Sometimes spending quality time with your sweetheart is difficult when daily life gets in the way. When it’s time to plan a romantic weekend getaway, look no further than Illinois to put the spark back into your relationship. Book a stay at an Illinois vacation rental in a trendy downtown area or a small town nestled along Lake Michigan. You can spend a weekend exploring the big city, local history, or national and state parks. Here’s a look at the eight most noteworthy romantic getaway spots in Illinois.

1. Chicago

As the largest city in Illinois and the third largest in the country, Illinois is a great vacation destination for a romantic weekend. Explore the Art Institute of Chicago with its permanent collection containing works from the Old Masters to the Impressionists. Snuggle close together as you watch the sunset on the iconic Navy Pier that stretches out over Lake Michigan. Grab a couple of souvenirs from one of the gift shops and brave the rides together. For a romantic meal, share a pot of fondue together at Geja’s Cafe, or opt for a traditional steak dinner at Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf.

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2. Bloomington

Bloomington offers a rich history as a former home of the Kickapoo Native Americans and outdoor activities with its more than 40 parks. There’s something romantic and nostalgic about an old Victorian home, and you can tour the David Davis Mansion that dates back to the 1800s. The Ewing Manor is another great home with available tours. You wouldn’t normally consider a zoo romantic, but the Miller Park Zoo is your chance to see some of the rarest big cats in one location, including the Sumatran Tiger and Amur Leopard. Spend some time encouraging each other to new heights at the Upper Limits Climbing Gym. After a quick safety briefing, choose your course and climb together to reach the top of the easy course or go for something a little more difficult.

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3. Quincy

Slow down and take life a little slower when Quincy is your vacation destination. The town offers stunning views of the Mighty Mississippi from its bluff overlooking the river and a long, rich history as part of the Underground Railroad. Start your romantic weekend at Villa Kathrine. This Moroccan-styled manor home serves as the town’s visitors center and has views that you don’t want to miss. Stroll through the Downtown Quincy Historic District to take in the beautiful buildings that date from the 1800s and 1900s. For a romantic dinner, choose a table by the window at Pier Restaurant with its location along the Mississippi River.

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4. Alton

Alton is another great small town along the banks of the Mississippi River for some quality time together. This small town was the birthplace of jazz musician Miles Davis, and it was here that Lincoln and Douglas held their final debate before the presidential election of 1858. Located in a former college building, Alton Museum of History and Art offers a look at the town and state’s history and the artwork of regional artists. Pack a picnic lunch and binoculars before leaving your vacation rental for a day together at the Audubon Center at Riverlands, where you can look for birds or just hold hands as you wander through the woods.

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5. Springfield

The state’s capital city and birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, Springfield makes a great place for a weekend getaway. A visit to the Illinois Capitol Building should be up first on your agenda when you arrive Friday afternoon for a gander at this stately building. While in town, take a tour of the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and stop by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to learn more about this president. Explore how architecture and nature can blend together with a tour of the Dana-Thomas House designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Indigo Restaurant offers a menu with offerings from around the world in a contemporary setting for a quiet meal together.

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6. Rockford

For a large city, Rockford offers an abundance of green spaces for a couple to explore with its more than 20,000 acres and four rivers. Rent kayaks and explore the lake at Rock Cut State Park. If you want to explore the past, step back in time at the Midway Village. Here, there are volunteers dressed in period clothing that take you on a tour of the exhibits and teach you about the pioneering days in Illinois. If you have a dino lover in your relationship, then a trip to the Burpee Museum of Natural History to see its completely assembled T-Rex skeleton is a must.

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7. Evanston

As home to Northwestern University, Evanston is a funky little town with a trendy historic downtown area filled with great restaurants, eclectic shopping, and bars that stay open until all hours. There’s a certain romance about lighthouses, and Grosse Point Lighthouse, built in 1873, is no different. Bring a picnic lunch to Lighthouse Park and soak up the ambiance of this lighthouse. When the weather is nice, stroll hand-in-hand through the Merrick Rose Garden to smell the wonderful fragrance and see the beauty of these delicate flowers. The Stained Glass is the perfect spot for a romantic meal with its seasonal menu and extensive wine list.

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8. Galena

Historic architecture is high on the agenda with a weekend in Galena. This small town has a rich history as a mining town, and over 80 percent of the buildings in its downtown area are historic, including French Colonial, Greek Revival, and Italianate homes. In fact, former American president Ulysses S. Grant once lived here. Take a romantic cruise out on an old-timey paddleboat with Mississippi Explorer Cruises at Chestnut Mountain Resort.

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