Illinois is such a great state, from Chicago to state parks and everything in between. Here are my top 5 things I love about Illinois.

Top 5 Things I Love About Illinois

Today is the second day of a new link-up with Say Yes to Happy – the first weekday of each month has a theme and today’s theme is our favorite thing about our home state. But I couldn’t just pick one. So here is a list of the top five things I love about Illinois.


Ok, if you’ve visited the blog before, you already knew this was going to be my top choice. I love Chicago. Even though I’ve never actually lived downtown (yet), I feel warm and fuzzy inside every time I’m down there. It is home.

And I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Chicago is currently the third largest city in the country – and just under 3 million people officially call it home. The city has enough eating establishments, that you can eat at a new one, each day, for the next 50 years and not repeat.

Trip Advisor also recently named the Art Institute of Chicago as the best museum in the world. Those two points alone make it amazing! Ok, I could go on and on but I’ll end it here. If you are interested in reading more about Chicago, visit my Chicago section of the blog.

Four Seasons

Image by Ryan Kapp - and available for purchase at

Image by Ryan Kapp – and available for purchase at

It is finally fall, and guess what – we have the perfect fall weather! While I will for sure be cursing Chicago winters in the early months of next year, I overall really enjoy the changing of the seasons. Spring is full of good rain storms, and who doesn’t love reading during a storm? Summers are always gorgeous. We have the perfect fall weather, accompanied by fall activities like apple picking, and corn-mazes made from actual corn fields (I’ve heard some states use bales of hay… what?!).

And while I will admit it gets bitterly cold, the first half of winter is usually lovely. I couldn’t imagine living somewhere that never has a white Christmas. And places that show Santa wearing swimming trunks and no shirt? No thanks.

Tons of History

World's Columbian Exposition

Image from

For a state that isn’t on the east coast, we sure have a good deal of history. Did you know Illinois was the first state to abolish slavery? We are the great land of Lincoln, and with that comes many stories. We also had the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Not to mention all of the Chicago history – great Chicago fire, world’s first skyscraper, mobsters, and so much more.

And speaking of Chicago history, my all time favorite book is about the Columbian Exposition. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America– If that title doesn’t hook you, I don’t know what will. If you’re interested in finding out more about The Devil in the White City, I wrote a post HERE with interactive views of the locations in Chicago that correlate to the novel.

State Parks

Starved Rock

Image from

No, we don’t have the country’s best state parks, but I love the mix of nature and urban life all in one state. And our state parks are pretty fantastic.

Starved Rock is my favorite. You can view a photo tour I put together of the park HERE. While wondering around, you can find waterfalls, canyons, and endless trails.

When you think of Illinois, you don’t think of much elevation change, but that isn’t always the case. Especially when you start to get away from the dense suburbs.



Image from

The best hot dogs and beef sandwiches – this is not up for debate. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who wasn’t a fan of Portillo’s (or maybe I have and they were afraid to tell me). I know this restaurant isn’t strictly in IL anymore, but they originated here and are virtually in every town, just like a McDonald’s would be, but oh so much better. Friends and family who leave Chicago always request a stop first thing when they’re back home. And if you’ve never had a Chicago dog, this is the place to get it. Just don’t ask for ketchup. Never ketchup.Illinois is such a great state, from Chicago to state parks and everything in between. Here are my top 5 things I love about Illinois.

What are your favorite things about your home state? And if you’ve ever had Portillo’s, what did you think? Follow Me on: Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Instagram // Bloglovin
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  1. Great post! I’m from Illinois and live in Arizona now. There are so many things that I miss about my home state and I try to get back and visit as much as possible! This time of year I especially miss it because of the beautiful fall weather Illinois always gets. Corn mazes and apple picking are a distant memory since moving to the desert and yes the mazes are bales of hay here! They are just not the same 🙁

    • I’m sure I’ll be wishing I was in Arizona a couple months from now! ha I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the post – and I hope you are able to make it back for an IL fall sometime soon!

