LET TRAVELKATZ PLAN YOUR ILLINOIS VACATION PACKAGE
Travelkatz will put together an Illinois Vacation Package custom tailored just for you. We handle all aspects of your trip so you can sit back, relax and enjoy. We provide three options for every state in the USA. If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate in contacting us.
Illinois Gardens – Illinois is a midwestern state bordering Indiana and the Mississippi River. Nicknamed “the Prairie State,” it’s marked by farmland, forests, rolling hills and wetlands. Chicago, one of the largest cities in the U.S, is in the northeast on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Chicago Botanic Garden: This garden opened 50 years ago as a beautiful place to visit, and it has matured into one of the world’s great living museums and conservation science centers. Every year, more than one million people visit the 28 gardens and four natural areas, uniquely situated on 385 acres on and around nine islands, with six miles of lake shoreline. The Garden also has a renowned Bonsai Collection. Just Beautiful! You can see the care that has gone into maintaining the many flowers, trees, and other plants on the grounds. There are benches along the walkways so a person can sit if they need to rest or if they just want to sit and bask in the beautiful surroundings. Be sure to visit the Japanese gardens as well as the Bulb Garden. It’s a very beautiful place to visit in all seasons, and a must when you visit Chicago. It is situated just 45 min. from downtown and well connected with public transport so you can get to this fabulous garden in the town of Glencoe.
Luthy Botanical Garden: Spread across over 5 acres in Glen Oak Park, Luthy is home to a tropical conservatory, a theme garden, and seasonal shows, including the Poinsettia Show throughout November and December. The sprawling garden is also a beautiful background for weddings, showers, or your next corporate event! The gardens offer over a dozen theme gardens, educational programs, numerous events, a rotating sculpture exhibit and magnificent floral displays. The Conservatory floral shows include a Spring Show, Orchid Show, Chrysanthemum Show and Poinsettia Show. This Garden is proud member of the American Public Garden Association (APGA) and is in Peoria.
Quad City Botanical Center: As a public garden they maintain hundreds of plants ranging from tropical varieties to regional zone five perennials. A garden for all season, the tropical atrium is splendid throughout the winter months, and the rare conifer collection is unique to the Quad Cities. In spring, flowering bulbs enliven the garden, including a stunning iris collection. Other special collections include day lilies, mums, and ornamental grasses. The outdoor butterfly garden attracts pollinators by the hundreds and is lively from early spring to late fall when the Monarchs start their migration. The Center is open to the public 360 days a year and the indoor-outdoor horticultural gardens have a seasonal train, a teaching greenhouse, library, and gift shop. All this beauty is found in Rock Island.
Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens: This is such a refreshing and relaxing experience to just walk around or sit and enjoy beautiful plants and views. The area with the pond has fascinating fish; quarters will get food from a machine to feed them and watch them quickly flock to the food. You could watch them for hours if you are so incline. The gardens boast some of the most beautiful and diverse flora in east-central Illinois. It also features the award-winning Miriam Davies Memorial Enabling Garden. You will find this unique garden in Mahomet.
Lincoln Park Conservatory: This is a conservatory and botanical garden housed under an extraordinary Victorian Era glass dome which was built in 1893. The conservatory contains four rooms displaying exotic plants from around the world, including rare orchids. A formal garden, one of the oldest public gardens, designed and planted in the late 1870s, is situated in front of the conservatory. Of special interest is the Palm House, which contains Garden Figure, a sculpture by Frederick Hibbard, and the Fern Room, which opened in 1895 and contains plants of the forest floor, primarily a vast collection of ferns and one of the most historical plants, the cycads. Also there is the Schiller Monument, at the south end of the garden, which is a copy of an original monument to German poet Friedrich Schiller; the Eli Bates Fountain, also known as Storks at Play, is located in the center of the formal garden and installed in 1887 as a gift from Eli Bates, a wealthy businessman and the Conifer Garden, trees and shrubs with needle-like leaves that bear cones, is located along the west side and front of the conservatory. Find this Conservatory in the city of Chicago.
If Illinois and its beautiful gardens is on your “bucket” list, please call TravelKatz at 352-277-7300 so we may help you and yours have a wonderful vacation there.
