Contact the Illinois Bureau of Tourism for their annual travel guide by calling tel. 800/2CONNECT or logging onto www.enjoyillinois.com. There are three Tourist Information Centers: the Gateway Information Center in New Baden, the Homestead Information Center in Hamel (both on I-64), and the Silver Lake Information Center in Highland on I-55.
By Plane -- Chicago has two major airports, both offering WiFi in their terminals: O'Hare International (tel. 773/686-2200; www.flychicago.com) and Midway International (tel. 773/838-0600; www.flychicago.com), which recently underwent a major renovation of two of its terminals. A major hub for Northwest Airlink, the Quad City International Airport (tel. 309/764-9621; www.qcairport.com) is located in Moline.
By Train -- There is a multitude of Amtrak lines (tel. 800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com) running through Illinois. The California Zephyr begins in Chicago, and makes stops in Naperville, Princeton, and Galesburg on its way to its final stop, Emeryville, CA. The Texas Eagle also begins its San Antonio-bound route in Chicago, and makes stop in Joliet, Pontiac, Normal, Lincoln, Springfield, and Alton. The Southwest Chief line begins in Chicago and stops in Naperville, Mendota, Princeton, and Galesburg on its way to Los Angeles, CA. The Cardinal/Hoosier line begins in New York, and makes only one stop in Illinois -- its last one, in Chicago -- as does the Lake Shore Limited line, and the Capitol Limited, which begins in Washington, DC. Running between Milwaukee, WI, and Chicago, Amtrak's Hiawatha line makes one other Illinois stop in Glenview, as does the Empire Builder line, which begins in Chicago and ends in Seattle, WA.
By Car -- You'll find Illinois interstates running in all directions, making mapping out your destination options pretty darned easy. From the north, there's I-39, which ends in Bloomington almost about halfway down the length of the state; I-55, which picks up in Chicago and rolls south out of the state into Missouri and St. Louis; and I-57, which also starts in Chicago and runs to the most southern point of the state in Cairo. From east to west, I-70 enters Illinois from Terre Haute, Indiana, and runs in southwestern direction until it exits into Missouri; I-64 jags across from just north of Carmi, Illinois on the Indiana border to the border of Missouri as well; I-72 picks up mid-state, runs through Champaign and Springfield, and exits in Missouri; I-74 runs parallels to I-72 around the Indiana border and veers northwest, running through Bloomington and Peoria, exiting around Molina into Iowa; same for I-80, which begins in Chicago; and finally, I-88 begins in the Windy City and heads west, also exiting around Moline and into Iowa.
Since the famous Route 66 cuts a long, diagonal swath straight through the heart of Illinois, consider checking out one of the many festivals thrown in its honor. The Route 66 Heritage Project (tel. 866/DRV-RT66; www.illinoisroute66.org) is the place to go for information on all things 66, but the newest and biggest of them all, chock full of vintage cars and big-name singers from the 1950s and '60s, is the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival (tel. 866/RTE-66IL; www.route66fest.com), held in Springfield annually during the last weekend of September.
If figuring out where to eat when you're on vacation is always a conundrum, the 10-day annual mid-summer Taste of Chicago (www.tasteofchicago.us) is your one-stop spot to sample the bounty of the city. More than 3 million people check out over 70 venders and 300 edible selections around Grant Park, from deep-dish Chicago-style pizza and Polish sausage to the more refined cuisine of restaurants like La Strada and Cyrano's Bistrot.
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.