Discover Illinois: 12 Must-Visit Cities in the Prairie State

1. Chicago

Undeniably, Chicago tops any list when it comes to cities in Illinois. It’s a city that boasts beautiful architecture, stunning lake views, diverse food scene, and world-class museums. Don’t forget to check out the Art Institute of Chicago, take a stroll in Millennium Park, and grab a deep-dish pizza while you’re there.

2. Naperville

This affluent suburb of Chicago consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the United States. With a charming downtown, excellent schools, and an abundance of parks and recreational activities, Naperville is an ideal place for families.

3. Evanston

Home to Northwestern University, Evanston combines the vibrancy of a small city with a college town feel. Enjoy a walk along Lake Michigan, explore unique shops and restaurants downtown, or visit the stunning university campus.

4. Aurora

Aurora, the second-largest city in Illinois, offers a blend of urban and suburban living. Visit the Phillips Park Zoo, catch a show at the Paramount Theatre, or indulge in some retail therapy at Chicago Premium Outlets.

5. Galena

Step back in time in Galena, a charming small town nestled in the Illinois hills. Explore the historic Main Street, visit Ulysses S. Grant’s home, or enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and boating on the Galena River.

6. Springfield

As the state capital and the home of Abraham Lincoln, Springfield is a must-visit for history buffs. Tour the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, visit the Old State Capitol, and don’t forget to try a horseshoe sandwich, a local culinary delight.

7. Rockford

Known for its outdoor spaces and cultural attractions, Rockford is a city that appeals to a wide range of interests. Visit the Anderson Japanese Gardens, explore the Rockford Art Museum, or catch a game of the local IceHogs hockey team.

8. Elgin

Located on the picturesque Fox River, Elgin offers a mix of natural beauty, historic charm, and urban amenities. Check out the Elgin Public Museum, enjoy a riverwalk, or explore the city’s burgeoning food scene.

9. Peoria

Situated on the Illinois River, Peoria offers stunning river views, rich history, and a variety of entertainment options. Visit the Peoria Riverfront Museum, take a paddlewheel boat ride on the Spirit of Peoria, or explore the vibrant Warehouse District.

10. Champaign

Home to the University of Illinois, Champaign is a lively college town with a vibrant arts scene, diverse dining options, and plenty of Illini spirit. Visit the Krannert Art Museum, catch a game at the State Farm Center, or explore the Market at the Square.

11. Oak Park

Just west of Chicago, Oak Park is a charming city known for its architectural treasures, particularly those designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Explore the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, take a stroll in one of the city’s beautiful parks, or visit the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace and Museum.

12. Bloomington-Normal

Rounding up our list, the twin cities of Bloomington and Normal are home to Illinois State University and offer a blend of college town energy and Midwestern charm. Enjoy a game at the Corn Crib, explore the Constitution Trail, or visit the Miller Park Zoo.


Whether you’re looking for a bustling metropolis, a historic town, or a peaceful suburb, Illinois offers a variety of cities that are worth visiting or even calling home. Each city offers its unique charm, ensuring that you can find the perfect place that suits your lifestyle and interests.


Q1: What is the largest city in Illinois?

A: Chicago is the largest city in Illinois.

Q2: What is the best city in Illinois for families?

A: Naperville is often ranked as one of the best cities for families due to its excellent schools, safe environment, and abundance of family-friendly activities.

Q3: Which city in Illinois is best for history lovers?

A: Springfield, being the home of Abraham Lincoln and the state capital, is a must-visit for history buffs.

Q4: Which city is known for its architectural treasures?

A: Oak Park is famous for its architectural treasures, particularly the buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Q5: Which cities in Illinois are best for college students?

A: Evanston and Champaign are popular among college students due to the presence of Northwestern University and the University of Illinois, respectively.

David Kingston

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