This autumn, to see a kaleidoscope of autumnal colours, hop across the pond and swap crowded New England for the wilds of the Midwest on an active adventure getaway to Illinois.
Illinois will undergo a dramatic transformation as a carpet of colour emerges, signalling the arrival of autumn. With 250 species of trees found around the state, expect to see golden, russet and purple hues as you explore beautiful state parks and national forests.
Here are seven autumnal adventures that showcase the very best of Illinois.
Zipline through the treetops: There is no better way to be quite literally amidst the autumn leaves than by taking on the adrenaline-pumpingShawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour. Zig zagging its way across 83 acres of the golden Shawnee National Forest, Illinois’ first tree-based, eco-friendly zipline, takes thrill seekers along eight ziplines, across three aerial suspension bridges and on two short hikes. The three hour tour is priced at $85 per person (approx. £66).
Aerial adventure: Reach new heights during a ride in one of the USA’s largest hot air balloons. On an aerial adventure with Galena On The Fly, Inc, enjoy 360-degree bird’s eye views of the autumnal palette below and see burnt-orange leaf landscapes stretching across three different states. Balloon rides are available from sunrise to sunset and are priced from $100 (approx. £78). En route to Galena from Chicago, stop by Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford for more incredible autumn coloured landscapes. Entry costs $9 per adult (approx. £7).
Navigate the Mighty Mississippi: Canoe down the Mississippi River from Alton against a backdrop of orange leaves and limestone bluffs. Big Muddy Adventures offers a monthly half-day paddling adventure by canoe journeying along America’s most iconic river. For visitors keen to experience this water-based adventure, the trip runs on 7 October, and is priced at $60 per person (approx. £47) with the option to add a river picnic lunch for $15 per person (approx. £12). Pre-booking is advised.
Drink in the autumn scenery: This autumn, wine lovers visiting Illinois are spoilt for choice with numerous opportunities to sample exquisite wines amidst glorious autumn scenery. At the award-winning Galena Cellars, renowned for its hybrid grape, guided tours are available of the 46-acre vineyard, priced from $65 per person (approx. £51). Further south, the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail is home to 11 wineries that sit along a 25-mile scenic drive along highways 51 and 127. Holidaymakers should look out for special autumn events including Harvest Dinners and wine tasting sessions on panoramic outdoor patios to view the surrounding foliage.
Insta-worthy Illinois: A hiker and photographer’s wonderland, a visit to the Garden of the Gods and Rim Rock Recreational Area offers the chance to see dramatic rock formations, cliffs and trails. The jewel of the crown in the beautiful Shawnee National Forest, the area boasts panoramic views unlike anywhere in the Midwest and is the perfect adventure spot for holidaymakers looking for a rewarding but simple outdoor adventure.
Adventure on two wheels: Bike among the gorgeous trees and riverfront communities down the scenic Great River Trail in the Quad Cities of Rock Island and Moline. Bikes are available to rent by the hour for $8 (approx. £6.50) or for the day for $40 (approx. £32) from the Moline Visitor Centre. Boasting abundant wildlife and stunning views of the Mississippi River, the trail is a local favourite. Afterward, riders can revive themselves with craft brews at the Bent River Brewing Company.
Chicago Botanic Garden: Situated just 45 minutes north of the city, this popular attraction is one of the USA’s most visited botanical gardens and features 27 spectacular and diverse gardens, ranging from manicured landscapes to more informal displays. Stop by the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden to see the gold ginkgo trees glow in the autumn light – and don’t miss the Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns if visiting around Halloween. More than 1,000 hand-carved pumpkins – some as large as 150 pounds – will light up the landscape from 24-28 October. Entry is free.
Jet off to Illinois from £880 per person
America As You Like It offers a seven night holiday to Illinois from £880 per person. The price includes return United Airlines flights from London Heathrow to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, two nights at the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago, two nights at the Best Western Designer Inn & Suites in Galena and three nights at the Willowbrook Cabins near the Shawnee National Forest together with car hire for the trip duration. Based on two adults travelling and sharing room only accommodation. Valid for travel in October 2018. To book, call 020 8742 8299 or visit: www.americaasyoulikeit.com