Illinois tourism director shares unique travel destinations ahead of Memorial Day

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, May 20, 2024
Illinois tourism director shares unique travel destinations
From Route 66 to hiking trails, Illinois has a lot to offer those looking for a Memorial Day weekend trip.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Memorial Day marks a big week for the summer travel season.

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Millions of people will travel by plane, but road trips are just as popular.

RELATED: Our Chicago: Memorial Day weekend and summer travel

For those looking for a driving destination, Illinois has a lot to offer.

Daniel Thomas, deputy director for the Illinois Office of Tourism, said one of the best destinations to visit on a weekend trip is Rock Cut State Park near Rockford.

The park has 40 miles of trails for walking, hiking or biking. There are also opportunities to kayak.

Starved Rock is a popular local spot, but Thomas said that two nearby parks are equally enjoyable destinations.

"People don't realize really close there, only seven minutes away, is Matthiessen State Park. And, of course, Buffalo Rock State Park," he said.

Thomas said these destinations are great for multigenerational trips.

"Children are traveling not only with their parents, but their grandparents. Family Travel Association has got some really great research that 54% of grandparents are actually booking and planning their travels," Thomas said.

For a more spontaneous trip, Thomas suggests taking a road trip down Route 66.

The iconic route runs through Illinois, and certain towns are dedicated to preserving its history.

Pontiac is home to the Route 66 Hall of Fame Museum, which features thousands of pieces of historical memorabilia and artifacts.

In Springfield, Shea's Gas Station is one of the original gas stations on the route, and has been preserved over the years.

If your destination of choice is Chicago, there are many events taking place all over the city.

"There's a lot happening in Millennium Park; we've got some anniversary celebrations going on there, and, of course, outdoor festivals have been released," Thomas said.

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