Illinois, also known as The Prairie State, and home to the great city of Chicago, is known for hundreds of different things! Below, there will be a list of some of the most notable things Illinois is known for. But, to best understand Illinois, let’s begin with a brief history.

Illinois, which is derived from the name Illiniwek, (an alliance among several tribes settled along the Mississippi River) goes even further back than the those that settled there. There are still some historic landmarks and tribes there today. Eventually, in the 1670s the French came in and help stabilize the area. As a result, Illinois was considered a part of the French empire until the British came in and took over in 1763. In 1783, it was ceded to the new United States.

In 1803, Fort Dearborn was established in present-day Chicago which led to the creation of the Illinois Territory in 1809. Shortly after, in 1818, Illinois became the 21st U.S. state and started to expand. At the time, Chicago was becoming known for its ports and rail hub which inspired its growth during the early 20th century.

Over hundreds of years, Illinois has established itself and become known for a wide array of things across many industries. If you are on a road trip, one of the first things you might notice is how much of the land is dedicated to farming, more specifically, corn! This is a large portion of Illinois that most people don’t even bother to interact with. There are plenty of landscapes in Illinois to explore so it’s worthwhile to venture outside of the city and suburbs.

Naturally, the city of Chicago is the main attraction that draws people to the state. It has great appeal for many reasons, but it is filled with opportunity and entertainment. Chicago has professional sports teams (you’ll have to pick between the White Sox and Cubs), culture-filled museums, great housing options, unique food, lakefront beaches, culture out the wazoo, art and theater performance, and anything else you might want. It’s no surprise Chicago is one of the main reasons Illinois is on the map.

Some of the biggest attractions in the city are Navy Pier, the Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute of Chicago, Lincoln Park Zoo, Millennium Park, the Magnificent Mile, the Skydeck at the Willis Tower, the Adler Planetarium, and Cloud Gate (The Bean). If you plan to visit the city of Chicago, all these places should be on your list.

Another reason you might end up in Illinois is for the many education options offered. From pre-k to post-grad, Illinois has hundreds of options to get educated at the highest level. There are a handful of well-known universities (along with smaller colleges or programs) that cater to anything a student might need. There are tons of well-known leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, and famous thinkers that have come from Illinois and you could be the next one.


Apart from the farmland, Illinois has natural landscapes that provide great hiking and views of nature. Places like Starved Rock State Park, Garden of the Gods, Illinois Beach State Park, Matthiessen State Park, and the Chicago Botanic Garden offer breathtaking views. Each of these places is unique and covers hundreds of acres. If you’re looking to get out of the city or suburbs, any of these places are most likely a short drive from where you are.

There are also many smaller fun facts about Illinois! For example, Twinkies were invented in River Forest, IL back in 1930. The world’s tallest man was born in Alton, IL and was 8’11”. The Ice Cream Sundae originated in Evanston, IL. In 1914, the term jazz was born in Chicago. Illinois is home to the world’s largest bottle of catsup. Finally, Illinois is home to Metropolis, the fictional character Superman’s hometown (they even have a museum dedicated to him). These are just some of the interesting facts there are to learn about Illinois – the state has a rich history and can keep you busy for years.

Another odd thing about Illinois – it’s possible to get all four seasons in one day. It can be snowing in the morning, sunny in the afternoon, and chilly in the evening.

If you’re just visiting or plan to stay for a while, this list of what makes Illinois special is only the beginning. There is an endless number of places to get lost in and there is something for everybody. For more information on Illinois, check out this article – 30 Facts You Didn’t Know About Illinois