Illinois Road Trip Round-Up – Instagram Spots
By Katie Arvia published July 28, 2020
We’ve been “All In for Illinois” during the pandemic, but now that we're in Phase 4, we’re ready to enjoy our state safely. Check-in every Tuesday for an Illinois Road Trip Round-Up on themed topics showcasing eighteen destinations across Illinois. This week, we’re touring some of the state's best Instagram spots! So pack up the family, bring your masks and get ready for a road trip!
There are plenty of Instagram-worthy locations throughout the Chicago Southland’s 62 communities. Add a bit of history to your timeline and snap some photos at Ford Hangar in Lansing, built in 1926 by Henry Ford. Although the hangar is not regularly open to the public, the outer brick walls and original, expansive windows face the parking lot, allowing photogs to create the perfect vintage backdrop. Your Instagram followers will go “wild” over your shots from Brookfield Zoo, where there’s no shortage of photo opportunities throughout the nature park’s 216 acres! Home to more than 5,000 animals ready for their close-up, Brookfield Zoo is the ideal Instagram spot for nature lovers. Be sure to tag your Chicago Southland Instagram photos with #VisitSouthland! Photo credit: Scott Bort.
Step into a mid-century modern masterpiece and get a glimpse at the life of a pioneering figure in Illinois history at the Farnsworth House. The yearlong focus at Farnsworth House is "Edith Farnsworth Reconsidered," a series of exhibits and installations, including a complete refurnishing of this famous glasshouse to reflect its appearance in 1955 that tell the story of Dr. Farnsworth, a remarkable woman who was an accomplished research physician, classically-trained violinist, poet, linguist and world traveler. Designed and built in the International Style by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Farnsworth House is one of the world's most widely recognized and studied structures of the 20th century. Experience Dr. Edith Farnsworth's iconic country home on the Fox River with on-site interior and exterior tours. Book your visit at FarnsworthHouse.org and plan your stay with the Aurora Area Go Guide, in print and online at EnjoyAurora.com.
Grab your cameras and phones and come take pictures in a variety of Instagram-worthy spots in the Bloomington-Normal area! Whether art, history or nature is your preferred backdrop, we have it all. The walls of Uptown Normal and Downtown Bloomington are decorated with murals perfect for an artsy photo-op. Comlara Park, Moraine View State Recreation Area and the Constitution Trail all make beautiful scenery for sunset pictures, nature shots and lake photos with friends or family. Another popular Instagrammable spot is the Lincoln Bench in Downtown Bloomington. While you’re exploring our downtown community, snapping a photo with President Lincoln is a must! No matter where you snap your Instagram pics, be sure to share them with us and use #VisitBN!
VISIT CHAMPAIGN COUNTY
The greater Champaign County area is full of amazing spots to snap a picture for Instagram. Outside the historic Virginia Theater, you'll find one of our most popular spots – the Roger Ebert statue. Give a thumbs up and sit alongside the Urbana native and film critic who revolutionized the way people think about movies. If you're looking to grab a photo with something a bit more exotic, a trip to Aikman Wildlife Adventure is a must. From zebras and camels to elk and more, you can get amazing selfies and close-up shots on your driving tours of this incredible wildlife park.
CHICAGO'S NORTH SHORE
With gorgeous gardens and fountains outside and embellishment that resembles lace inside, the Baha’i House of Worship – the only one in North America – is an Instagram favorite. Dozens of spots on Evanston’s lakefront are Insta-worthy. Sunrise along Evanston Beaches command attention and of course, with 19th-century buildings and its own spectacular lakefront, Northwestern University’s campus offers many great spots to snap a pic including the Shakespeare Garden, the Arch, Alice Millar Chapel, Deering Meadow and the sailing beach with the City of Chicago’s skyline as one fine backdrop!
MEET CHICAGO NORTHWEST
Is your Instagram profile in desperate need of some new content? Chicago Northwest has plenty of photogenic hotspots: Medieval Times, Arlington International and LEGOLAND Discovery Center are some local favorites. However, here are some less well-known destinations that would make for unique photos! Capture history at Itasca Historical Depot Museum, and step inside their restored 1939 Milwaukee Road rib side caboose. In Arlington Heights, the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre recently installed a brand new 26-foot marquee; and would make for a great backdrop! For a golden hour shot, visit the gazebo at Lake Arlington and catch the lake's sunset.
#WeWokeUpLikeThis. From stunning, waterfront views and soaring heights, to trendy coffee spots and farm to table fare, Effingham has some hidden (and some not-so-hidden) gems where you can snap that picture-perfect photo for the ‘gram! One of our favorite photo-ops is Firefly Grill’s cozy front porch, where you can capture a fun group photo around their iconic ‘Welcome’ sign. Looking for a great selfie spot? Head to Lake Sara to get a natural, sun-kissed look on the beach (#nofilter). Create a flat-lay from the Joe Sippers brunch menu or get the ultimate ‘wow’ factor at the Cross at the Crossroads. Find more information on these and other picturesque destinations, visit VisitEffinghamIL.com!
Make your Instagram pop by visiting the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir of Chicago. This Hindu place of worship was built by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. And the architecture is absolutely breathtaking. The mandir, located in Bartlett, opened in the spring of 1953. It is built of hand-carved Italian marble and Turkish limestone. The mandir is the largest of its kind in Illinois and was constructed according to guidelines outlined in ancient Hindu texts of temple architecture. Making it one of the largest and most uniquely designed structures in the Elgin area. The complex sprawls over 27 acres and the mandir is open daily for worship and to visitors. Check out our architecture page for more details about architectural wonders in the Elgin area. And our other Insta-worthy spots that can be found!
