cyclingMuch of the original alignment of the legendary Mother Road, which carried cars from Chicago to California, has been designated as part of the Route 66 Trail and is just a small part of the thousands of miles of bike routes in Illinois.

Whether you are planning an epic bike tour of the state or just want a leisurely ride with family, Illinois is home to a route that will meet the needs of any bicyclist. This excellent map, put together by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, shows the breadth of the state’s bicycling infrastructure.

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Art in Illinois isn’t confined to cities or art museums, it is in our streets, parks, civic spaces and restaurants. Illinois artist Felicia Olin’s works in paint and mixed media include familiar faces and places in our state. Born in Marion County, Felicia studied art at Benedictine University and Illinois State University and lives in Springfield. See Felicia’s art and where it has appeared on her website.


ILI: How long have you been an artist or when did you start?
Olin: It is hard to say how long I have been an artist because I have been obsessed with making art since I was able to grab a crayon and scribble.

There was never a time in my memory where it wasn't important to me. If there was any particular moment where I became aware of the potential of art in my life, that moment was in 8th grade when my art teacher, Wanda Riseman, entered my work into the Scholastic Art Competition and I had one of my pieces sent to New York for their national judging. It was motivating to know that this thing I just did naturally had some merit.

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Illinois continues to be one of the top destinations in the United States for international visitors. In 2012, Illinois had more than 2 million visitors, which ranked 6th in the country. Chicago had 1.4 million visitors.

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reichsWhen Kathy Reichs, a forensic anthropologist who grew up in Chicago, published her first academic paper titled "Cranial suture eccentricities: a case in which precocious closure complicated determination of sex and commingling" in the Journal of Forensic Science in 1989, she probably couldn’t have deduced that she would one day go on to pen some of the most thrilling and engaging crime fiction novels of her generation.

But that is exactly what happened.

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Need to get there from here? You probably can if you live in Illinois. Chicago is home to O’Hare, which recently reclaimed its place as busiest airport in the world. Between O’Hare and Midway, you can catch a direct flight to 62 international cities and 156 domestic destinations.

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