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Illinois Bed and Breakfast Inns

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Travel Bytes

(Travel Bytes are local area descriptions provided by people who live in the area or have travelled through it. These comments are provided as is so please excuse the odd spelling or gramatical error.

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This is the state of the Illini Indians who have long since gone. The first Europeans to settle Illinois were the French, who established a fort where a river flowed into a big lake. That big lake was Lake Michigan, the river the Chicago River and the fort's site the city now called Chicago. 

The divide between Chicago and the downstate is dramatic.  The former is America's most representative big city, filled with awe-inspiring skyscrapers, world-class museums, neighborhood festivals, top-notch restaurants, and above all, the splendid lakefront.  Chicago can claim the world's best blues, pizza, and summer weather while maintaining a refreshingly humble attitude.  More honest than LA, friendlier than New York, and better than just about anywhere, Chicago is a state unto itself.

Just northwest of Chicago is the quaint little town of Elgin which honors its distinctive heritage with its well-maintained museums, historic districts, parks and with a movement towards renovation and architectural preservation of its downtown and riverfront area. Boasting the two-time award winning Elgin Symphony Orchestra, The Hemmens Cultural Center and Elgin Community College’s Visual and Performing Arts Center, Elgin is also home to the largest riverboat revenue producer in the state, The Grand Victoria Riverboat Casino. With easy access from the I-90 Tollway, a variety of excellent accommodations, multiple sports complex locations, and 1200 acres of parks welcomes our travelers to this Northern Fox Valley “hub”.

The downstate on the other hand, has miles and miles of empty prairie.  Springfield, the capital, has a couple of sites dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, Illinois' favorite son and 16th president of the United States.   Champaign is the site of the University of Illinois and as such has a fairly active social scene. 

Chicago is big on sailing. There is the Chicago to Mackinac Island race every year. If you stay in the Chicago Downtown Hostel, you can rent sailboats for the day via the Sailing Club. Or you can visit Northwestern University's Club boathouse where they might offer to rent you a sailboat for the day.

If you're into skydiving, there is a great cheap place to do that in Minier, IL just south of Bloomington-Normal. The only problem is you have to pay a fee to the farmers if you accidentally land in the corn fields and crush the corn on landing.

If you're into SCUBA diving, there are many wrecks in Lake Michigan, just off the coast from Chicago. The water is murky and cold, though. There is also some good diving in Lake Egypt in the National Park in Southern Illinois, as well as some abandoned rock quarries in Kankakee.

If you're into rock-climbing, Southern Illinois has some beautiful cliffs and canyons east of Marion.

Kayaking is available on the Vermillion River. Just make sure you take the correct route through the dams, because one kayaker failed to do that and died. (His buddy went through the dam and lived, though.)

Springfield has Lincoln's tomb and the state capitol.

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