GREAT RIVERS AND ROUTES
Discover a place where giant pink elephants come out to play and aren’t shy about having their photos taken! Outside the Pink Elephant Antique Mall, along Route 66 in Livingston, a variety of enormous statues greet visitors who stop including the pink elephant, a 20-foot tall waitress, an enormous ice cream cone and a giant green spaceship. Have your photo taken alongside the elephant or with a group of life-sized chipmunks seated outside the antique mall. Head inside and visit the Twistee Treat Diner for a quick ice cream cone or lunch and meet The Blues Brothers dancing beside the jukebox.
In the Heritage Corridor, there are some giant Instagram spots. And one is, literally, a giant. The Gemini Giant is the 30-foot tall “Muffler Man” standing in front of The Launching Pad Restaurant in Wilmington. He is one of just a handful of these original marketing icons remaining on Route 66. In Pontiac, you can snap a selfie in front of the World’s Largest Route 66 Painted Shield. This mural was painted on the outside back wall of the Route 66 Hall of Fame by the internationally renowned Walldogs.
There are dozens of places in ILLINOISouth to stop and take a cool photo – but one of the most popular attractions is ‘Big Things in a Small Town’ in Casey. Here you can take pictures with several of the World’s Largest Things, as well as numerous other HUGE items! Pose next to the World’s Largest Truck Key and crack a grin beside the World’s Largest Golf Club. By the time you’re finished, you’ll have enough content for your Instagram account for the next month! Other icons in ILLINOISouth to snap a picture with are the Popeye character statues scattered throughout the community of Chester; and you can’t forget to stop off of Interstate 70 and get a shot with the fire-breathing Kaskaskia Dragon! Nature shots are also an Instagram staple, and for one of the best pictures in ILLINOISouth, go to Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve in Monroe County. SAY CHEESE!
VISIT MCHENRY COUNTY
Sunflowers are all the rage on Instagram right now! Want to grab a sunflower selfie of your own? Von Bergen’s Country Market in Hebron is home to its very own sunflower maze. The sunflower maze just opened on July 10th and will last for two weeks. Don’t worry, if you can’t make it then there are two other sunflower mazes growing to open shortly after. One is planned for August and another in September. The maze is open from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily but can close for inclement weather so be sure to check the forecast before you head out.
Looking to up your Instagram this summer? Central Illinois is filled with great spots to inspire your inner wanderlust and make your followers jealous of all the fun you’re having. The sunflower fields at Jubilee College State Park bring a whole new level of aesthetic to your ‘gram. If sunflowers aren’t your jam but you love flowers, check out Luthy Botanical Garden which is spread across over five acres in Glen Oak Park with various flora and fauna you can snap pictures of. Up by Bradley University? Bradley’s campus has many great spots to pose for pictures, like the statue of Bradley’s founder, Lydia Moss Bradley. Or head across the street to the Love Wall, a wall full of different kinds of interactive murals by local artists, next to One World Cafe. Head across the river to the East Peoria Riverwalk where you can show off the beautiful Illinois River and downtown Peoria skyline in the background. Looking to get a different camera angle? Head out to the historical Washington Square where you can pose next to the fountain or with a locally made cup of joe. Or check out the world’s largest sundial and paddle boating at Mineral Springs Park and lagoon. Make sure to follow @EnjoyPeoria and @DiscoverPeoria on Instagram for more ideas on some of the best Instagram spots around the Heart of Illinois.
All of your Instagram followers will be captivated with your photos when you post from Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford! Anderson Japanese Gardens is the perfect backdrop for photos featuring nature, architecture, landscapes, or even selfies. Inspired by calm and tranquility, this 12-acre, award-winning landscape is comprised of koi-filled ponds, winding paths, gentle streams, cascading waterfalls, raked gravel gardens, beautifully trained pines and more. Master craftsmanship and 16th-century traditional architecture is found throughout the garden. Foodies looking for some photo-worthy dishes to capture also don’t have to go far because Fresco at the Gardens serves breakfast and lunch overlooking the gardens. This restaurant highlights fresh, organic and locally grown food, sure to make your followers’ mouths water when they see the photos on your feed!
Curating the perfect social media feed is no easy task, but we can help! Whether your feed is full of food, outdoor adventures or even selfies, you’ll find the perfect spot for your shots in Williamson County! Make your fellow foodies drool after sharing your snapshots at our delicious local restaurants! Capture the beauty of our natural areas on a hiking or kayaking excursion! Or strike a pose in one of our historic downtown districts after you find the perfect look at one of our local boutiques. However you Instagram, “likes” are guaranteed when you visitSI!
Everyone loves a good photo op! Whether you’re a photographer, selfie master, model or simply someone who loves unique art, this blog is for you! Here are some of our greatest 'Instagrammable' spots that you just can’t miss while visiting Springfield. Make sure when you visit these spots you don’t forget to put on your biggest smile, snap a great pic, post on your social media and #VISITSPRINGFIELD! From our “connect the Capitols” opportunity to the Lincoln Statue on the grounds of the Illinois State Capitol, you are sure to find the perfect spot here! Read our entire blog here.