Illinois State Parks:
Illinois State Parks – Illinois is a midwestern state bordering Indiana in the east and the Mississippi River in the west. Nicknamed “the Prairie State,” it’s marked by farmland, forests, rolling hills and wetlands. Chicago, one of the largest cities in the U.S, is in the northeast on the shores of Lake Michigan. It’s famous for its multi-floor skyscrapers, such as the sleek, Willis Tower and the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower. Springfield is the capital. In the state of Illinois there are: 69 State Parks, 11 State Recreation Areas, 6 State Forests, 2 State Memorials, State Nature Preserve, 5 State Natural Areas, 17 State Wildlife Areas, and a State Wildlife Management Area. Some will allow camping and some are good for the day’s adventure. Check with TravelKatz to plan your trip.
Starved Rock State Park: Known for its magnificent rock formations of St. Peter sandstone, this scenic park offers many hiking and horseback riding trails plus fishing and boating along the banks of the Illinois River. Most people visiting this place find it “good for the soul”. Between the breathtaking scenery of the Illinois River, the epic waterfalls, French Canyon, and its connecting trail to Wildcat Canyon makes for an incredible experience. Add the tower of rock that is the literal “Starved Rock”, this park is the most amazing natural beauty in Illinois. The onsite restaurant has good food too. You will find this park in Utica and only about a two hours’ drive from Chicago near Utica.
Matthiessen State Park: We suggest that after spending most of the day at neighboring Starved Rock state park. you head directly for the sunflower field in the southern part of the park. Drive south past the main entrance to the park and enter, instead, at the “River Area” entrance. You will soon find yourself at a massive, neatly manicured lawn with a red windsock; a model plane airfield for aficionados to use to land and take off with their flying machines. Beyond that you will see the bright yellow sunflower field. Please do not cross the runway but follow the signs directing you to the sunflower field. You will be amazed at the beauty of these flowers. The sunflowers bloom in the second week of July and peak by the end of the month so you will need to time your visit for this beautiful show. Also found in Utica.
Silver Springs State Park: This park is a perfect place to take a walk or just sit and take in the scenery during any of the seasons! Whether you are looking for a short path along one of the lakes or a longer trek down the paths along the Fox River you can’t go wrong. There are picnic areas, a bait and seasonal snack shop, peddle boats, cross country ski paths and much more! The famous Farnsworth house is visible depending upon which end of the park you are! Getting to Silver Springs takes you on a nice ride through some very friendly towns that offer something for everyone! Enjoy your day in this park in Yorkville.
Mississippi Palisades State Park: Rich in American Native Indian history, this 2,500-acre park offers a variety of outdoor activities including boating, fishing, hunting, picnicking, and hiking. If you enjoy hiking in a forest in the fall this is a great place to visit. Beautiful colors! It has the best marked trails on a great trail map. You can also enjoy the overviews at the south park entrance by driving to easily accessible viewing points. The Park Ranger is helpful, and offers great information. Camp sites are in abundance and facilities are available. You will find is camping park in Savanna.
Giant City State Park: This park has well marked trails and beautiful rock formations. Make sure you stop at the visitor center. They make great recommendations as to what type of hike you want to do. The information is interesting, and paths of different ability are available. The Arrowwood Trail which is right by visitor center is easy to walk. The Giant City (moderate) and Devil’s Standtable Nature Trails (rugged) are also good. Be sure to wear good walking shoes. The surroundings are gorgeous and bathrooms are available and clean. We would definitely recommend coming here to hike and stay over as the cabins in the park looked nice. You find this park in Makanda.
TravelKatz is looking forward to helping you, your family, and friends to come and enjoy the state parks of Illinois. Chat with us at www.travelkatz.com or call us at 352-277-7300.
Illinois Museums – As one of the mid-western states, Illinois does not fall short of showing off some amazing museums. Boarding the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan, there is wonderful history and wonderful places to visit all over the state.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: Staffed with very friendly and informative people, they will enjoy answering your questions. There are many photos and exhibits related to the Lincoln family during their time in Springfield and Washington. The political cartoons provide amazing insight into life in 1860s. You can stroll at your own pace and see everything. This museum shows different points of view, including those of Lincoln’s contemporaries are thought-provoking. The walk through his life, shown in life-size scenes, is well-done. Lots of reading to do in plaques balanced out by videos, sound bites, and visual presentations, etc. Young children will love Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic, a place where they can relax and play while being exposed to a taste of Lincoln’s life and times. Plan to spend about three hours if you really want to see, read, and enjoy everything. Make sure to visit Lincoln’s home about five blocks away. The Family Tomb is a couple miles away. Both are worth the time to visit while you are there, in Springfield.
