Anderson Japanese Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Rd., Rockford (tel. 815/229-9390; www.andersongardens.org), is one of the loveliest examples of a Japanese garden in the Western world. Anderson's 12 acres are open May through October and are filled with gorgeous authentic Japanese structures, like the traditional teahouse, gazebo, and serene ponds of wiggling koi. Don't miss the West Waterfall, five stories fashioned from 700 tons of boulders, with the sound of 1,600 gallons of water to clear the bells and whistles of the buzzing world out of your head.
In Utica off I-39, stunning Starved Rock State Park (tel. 815/667-4726; http://dnr.state.il.us/Lands/landmgt/parks/i&m/east/starve/park.htm) has 2,816 acres of waterfalls, streams, canyons formed by melting glaciers, and sandstone bluffs, and miles and miles of shady oak trees, and is particularly great for eagle-spotting opportunities.
If you didn't get enough of the World Cup, fútbol fans should check out the 28,000-seat Bridgeview Stadium in Toyota Park, 7000 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago (tel. 312/705-7200; www.chicago-fire.com), which opened in June 2006 and is home to the Chicago Fire soccer team.
In the center of the state, fans of Honest Abe will love the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, 212 N. Sixth St., Springfield (tel. 800/610-2094; www.alplm.org), and its fantastic collection of Lincoln's papers, books, and personal belongings. You can see the original Gettysburg Address on display.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.