe except for certain neighborhoods that are generally along the South and West sides.
- Wisconsin - The Dairy State borders Illinois to the north.
- Iowa - Rural Iowa lies along Illinois' northwestern border and provides the opportunity to explore America's agricultural heartland.
- Missouri - The home of St. Louis, the gateway to the west, is just a short journey across Illinois' southwestern border.
- Kentucky - Located southeast of Illinois, Kentucky is known for its rolling hills, horses, and rural inhabitants, offering travelers a less-visited but tremendously beautiful destination.
- Indiana - Illinois' eastern neighbor is home to the football tradition of Notre Dame and the Indianapolis 500.