Lincoln Home – National Historic Site: Right in downtown Springfield, just a few blocks from the Lincoln Library and Museum. There is no entry fee, as this is part of our National Park system. The house is well-cared-for and there is a guided tour through the home – you walk through most rooms and get a good view from the hall of the smaller bedrooms – you see everything on first and second floors. You will have a ticket from the visitor’s center, then walk a short block up the street to the house. The site includes 3-4 blocks of homes that have been preserved to show the neighborhood pretty much like it was during Lincoln’s time there. A nice walk up and down the street with informative plaques in front of homes. A nice walk around in Springfield.
American Writers Museum: This is a great little museum for people who love reading and also lovers of History; located in a beautiful, grand building. Through innovative and dynamic state-of-the-art exhibitions, as well as compelling programming, this museum educates, enriches, provokes, and inspires visitors of all ages. Special exhibits are free with paid admission, they are: My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today, and Tools of the Trade. The Little Museum Shop is a good place to get mementos. The staff is very friendly, helpful and professional. While in Chicago visit this museum.
Discovery Center Museum: This museum is a gem in the Midwest. There are many interactive displays and lots to learn. A great place to take kids of all ages. Some favorites were the bubble area, the tornado tube, the farm area, and the list could go on. The one downside is there is no food or restaurants at the museum. Otherwise, it’s a wonderful place to visit in Rockford.
IL Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum: A must see stop for anyone taking the Route 66 journey, but make sure you go around the back and spend a little time in the town which is quaint and friendly. There is so much more to see at the museum than just Route 66 exhibitions, you’ll really be surprised. A great place to start your immersion of Route 66, it is housed in a historic fire station, with several different rooms to venture through. The WWII display is excellent so it’s not just about the ‘mother road’. The staff is most friendly, well worth your time. Begin your Route 66 journey in Pontiac.
Give TravelKatz a call at 352-277-7300 or go to vacationnationradio.com and ‘chat’ with us. We will make Illinois a special vacation for you and your family.
If you think Illinois falls short in the festival department; you think wrong! There are some really wonderful times and places to enjoy throughout the year all the way from Chicago to the Ohio River!
Ribfest Chicago: Who do we love? Dad! What does Dad love? Ribs! Give Dad what he loves this Father’s Day weekend at the 21st annual Ribfest Chicago! That’s right – the city’s most highly anticipated summer festival is moving to June 14, 15 and 16 in 2019! Located in the beloved Northcenter neighborhood, you can expect high-quality and diverse food selections and premier musical entertainment! Family entertainment will include music, dance, games and crafts. Other weekend highlights include the Celebrity Judging and People’s Choice competitions to award the prizes for Best Ribs. Pick up your ballot at the festival gate to help decide who should take home the title.
72nd Annual Mendota Sweet Corn Festival: Tons of free, hot, buttered, delicious Del Monte sweet corn will
be the highlight of the 72nd annual Sweet Corn Festival to be held in Mendota, Illinois. Don’t miss the excitement for the festival offers a variety of entertainment events for the entire family. The events take place primarily in the downtown area, with no admission fees or parking fees. Free musical entertainment is in abundance. The Crafters Market Place and flea market features over 200 dealers in hand-made crafts and unique merchandise. There is a Queen Pageant, beer garden with live bands, grand parade and a new carnival with more rides and games for both adults and children, plus much more. August 8 – 11, 2019.
Water Lantern Festival: This festival is filled with fun, happiness, hope, and great memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. This is a family friendly event that can be shared by everyone. Friends, families, neighbors, and lots of people that you haven’t met can come together to create a peaceful, memorable experience. Watch and experience the launching of the water lanterns – Beautiful! Gates Open 5:30 – 9:00; Enjoy Food Trucks, Music, and have lots of Fun! Design your lantern between 9:30 – 10:30 then enjoy the Lantern Launch at 5:30
Mushroom Festival: Come listen to live music, browse venders, grab lunch in the restaurant, taste local wines and learn all there is to know about mushrooms. The Great Morel Hunt will be held at 1 p.m. (weather and morel permitting). Join fellow hunters from all over the area as they scan the ground for these delicious delicacies. Then bring your finds back to The Lodge and you can win a great prize! Find the smallest morel, the largest morel or the most morels and you just might go home with a free night’s stay. It’s free. Sun, May 5.
