The state of Illinois is a huge tourist destination because of Chicago, one of the highest-populated cities and most-visited cities in the country. Chicago is a huge reason to visit the state of Illinois, but here are some other reasons to head to this fantastic state.

Top 5 Reasons To Visit Illinois

1. Chicago

The city is one of the largest in the country, and travelers all over the world frequent it. Chicago is home to world-class museums, some of the best shopping in America, and great dining and nightlife. For the best sight seeing, you must check out Millennium Park, which holds the “Cloud Gate” sculpture, which is better known as “The Bean.” Millennium Park is one of the more typical spots for a photo-op in the city - The Bean can keep you interested for extremely long amounts of time and is very interesting to photograph. There’s plenty of other memorable architecture and art in the park as well. Willis Tower Skydeck is a great place for tourists to visit, and you can stand on the glass floor of the 103rd floor of the 110-story building and look straight down to the ground. The Navy Pier over Lake Michigan is also very popular, and lovely for a summer stroll. Chicago is also home to the amazing Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum of Natural History (home to the world’s largest T-Rex), Shedd Aquarium and the Lincoln Park Zoo. At night, check out a jazz concert and try the city's excellent craft beer.

2. Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park, north of Lowell, Illinois, is a beautiful place to explore, especially for nature lovers or anyone who wants a fun outdoor experience. There are 13 miles of trails in the state park that give visitors amazing scenic views of 18 forest canyons, cliffs on the Illinois River, and stunning waterfalls. There’s great fishing and boating on the Illinois River here as well. This is a fun destination in the summer because you can escape from the heat and humidity by cooling off on the water! In the fall, the leaves are absolutely beautiful colors and definitely worth a visit.

3. Sports

Illinois is one of the greatest states for sports. It is home to iconic legends like Michael Jordan, who played on the Chicago Bulls and is arguably the greatest player the NBA has ever seen. You can catch Chicago Cubs baseball games at the historic Wrigley Field or see the Chicago White Sox on the other side of the city. Chicago is home to the NFL’s Chicago Bears at Soldier Field and the Chicago Blackhawks, who have become a powerhouse in the NHL, winning three of the last six Stanley Cup trophies. Illinois is home to the University of Illinois, Northwestern University and Northern Illinois University who all have big sports programs as well, so sports lovers should pack their bags and go watch some games!

4. The Pizza

We couldn’t keep this one off the list. Illinois invented deep-dish style pizza, known as Chicago Deep Dish and you can get it 100 percent authentic in the state of Illinois at some of the best pizza joints in the entire country. In Chicago, head to Giordano's, Lou Malnati's, or Coalfire for a slice of heaven.

5. The Land of Lincoln, Springfield

Illinois is famous for being the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln and is known as “The Land of Lincoln.” Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States and he most famously abolished slavery in 1863. Springfield, Illinois is the capital of the state and features the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Abraham Lincoln’s home, which is now a historical site, the Lincoln Tomb and War Memorials, and other attractions that history and Lincoln buffs will love.

This article was written by Cameron Lafontaine.