Many of the state’s outstanding places to visit are in the Chicago area. Among the interesting places to visit elsewhere in Illinois is the famous Brookfield Zoo, which lies west of Chicago. At Lisle, also near Chicago, is the Morton Arboretum, which includes an extensive collection of plant life that covers 600 hectares (1,500 acres).
Places to visit in the city of Springfield include the State Capitol, the Old State Capitol, the Illinois State Museum, and the home of poet Vachel Lindsay. At Galesburg is the Carl Sandburg Birthplace, the restored cottage where the famous poet was born. Other restorations include the Mormon town of Nauvoo and the home and shops of the inventor John Deere at Grant Detour.
Many annual events in Illinois focus on Chicago during the summer. Taste of Chicago, a June food and entertainment extravaganza, became a Chicago fixture in the early 1980s. Also in the early part of the summer are the Chicago Blues Festival, the Viva Chicago Latin Music Festival, and the Gospel Music Festival. Later events include the Venetian Night (lighted boats parading on the Chicago River) in July, the Chicago Air and Water Show along the shore of Lake Michigan in August, and the Chicago Jazz Fest around the Labor Day weekend.
Springfield, the state capital, hosts the Carillon Festival each June. In July the Capital City Celebration includes a variety of festivities for children. The annual state fair, one of the largest in the country, occurs at the fairgrounds on the north side of Springfield in August.
Many other Illinois communities host annual events to celebrate some aspect of their heritage or a special regional attraction. Rantoul holds The Gathering of Eagles Airshow in June, even though its Chanute Air Force Base closed several years ago. Nauvoo sponsors the Grape Festival in September to commemorate the vineyards that supply the local winery and the settlers who first brought the grape to this Mississippi River community. Fulton County welcomes thousands in October to the events and sights associated with its Spoon River Drive. County fairs, typically preceding the state fair, occur in most Illinois counties.
Chicago is the home of several professional sports teams: the White Sox and Cubs (baseball), the Bulls (basketball), the Bears (football), the Fire (soccer), and the Black Hawks (ice hockey). Minor league baseball franchises allow fans to see future stars in Peoria, Springfield, the Quad Cities, and Kane County (just west of Chicago). "Illinois" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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