Lake Forest Festival and Fireworks: Created by the Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Foundation in 2006, the Lake Forest Festival and Fireworks is an annual community event and fundraiser completely run by volunteers to provide a safe and fun environment for families celebrating Independence Day. Over the years, we have brought in award-winning entertainers including The Village People, KC and the Sunshine Band, Eddie Money, and Rick Springfield. Thursday, July 04 from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
34th Annual Chicago Gospel Music Festival: Chicago Gospel Music Festival will present the top gospel artists in the country. Over the years, the festival has featured traditional choirs to contemporary urban gospel mixed with hip-hop and house music. Friday, May 31, noon–4pm, & Saturday, June 1, 11am–9:30pm
Arthur Cheese Festival: Arthur’s biggest weekend. 3 full days of street festival. Crafts, food, flea market, sidewalk sales, parade, kid rides and games, and lots of cheese. An Auto show, live entertainment, 10k run, Amish strongman competition, antique tractor show; there’s something for everyone. Free cheese each day. August 31 -September 2
Other Festivals: Sheep Festival and Craft Festival
PLACE OF INTEREST
Matthiessen State Park
Illinois’ very own Matthiessen State Park combines canyons, streams, prairie and forest to delight visitors. Located in central LaSalle County, approximately 4 miles south of Utica and 3 miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology, as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife. All of this, along with park and picnic facilities, make Matthiessen State Park a popular choice for an outing.
Picnicking: The Dells Area of the Matthiessen State Park provides a perfect setting for picnics and an afternoon of relaxation. This area has picnic tables, water fountains and playground equipment, as well as a large parking lot and toilet facilities. An added attraction is the restored fort representative of the fortifications the French built in the Midwest during the 1600s and early 1700s. The main trail to the Cascade Falls area originates in this area. To the south, at the Vermilion River Area, additional picnic shelters, picnic tables, grills and drinking fountains provide convenient picnic facilities. Alcohol is prohibited Jan. 1 through May 31 in the picnic area.
Trails: Matthiessen State Park has 5 miles of well-marked, well-surfaced hiking trails for a relaxing walk or a vigorous hike. Large trail maps are located at all major trail intersections, so visitors can choose a variety of routes. The upper area and bluff tops are easy hiking paths for the novice, but the trails into the interiors of the two dells may be difficult to negotiate, particularly during spring and early summer. Hikers must stay on marked trails, as steep cliffs and deep canyons can be dangerous. Hikers will marvel at the plant and animal life along the trails and have an unparalleled view of geological wonders as they travel through the park. Alcohol is prohibited on all trails.
Cross Country Skiing: There are 6 miles of cross-country ski trails with ski rental available weekends from December through March.
Horseback Riding/Equestrian Camping/Mountain Bikes: The park provides 9 miles of multi-use mountain bike/ horseback riding trails for those who own their own horse or mountain bike. The trails are color coded and marked with the yield order triangle which symbolizes that all users yield to horse riders. An equestrian campground for horseback riders and their horses is located west of Route 178 between Route 71 and the Dells Area entrance. Alcohol is prohibited in all campgrounds. The horseback riders camping, and multi-use trails are open from April 15 (weather permitting-determined by park staff) to October 31.
Hunting: For details on hunting programs, check with Travelkatz for information for Matthiessen, Starved Rock, Sandy Ford and Mitchell’s Grove.
Other Activities: A field archery range with a sight-in area and four separate targets is in the northwestern portion of Matthiessen State Park near Deer Park Country Club just off Illinois Route 71. A radio-controlled model airplane field is located at the Vermilion River Area. Hobbyists and visitors will enjoy flying or watching as these crafts are maneuvered around this open field area.
We recommend flying into Peoria Airport from Tampa, rent a car and drive to Utica where you and your family can enjoy Matthiessen State Park as well as several others in Utica’s area. Just give us a call at 352-277-7300 and we will make a fun filled vacation for you and yours.
Illinois State Capital: Springfield
Originally called Springfield for the nearby Spring Creek, the city was briefly renamed Calhoun in the 1820s, for politician John C. Calhoun. But the name never caught on with the city’s residents, who continued to call the city Springfield, either out of distaste for the politician or simply out of habit. Eventually, giving in to local pressure, the city was officially re-named Springfield in 1833. This Illinois Vacation Package that follows is an ideal way to visit this state.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: This is a wonderful state of the art museum! With two shows, one with holographs and the other is a 4D Theater! There is a room full of toys, dress up clothes and wonderful imagination sparking objects for the little ones in your group. This museum is a moving tribute to one of our finest Presidents. The addition exhibits are breathtaking. Ghosts of the Library and the Union Theater will be your favorite. The movies are complete with holograms, sound effects, and motion; the lifelike figures; and the actual memorabilia that President Lincoln owned. The historical video presentation in the Union Theater is titled “Through His Eyes” and tells Abe’s story. Hold onto your seats as the video, sound and light effects are over the top. The static displays that intertwine everything are great also. His Top Hat, Cane, Mary’s Necklace, everything explained and then some. You’ll learn more about him than you even knew and why he was such a great president. 4 hours is a perfect time.
