Lincoln's New Salem With President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday coming up on Feb. 12, what better way to celebrate than by taking a stroll through the New Salem State Historic Site in Petersburg, a reconstruction of the village where Honest Abe lived and worked from 1831 to 1837.

New Salem was originally founded in 1829 when a flour mill was built on the Sangamon River. Soon, lots surrounding the mill were sold for businesses and homes, and the town grew rapidly.

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EIU CampusFrom 2020 to 2021, Eastern Illinois University saw a 13 percent increase in its spring enrollment. This enrollment increase is even larger than the 2018 to 2020 increase of nine percent.

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route 66 868967 1280The most famous road in America, traveled on by generations, is a symbol of unlimited mobility and freedom of the road. Route 66 is iconic for America’s highway culture – and it starts right here in Illinois.

It was created in 1926 as part of the numbered highway network and became the preferred road west.  It quickly gained fame as the shortest route between the Midwest and the west coast as it passed through the American Southwest.

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Daniel BurnhamChicago is known for its location right on Lake Michigan, but have you ever wondered how its lakeshore became such an important aspect of the city? Architect Daniel Burnham is to thank for that.

Burnham was born in Henderson, New York in 1846 and moved to Chicago when he was 8 years old. While he was never good at school, he always had a knack for drawing. At age 18, he moved back east for his studies but failed to pass admissions exams for Harvard and Yale, pushing him to move back to Chicago at age 21. It was there where he started his career as an architect at the Loring & Jenney architectural firm.

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Garden of the gods 3Located in the Shawnee National Forest, Garden of the Gods Wilderness Area is 3,318 acres of unique geological formations and sprawling forests. This destination is the most visited site in the Shawnee National Forest, with sights like Camel Rock, Anvil Rock and Devil's Smoke Stack that make for a hiker’s and photographer’s wonderland.

Unlike most of Illinois, the expanse on which the Garden of the Gods is located was never covered in glacier, allowing wind and rain to weather the sandstone over hundreds of millions of years to create the unique features seen there today.

The wilderness area’s most popular trail, Observation Trail, is a short quarter-mile hike that allows visitors to see a lot of what the park has to offer, including woodlands and the famous Camel Rock. The trail also features signs that highlight the various historical and geologic features of these unique sandstone bluffs.

For a more extended hike, visitors can traverse the 5.5 miles of interconnected trails. The area also features equestrian trails for an enjoyable horseback riding experience.

Southern Illinois has a lot to offer, but visitors to the area should definitely make time to visit this exceptional area in the heart of the Shawnee National Forest.

Check out more to do at Garden of the Gods here.