Q: You're getting a lot of feedback from the MiniAbe commercials running now, tell us about it.
A: The Illinois Office of Tourism continually looks at unique and creative ways to showcase all of the travel experiences the state has to offer. With this approach, we're encouraging travelers to not only get out and see Illinois attractions, but also have fun experiencing all that there is to do - it's fun way to help people discover the state.
Q: Fall is a great time to get out and see all of those attractions. Where are the best places to see the Fall Colors now?
A: Fall is such a beautiful time of year in Illinois. The leaves are changing and they're gorgeous. This week is actually National Scenic Byways Week. And we've got seven nationally recognized scenic byways - so there are some great drives to see the fall colors and enjoy fall festivals -
3 TOP SPOTS FOR FALL COLORS
- The Great River Road in Illinois - from as far south as Alton to north in Galena - this drive is so popular with travelers - right along the banks of the Mississippi and you can see how the leaves change as you travel the western "coast" of Illinois. It's also a popular with bicyclists.
- Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest - it's like nature's rainbow in this beautiful state park in Southern Illinois, just stunning.
- Starved Rock State Park - Fall is an ideal time to explore this amazing park - located just an hour and half outside of Chicago. There's hiking, fishing, horseback riding. You can take a Fall Trolley tour followed by a one-hour leisurely ride on the Canal Boat down the Illinois & Michigan Canal. Spend the weekend at the charming Lodge or rent one of the remote cabins or camp on the campgrounds.
Q: What about FALL FESTIVALS - tell us about some of your favorites for families
A: Between corn mazes, pumpkin patches, scarecrows and ghost tours -Illinois has it all!
- St. Charles Scarecrow Festival - Oct. 11-13 Right on the banks of the beautiful Fox River, this nationally recognized festival is a tradition for thousands of families across the Midwest. The scarecrows are the highlight because they are handcrafted - some into big elaborate scenes - and are on display for visitors to vote for their favorite. There's also live entertainment, a carnival, arts&crafts show and plenty of food. Kids can even make their own scarecrow to take home. Admission parking, trolleys are all FREE
- The Great Pumpkin Patch (Arthur, IL) - thru end of October - this is truly a GREAT pumpkin patch located in Amish country just an hour outside of Springfield. There are 300 varieties of pumpkins, squash and gourds from around the world, all grown in the heart of Illinois. Visitors can pick their pumpkins, explore corn mazes and gardens, take a wagon ride, listen to live entertainment and enjoy farm fresh goodies from their own bakery.
- Alton Hauntings Tour - thru Nov 1 - Fun fact, Alton, IL is known as the most haunted town in the America -there are some great haunted tours to choose from - some scary and some fun and perfect for families. All are fascinating because they reveal some great historic facts about this charming Illinois town. The notorious McPike mansion, Alton's most haunted house, has been featured on several TV shows and investigated by numerous paranormal investigators who have found the hauntings to be authentic!
Q: What about the "spontaneous" gems in Illinois - like MiniAbe explored?
A: There's so much to do in this state. You can explore these attractions at enjoyillinois.com. But I'll leave you with a few ideas - did you know you could go ziplining in Illinois? There are two great ziplines in the state - Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour that is not only fun, but also so scenic in the fall with all of the leaves changing. And the Grafton Zipline just outside of Alton…I think MiniAbe should try that next!
For more information on Illinois travel, visit www.enjoyillinois.com.