Two states in the United States where there is the city and then there is the state itself - New York and Illinois. There's New York City and then there is Upstate New York - normally people talk about one or the other but not the State of New York. And then there's Chicago and there's Illinois. When most people think of visiting Illinois they think of visiting Chicago. But what about the whole rest of the state - but what else is there to do?

It is worth visiting the rest of Illinois outside of Chicago? Here are some of Tripadvisor's top suggestions of what there is to see and do in the rest of the state. There are often many things to see and do in stereotypically "boring" states like Iowa.


Blaum Bros. Distilling Co.

Blaum Bros. Distilling Co. on Tripadvisor has a five-star rating with over two thousand reviews. It is ranked as the top thing to do in Galena. Galena is a small town located in the northwestern corner of Illinois close to the Mississippi River and close to the borders of Wisconsin and Iowa.

Blaum Bros. is a family-owned and operated craft distillery and uses local grain from Jo Daviess Country. It produces handcrafted spirits (rye whiskey, vodka, gin, bourdon, and more). The distillery offers daily tours and tastings and has a gift shop and a craft cocktail bar. They say, "This is not your standard 5-minute talk, but a full sensory experience. Touch, taste, and feel the ingredients that make our spirits unique!"

Tour Schedule: 

  • Monday to Thursday: 3 pm | Friday: 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm| Saturday: 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm | Sunday: 1 pm, 3 pm
  • Cost: $10.00 Per Adult
  • Duration: Approx: 45 Minutes

Related: Ghost Towns And Giant Catsup Bottles: Things Worth Seeing In Illinois Besides Chicago

Dine At Lino's 

Looking for somewhere to eat outside of Chicago? Lino's is ranked as the first of 241 restaurants in Rockford and offers stunning Italian food (including vegetarian options). It boasts a 4.5-star rating with around 650 ratings.

One reviewer declared:

King of CarryOuts

"We’ve been coming here for years sitting in the dining for dinner with family and friends but that carry out special, man. Can’t beat it. The special salad and pizza are awesome. Staff is cool and the atmosphere is really neat. Love Linos"

Opening Hours: Sunday–Thursday: 4:30 pm–9:00 pm | Friday–Saturday: 4:30 pm–10:00 pm

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Illinois was Abraham Lincoln's home state, so travel to the capital Springfield (not the one from the Simpsons) and visit the museum and library dedicated to him. The Abraham Lincoln museum documents the life of the 16th president as well as the course of the American Civil War.

It also ranks as one of the most visited presidential libraries having an extensive collection on Lincoln as well as the collection of the Illinois State Historical Library (founded in 1889). Tripadvisor ranks it as the best thing to do in the state capital of Springfield.

Here one can:

"step inside key moments in Lincoln's life, from triumph to tragedy... Connect with Lincoln and his family through artifacts that can't be found anywhere else in the world. You'll feel like you're walking in Lincoln's shoes.

  • Museum Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM Daily (Last ticket sold at 4 PM) | Closed: New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day
  • Adults: $15
  • Seniors: (62+) $12
  • Children: (5-15) $6

Related: Skip Chicago And Check Out These Other Towns And Cities In Illinois (They're Worth It)

David Davis Mansion State Historic Site

For something else very different, visit the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site. Tripadvisor ranks it as the best thing to do in the town of Bloomington. The David Davis Mansion (also known as Clover Lawn) is a Victorian home that was once the residence of the Supreme Court justice and Senator David Davis.

The mansion tells the story of Judge David Davis and how he had a huge influence on Abraham Lincoln's legal and political career. He was also crucial to his success as president. It also tells the story of David's wife, Sarah Davis, and how she influenced him. This is one of the best places to learn about the story of Abraham Lincoln.

It has been a state museum since 1960 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and as a National Historic Landmark in 1975. The three-story yellow-brick mansion boasts 36 rooms in an Italianate villa style and a stunning ornamental garden with a barn, stable, carriage barn, and more.

  • Year Built: 1872
  • Hours: 9 am to 3:30 pm Wednesdays through Saturdays (Except Holidays)
  • Tour Times: 9:10, 10:10, 11:10, 12:10, 1:10, 2:10 and 3:10
  • Regular Tours: Free But A Donation of $10 Per Adult or $5 Per Child Is Suggested
  • Special Tours Fee Schedule: $10 Per Person, $100 Minimum

Illinois is a very large state and it is impossible to list out all the interesting things to see and do there. But next time visiting Chicago, be sure to plan a fun and interesting road trip around the state.

Next: How To Visit Chicago On A Budget, And Still See Some Popular Tourist Spots