Can you imagine Halhauntedhouseloween without haunted houses? It’s a tradition and the holiday wouldn’t be the same without them. There are a plethora of haunted houses to enjoy around Illinois.

Check out the House of Torment in Morton Grove for a “multi­layered psychological thriller” that has been named one of the scariest haunted houses in the United States.  The attraction boasts zombies, deadly creatures and murderous insects.

Or head to southern Illinois and visit Alton, one of the most haunted small towns in America. Take a haunted ghost tour through the town, based on the best-selling book by Troy Taylor, Haunted Alton. The book includes an in-depth look at all of the locations on the tour, plus the detailed history of Alton and the surrounding region. It's a chilling look back in time at the strange tales, unsolved mysteries, and many ghosts of the Alton area.

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Kickapoo State Park leafs - Photo by Daniel SchwenWith a length of 390 miles from north to south and an ideal climate for deciduous trees, Illinois is one of the most uniquely-situated places to view fall foliage.

Because the state is so long from north to south, fall comes to Illinois several times. It first comes to the northern part of the state in mid-September and works its way gradually south as the weather cools and each region hits its “peak” fall colors at a different time. In northern Illinois, leaves have already begun to change color and will soon reach their peak, turning otherwise mundane vistas into breathtaking, picturesque landscapes.

One of the best ways to experience fall in northern Illinois is to visit the Cemetery Hill Trail at Cook County Forest Preserve’s Paw Paw Woods.

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A Northern saw-whet owl spotted in Lisle's Morton Arboretum. Photo by Jay Sturner

From the shops and restaurants of Galena to the natural majesty of Shawnee National Forest, tourists added nearly $600 million more to the state’s economy last year. Residents of Illinois may occasionally overlook local attractions, but tourism numbers suggest that people from all over the world are visiting and appreciating the Land of Lincoln in increasingly large numbers.

The Illinois Office of Tourism found that in 2016 alone, foreign and domestic tourists added $37.9 billion to the state’s economy. That is a $571 million increase over 2015. The number of tourism jobs statewide also increased by 20,000.

While Chicago continues to attract visitors from all over the globe, the rest of the state is getting plenty of visitors as well. Not only has tourism revenue increased in Cook County, it has also risen in Lake, DuPage, Will and other nearby counties. McHenry County saw the greatest jump with an 8.9 percent increase in tourism revenue. The DuPage County Convention and Visitors Bureau recently unveiled its “DuMore in DuPage” campaign to promote local attractions like Cantigny Park, the Morton Arboretum and the Naperville River Walk. Local tourism authorities across Illinois are following DuPage’s lead.

Outside of Chicagoland, there are even more varied attractions including the aforementioned Main Street in Galena and Shawnee National Forest as well as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Colinsville and many more.

Illinois is a destination for travelers from all over the world. They come for the attractions associated with a world-class city like Chicago, the parks and downtown shopping districts of the collar counties and the historical and natural sites found downstate. People from outside of Illinois continue to pour into the state to appreciate its unique tourism offerings. As the summer comes to a close, there is perhaps no better time to experience all that Illinois has to offer in its own backyard. Plan your trip today.

Located on the West Side of Chicago, Garfield Park is a jewel in the “emerald necklace,” a ring of parks and tree-lined boulevards built around what was the western edge of the city in the middle of the 19th century. The goal of this development was to make urban living more active and healthy. Covering about 185 acres of land with recreation facilities, green space, Prairie-style buildings and its famous Conservatory, Garfield Park remains true to the vision put forth by its founders in 1869.

Garfield Park is best known for its conservatory, which has been described as “landscape architecture under glass.” The Garfield Park Conservatory is about two acres in size. It is designed to resemble a haystack, a nod to the Midwest’s agricultural tradition and connection to nature.

The month of April is the height of The Garfield Park Conservatory Spring Flower Show, a yearly exhibition that runs from mid-February to mid-May. In honor of the Chicago Cubs’ recent World Series victory, this year’s theme is “Spring Training.” The exhibition, which features azaleas, tulips, snapdragons and camellias, is decorated with homages to baseball in Chicago. The conservatory is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exception of Wednesdays, when the conservatory stays open until 8 p.m.

With its rare plants and expert landscape design, the Conservatory has drawn people to Garfield Park since it opened in 1908, but there are numerous other attractions and amenities. Garfield Park is home to several statues and monuments, baseball fields, boxing, basketball, gymnastics and fitness facilities, football and soccer fields, multiple playgrounds, a lagoon for fishing and much more. While the conservatory closes early, the park is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day.

As the weather warms and green leaves return to trees, the emerald necklace begins to take on the green hue that has made it popular for nearly 150 years. There is perhaps no better time to take advantage of all that Garfield Park has to offer.

As Feb. 2 quickly approaches, residents of one Illinois town are preparing to celebrate a holiday that has made the town internationally famous.Groundhog day movie 1992 location 2007 03 18 IMG 4245

Woodstock, located 51 miles northwest of Chicago, was the filming location of the movie “Groundhog Day.” Although the film is set in Pennsylvania, director Harold Ramis loved the quintessentially American feel of the Woodstock town square and surrounding neighborhoods.

The lead role of the film would even be played by an Illinois native, Bill Murray, who was born in Evanston and raised in Wilmette.

Since the filming in 1992, Woodstock has held celebrations every Groundhog Day to commemorate both the holiday and the film that was described by the American Film Institute as the “eighth best fantasy genre film” in history.

Different events happening in Woodstock on Groundhog Day include a dinner dance, free screenings of the movie and walking tours showcasing town landmarks seen in the film. For a full schedule of events, you can visit the Woodstock Groundhog Days Committee website.