With live music festivals, river rafting opportunities, and boutique shops nestled along quaint main streets, the state of Illinois is the perfect vacation destination for a weekend getaway. Try a slice of deep-dish pizza in Chicago, or immerse yourself in the Amish community of Arthur. As for accommodations, there are many incredible Illinois vacation rentals to choose from like lakefront cabins on Lake Michigan or trendy lofts in the Windy City. Explore these unique cities in Illinois.

1. Chicago

chicago lakefront
Source: Flickr/Roman Boed

The Windy City is by far one of the biggest tourist draws to Illinois with its Magnificent Mile of shops and the famous Navy Pier that looks out over Lake Michigan. A summer weekend getaway offers opportunities to take a boat ride on the canal or bike the Lakefront Trail, while the winter winds encourage indoor tours of the Art Institute of Chicago or the Museum of Science and Industry. Sports enthusiasts can catch a game at Wrigley Field, while the adventurous ones in your crew can see the Chicago skyline on board the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. Get an expansive view of the city while riding up to the Sky Deck in Willis Tower when spending your weekend in Chicago.

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2. Galena

galena main street
Source: Flickr/Richie Diesterheft

When you need a break from the big city and are looking for small-town charm, Galena is the place to spend your weekend getaway in Illinois. Stroll along the quaint, historic downtown streets to shop at the Old Market House, or stop in the Ulysses S. Grant Museum to see historical artifacts and exhibits. The West Street Sculpture Park offers a romantic setting for couples, while the P.T. Murphy Magic Theatre provides an entertaining evening of musical, magic, and play performances. When visiting during the winter months, spend your days riding the slopes on skis or snowboards at Chestnut Mountain Resort.

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3. Springfield

a lincoln statue in springfield
Source: Flickr/Tom Shockey

As the home of Abraham Lincoln, Springfield is the place to be if you’re a history buff. See the state capital, and tour the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, located within minutes from vacation rentals in the city. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is open year-round as well as the Lincoln Tomb and War Memorials. When your tours have concluded, let the kids climb on board the playground at Washington Park, or take a leisurely stroll through the Henson Robinson Zoo.

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4. Carbondale

southern illinois evergreen
Source: Flickr/nathanmac87

Make Carbondale your vacation destination for a weekend getaway, and find yourself backpacking through Shawnee National Forest. See the Anvil Rock formations, climb your way to Camel Rock, or hike to the Devil’s Smoke Stack for spectacular views of the Illinois flatlands. This college town is also the home of Crab Orchard Lake, where you can take a fishing excursion with Shawnee Expeditions or search for treasures alongside the lakefront with SI Treasure Tours. Enjoy 18 holes of golf and spectacular views of the colorful leaves in the fall at Hickory Ridge Public Golf Center.

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5. Oglesby

starved rock forest path in oglesby
Source: Flickr/Rain0975

A vacation rental in Oglesby gives you a small-town feel but also access to the bluffs, canyons, and cliffs that make up Starved Rock State Park. Make Oglesby your vacation destination in the summer, and float down the river with Vermillion River Rafting, or make a splash indoors at the Grand Bear Falls Indoor Water Park. Hike Buffalo Rock State Park, and then stop in to sample the wines at the Illinois River Winery for the rest of the afternoon.

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6. Fulton

illinois windmill
Source: Flickr/Shannon McGee

See authentic windmills in action and embrace the Dutch heritage of Fulton when opting for a vacation rental in this Midwest city. Plan your weekend getaway in May to participate in the Dutch Days festival that brings dancing, crafting, and singing to the streets of this small Illinois town. Take a leisurely stroll on the Great River Trail, and stop in the Sawmill Museum for an educational demonstration. When your tour is complete, fill up on comfort food at the Sunrise Family Restaurant, or enjoy some late-night cocktails and bar food at Manny’s Too.

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7. Arthur

amish countryside in arthur il
Source: Flickr/Samdogs

This unique city in Illinois gives you the chance to share the road with horses and buggies, alongside only 2,300 residents that occupy Arthur. Known as one of the centers of the Amish community in Illinois, Arthur is a quaint place to enjoy some rest and relaxation with vacation rentals ranging from small cabins to homes. Browse the antique shops on Vine Street filled with handcrafted gifts by the Amish people, or take a drive through the country to the quilt shops. When vacationing in the fall, visit the city’s pumpkin patch, or enjoy the Fourth of July firework display in the summer. Fill up on some comfort food at Yoder’s Kitchen, or grab a quick bite at Pauly’s BBQ.

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8. Peoria

peoria at night
Source: Flickr/stantontcady

As one of Illinois’ largest cities along the Illinois River, Peoria offers vacationers a chance to walk around the riverfront area while also enjoying the modern attractions in the big city. Take the kids to the Peoria PlayHouse Children’s Museum to expel some of that pent-up energy, or wander around the Peoria Zoo to see lions, penguins, and monkeys. The Luthy Botanical Garden is the perfect place to get in some exercise while viewing the blooming wonders in the spring. When you want some more action, catch a basketball game or musical performance at the Peoria Civic Center.

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