Illinois is so much more than the Windy City. The state offers forests, beaches, stunning cliff faces, and a surprising amount of waterfalls that may make you think you’re in Oregon, not the midwest. But fortunately, you don’t have to travel too far from the Windy City (which itself has some lovely hikes) to experience them.
The best Illinois state parks highlight the diversity of the state, ranging from remote wooded areas to sections of urban bliss with great restaurants just steps away. If you’re a photographer — and that includes photographers who exclusively shoot on smartphones — you’ll find no shortage of inspirational vistas. And it’s not just the scenery that’s hard to resist. Cute cabin rentals are available at some of the best Illinois state parks below, as are scenic places to pitch a tent and seriously high vertical climbs for hikers who want to challenge their leg muscles.