As the holidays approach us there’s one thing we’re used to seeing in Illinois -- snow. When the flurries start falling, it’s time to have some winter fun.

Whether it’s inside or outdoors, ice skating can be enjoyed with family and friends. Ice skating is a fun way to enjoy the winter time and get some exercise.

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Springfield is in the running to be named the Best Travel-Worthy State Capital. USA Today is sponsoring the competition, which will be decided by votes from the general public.

The capital city has already been selected as one of 20 capitals included in the competition, based on a host of factors including accommodations, attractions, dining and diversity.

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Holiday Lights

Regardless of your faith, there are some holiday traditions that everyone can enjoy. One of the most popular is traveling to see holiday lights. Communities throughout Illinois have turned their streets, parks and zoos into shimmering, shining wonderlands. All of the displays are family friendly, and some are even free.

In Chicagoland, you can visit the Brookfield Zoo to see more than 1 million lights, ice carving, light shows and zoo animal exhibits open at night. You can also travel to Lake County's Vernon Hills to see the Winter Wonderland at Cuneo Mansion and Gardens, one of the largest drive-through light displays in Illinois. Of course, there are too many opportunities in the Chicagoland area to list them all here, so be sure to check what's going on in your local community. You don't want to miss experiences like Chicago's Holiday Train or Aurora's Holiday Festival of Lights!

If you live outside Chicago or want to take a break from the city, there are still plenty of shining displays to choose from. For example, East Peoria's Folepi's Winter Wonderland is known for its giant drive-through displays. Another famous destination is Quincy's Avenue of Lights, which stretches more than 15 miles.

Of course, there's more to the holiday season than lights. You can also visit a holiday market to buy Illinois products and enjoy the fun, festive atmosphere or buy a Christmas tree from a local tree farm.

Whatever you do this holiday season, be merry, celebrate and be safe.


It’s a sad fact that more women die from heart disease than men. Dr. Annabelle Volgman of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center has dedicated her career to changing that reality.

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William Crook Jr.A young Bill Crook left Illinois to travel around the country, then returned home to Springfield to begin a career as an artist. His love for his home state has inspired much of his work, including drawings of the state capitol, Lincoln’s home and historic sites throughout the state. He continues to document the life and times of Illinois. Read on to learn more about Mr. Crook and see more of his artwork on his website.




ILI: How long have you been an artist or when did you start? Was there a single incident or moment when you realized this was your passion and if so, tell us about it?
CROOK: I've been doing pen and ink drawings for about 43 years. I began when I was a design student at University of Illinois in Urbana, and was inspired by the so-called underground comics movement of the '60s and 70s, especially the work of Robert Crumb. I had work published in a number of small press publications, but unfortunately the pay was non-existent. This was during the Vietnam War, and I dropped out of college, hitch-hiked to Mexico and camped on a Pacific beach at Tenacatita Bay. It was there, experiencing the overwhelming beauty of the land and the sea, that I decided to be an artist.

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