New trip ideas feature upcycled lodging, farm dinner experiences, electric vehicle road trips, bike trails and outdoor adventures across Illinois.
CHICAGO – This year, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Tourism (IOT) is proud to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) from May 7-13 with a special focus on sustainable travel across the state. The theme for this year’s NTTW is “Travel Forward,” emphasizing the essential role travel plays in promoting economic growth, creating job opportunities and uniting millions of Americans. To kick off NTTW, IOT is releasing a roundup of new eco-friendly summer trip ideas across the state to build excitement in advance of the upcoming summer travel season.
More than 97 million visitors spent $32.2 billion across the state in 2021, boosting economic development and supporting nearly 390,000 jobs in the industry, according to the latest data available from Tourism Economics.
“Illinois is brimming with a unique blend of natural wonders, cultural landmarks, and iconic attractions that never cease to amaze visitors. From the towering skyscrapers of Chicago to the rolling hills of the Shawnee National Forest, Illinois offers an unparalleled experience,” said Kristin Richards, Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). “We look forward to welcoming visitors from across the country and the world to experience all the incredible destinations Illinois has to offer this summer and throughout the year.”
New data from Longwoods International shows that the Office of Tourism’s award-winning ‘Middle of Everything’ campaign, launched in 2022, led to an additional 2 million trips which equated to an additional $1 billion spent in Illinois hotels, restaurants, small businesses and attractions. Every $1 spent on the campaign resulted in $91 in visitor spending and generated $10 in state and local tax revenue – an enormous return on investment and significant boost to the state’s economy.
With 90% of travelers looking for eco-friendly and sustainable options when traveling,1 the Office of Tourism is releasing new eco-conscious summer getaways across the state.
Upcycled Overnights & Eco-Friendly Stays around Illinois
Illinois is home to unparalleled lodgings in reimagined structures. Select highlights include:
- The Has Bin Guest House, Alvin – Formerly used to store grain, The Has Bin Guest House now serves as a cozy and rustic getaway for visitors with a sleeping loft and an upper deck for stargazing at night.
- Rocky Comfort Cabins, Makanda – Stay in a Hobbit-style cabin, featuring grass roofs along with round windows and doors for a distinctly unique touch.
- Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Chicago – Following the original Chicago Athletic Association club’s closure, the iconic Venetian-Gothic building on Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue was transformed into a luxury boutique hotel.
Zero Emissions on Route 66
This EV-friendly road trip along the state’s 300-mile stretch of historic Route 66, from Chicago through Southern Illinois, has access to charging stations along the way. Select highlights include:
- World’s Largest Covered Wagon, Lincoln – This larger-than-life display is handmade using three tons of Illinois oak and steel and features a 12-foot fiberglass Abraham Lincoln in the wagon seat.
- Route 66 Motorheads Bar and Grill, Museum and Entertainment Complex, Springfield – With vintage decor, a game room and frequent live entertainment, dining at Motorheads is a fun, family-friendly Route 66 experience.
- World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, Collinsville – A can’t-miss photo op awaits in Collinsville with a colossal condiment proudly listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Farm-to-Table Dining Experiences
Dine surrounded by the fields and crops that define the menu. Select highlights include:
- Locavore Farm, Grant Park – Only 43 miles south of Chicago, this family-owned farmstead offers a ‘Dine on the Land’ experience that brings guests together at a 107-foot-long table in the garden.
- Epiphany Farms, Downs – With 75 acres of farmland, orchards and vineyards, plus a team dedicated to regenerative farming techniques, it’s the crops grown on-site that sustain four restaurants (Epiphany Farms Restaurant, Anju Above, Bakery and Pickle, and Harmony) in nearby Bloomington.
- Firefly Grill, Effingham – At Firefly, most of the ingredients used in their exceptional dishes are grown on-site. Additional ingredients are sourced from local artisan farmers, foragers and fishermen who share Firefly’s dedication to providing nourishment.
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