  2. I have never been to Illinois, but visiting Chicago is definitely on my list!

    Fizz and Frosting

    • I hope you’re able to make it out sometime! As I’m sure you can tell, I think it’s an amazing city!

  3. Aww! This is the cutest. I love Chicago so much, too. 🙂


    • Thanks Kelly 🙂 Sometimes I think I may be a little too obsessed with how great Chicago is… sometimes ha

  4. I was born in Illinois and lived there till I was 10 and I also still have family there. Gotta say yes to ALL these things… ESPECIALLY Portillo’s!

  5. When I was growing up, I always said I wanted to move out west at some point in my life. I hated the winters here, as do many people. But the older I get, the more I’ve grown to appreciate living here. Yes, the winters are tough – but at the same time, the change in seasons is wonderful. Plus, we don’t have to deal with earthquakes, wildfires, drought, or many other issues that California or other sought-after places do. Chicago is home!

    • I agree! I’m still not generally a fan of February weather – I feel like it’s usually when I start to hit my breaking point haha. But after traveling more, no where else compares for me. So winters and all, this is home!

  6. Joy

    Okay, so I lived in Milwaukee for 6 years but Chi city definitely has a sweet spot in my heart. I mean, I may have been mostly partying there (#college) but still! They have lots of great places for hangover food too. And the history really is amazing – definitely a good one to mention. All in all – stellar list!

    • Thanks Joy! I think that is another part of the city I really love. There are things for little kids, partying college students, and adults alike.

  7. heather

    I live in Tennessee (Memphis) Honestly I do not like Memphis. Nashville and the mountains are so worth the four hour drive. I am so glad you live somewhere where there is so much to do.

    • That is too bad to hear you’re not loving where you’re at. Think you’ll ever move to Nashville? I’ve heard good things but I haven’t had a chance to visit yet.

  8. We have such a beautiful city. I don’t get downtown nearly as much as I used to but it’s so much fun when I do go. The Portillo’s near us has the busiest drive-thru I’ve ever seen!

  9. thank you so much for linking up today! you know how much I love chicago! 🙂 and portillo’s is a great chicago staple. I LOVE that picture of the seasons. I miss the seasons in chicago so much.

    • Thanks for hosting the link up! I love having prompts like this every so often – and yours have been so easy to shape to fit my blog. And after all these comments back about Portillo’s I think I’m going to need to stop this weekend haha

  10. Omg The Devil in the White City is my favorite book & I LOVE portillos!! We are meant to be friends. If it weren’t for my husband I would still love downtown. I LOVE Chicago!!

    • You’re still pretty close at least 🙂 And we are definitely meant to be friends – we need to get together sometime!

  11. Girl!!! I love chi town! My uncles lived in brookville for years and I always loved coming visit them. There use to be the best fudge shop at navy pier!

    • I’m so happy to hear from readers from other states who love Chicago as well! I’m not sure if I’ve been to a fudge shop at Navy Pier but I’ll have to keep an eye out next time I’m there and see if it’s still there!

  12. DT

    I visited Chicago last summer, and just loved it!
    — DT | Here I Scribble

  13. I agree with all of your choices! Chicago is a museum city for sure! So much to see and do! I just spent the day there wth my girls. So much fun! And yes, to Portillos!!

    • I cannot get enough of the Chicago museums 🙂 Especially when the weather starts to turn – I’ll be there all the time! And I’m glad to hear your girls enjoy the city too!

  14. I will be bookmarking and visiting this every single day to get me through the next few month 😉 lol! All joking aside, there really is a lot to love about Illinois and you hit my top 5 too!

    • Maybe you just need to hang out with me a lot more and my love for Chicago will rub off on you 😀

  15. Thanks for putting the Pin to this great post in The Pinterest Game. All the best.

  16. Came across your blog from the Grow Your Blog group….as a fellow Chicagoan I needed to poke around. Glad that Portillo’s made your list! 😉

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