Illinois State Museum: The Illinois State Museum has so much to see – plan on spending at least a few hours here. favorite permanent exhibits are the four full-size dioramas detailing lives of pre-historic Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian Native cultures and historic Indians. Reasonable fees and free to seniors and ISM donors. Parts of the museum are “old-school”/classic museum and others are interactive and especially for youngsters. This museum has an exhibit of natural history of Illinois on the ground floor, and on the second floor there were exhibits of Native American history, Carl Sandburg’s home, and artwork by Illinois residents. Curious about the Civil War or if you want in depth coverage this is the place to go. The displays are all awe inspiring and the personal interact with Abe interesting. Very informational. Kids can dig for fossils, load a jeep, crawl through a cave, and have fun at the Illinois State Museum’s Play Museum – and it’s FREE!
Lincoln Home National Historic Site: A free guided tour by the U.S. Park Service. Besides his home, there are two other houses to visit. One showing how his home was added onto and the other on how the 4 square blocks were preserved. A great snapshot of 1800’s history and where/how one of our greatest presidents lived his adult life. The home still has most of the Lincolns’ actual furnishings. Your guide is very knowledgeable and attentive. He really brings the home and furnishings to life with the anecdotal stories he’ll tell. You could sense his love of the Lincoln family and his respect of all they became. After touring their home, and hearing the stories, you’ll almost feel as though you were invited in by, and spent time with Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln yourself. Don’t miss the chance to immerse yourself in the history of them in the essence of their belongings.
Dana-Thomas House: This house really is a treasure, and somewhat of a miracle that it exists virtually intact with most of the furnishings, stained glass, and decorative arts that it had when it was built in 1902-1904. You’re able to visit most of the house on guided tours that leave regularly from the visitor’s center that’s in the adjacent coach house. The tour is preceded by a short video on the history of the house, and your guide is friendly, professional, and very well informed. There’s a small parking lot diagonally across the railroad tracks from the house. They ask for donations to help maintain the house, but no set fee is required. The house itself really is a marvel – an amazing example of Wright’s Prairie Style, done for a client with a lot of money, so it’s both large and lavish. The spaces are really quite amazing, especially when the sunlight comes through some of the many stained glass windows. Definitely go to this house if you are a Wright fan, or an arts and crafts fan, or just to see an amazing piece of history and architecture.
Lincoln Tomb & War Memorials: Just because the door is closed doesn’t mean you can’t go in. Just inside you are greeted by an attendant who is very knowledgeable of the history of the monument and tomb, how his was built, rebuilt, additions and Lincoln family burials, including the one that isn’t there. Lincoln’s Tomb is simple but majestic at the same time. Just like he was. The various statues around the perimeter are great also. You can feel the history reeking from the place. Make this your third stop on your own one day tour and it is a fitting way to end it. Be sure to go to your library and get the CD that has the story of Lincoln’s body and how many times it was moved and how the gang tried to steal it.
Illinois State Capitol: Tours of the Capitol include the wacky early years of statehood – including why the Congress of the era wanted to have this state formed ( pay for the Illinois- Michigan Canal that would allow circumnavigation of the then United States). The building itself was the first statehouse after the federal Capitol was completed and it became the model for over a dozen other state capitols built afterwards. Tour it with the official guides, but do it on weekdays – visitors cannot go to upper floors on weekends. This capitol building is simply spectacular! The variety of wood, stone, marble and crystal is staggering. The tour is free and the guide is fun, humorous and very thorough. The guide will answer any questions and let you stay behind and take all the pictures you want. A wonderful experience!
Flights to Springfield are direct from Tampa and lots of choices for hotels. Call TravelKatz – 352-277-7300 if going to Springfield, Illinois is on your state-side to do list…we’ll be happy to create a wonderful vacation for you and your fellow travelers.
ILLINOIS VACATION PACKAGE MADE EASY
Another option for our Illinois Vacation Package is the Natural Wonder. See our selection of choice below to see if it fancies your style. Please don’t hesitate in contacting us with any questions or concerns.
ILLINOIS Natural Wonder: Lake Michigan
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