WHETHER your’re indulging in a Campfire milkshake in Geneva or discovering the Civil War history of Galena – there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.
Fashion Editor Lynne McKenna finds Chicago isn’t the only thing to love about the state of Illinois.
Go sky high in the windy city
I kick off my trip in Illinois’ most famous city, Chicago, by checking out its stunning urban skyline.
For a unique (if slightly scary!) chance to fully appreciate the panorama, I try the 360 Observation Deck Tilt experience, which gives a bird’s eye view of the city at 314m above the ground.
Fashion Editor Lynne McKenna enjoyed a glass of fizz while admiring the spectacular city[/caption]
It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted or anyone with vertigo, but the views are spectacular. Entry costs £20 (360chicago.com).
Back on solid ground, I take a tour with the Chicago Architecture Center to find out more about the city’s famous buildings – a 90-minute tour costs £22 (Architecture.org).
You can’t leave Chicago without trying a deep-dish pizza, so I loosen my belt and head to Gino’s East, an institution for over half a century.
The smell of pizza pies oozing with cheese will make your mouth water, and prices start from £19 (Ginoseast.com).
Head down to The Burger Local to sample their finest Campfire milkshake[/caption]
Afterwards, I sleep it all off at Claridge House.
Decked out in stylish interiors, it’s cool but easy-going – everything you want in a boutique city hotel.
Rooms start from £62 a night (Claridgehousechicago.com).
Shake it up
After an obligatory snap in front of the sign for the iconic Route 66, which starts in Chicago and runs all the way to Santa Monica, I’m ready for my next adventure.
An hour’s drive leads to the picture-postcard town of Geneva.
Pose for a photo with the iconic Route 66 sign which you’ll find in Chicago[/caption]
It’s a world away from city life, with wooden houses, tree-lined streets and artisan sweet shops.
After a stroll and a spot of shopping it’s time for a snack at Burger Local, where I indulge in a Campfire milkshake overflowing with smoked chocolate ice cream, crumbled Graham Crackers and toasted marshmallows, £6 (Theburgerlocal.com).
Feeling full but happy, I head back to The Herrington Inn & Spa where, with a G&T in hand, I sit and luxuriate in the peaceful calm as the Fox River flows outside.
Rooms start from £129 a night (Herringtoninn.com).
Do the fright thing
A two-hour drive takes me to Galena, a town full of Civil War history and famed as the home of President Ulysses S Grant, where I join an insightful history tour led by an enthusiastic Grant impersonator. Tickets cost £12 (Galenahistory.org).
Afterwards, I potter around the quaint high street, which looks like a film set for a 19th-century period drama.
Explore the history of the state of Illinois and take a trip out of the city to the country[/caption]
All this history is all well and good, but I hop on Amelia’s Haunted Shuttle Bus Tour for a spookier ride around the town at night, ending up at the (supposedly) haunted Ryan Mansion.
Eek! Tour tickets cost £27 (Ameliastours.com).
Rock ’n’ roll with it
Suitably educated and spooked, it’s time to dance it all out to a live band playing ‘50s and ‘60s rock ’n’ roll at Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape.
I love the quirky cocktails created by Miss Kitty herself, and the Green Python shot (bananas, melon liqueur and pineapple), £3, tastes divine (Grapeescapegalena.com).
Collapse into a king-size bed at the vintage hotel[/caption]
Slightly merry, I collapse into my king-size bed at DeSoto House.
Its ditsy-print wallpaper, grand staircase and vintage furniture make me feel as if I might wake up in another era. Rooms start from £128 per night (Desotohouse.com).
Chicago may be incredible, but I’m so happy I’ve scratched further under the surface of Illinois.