Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-06-20
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



TRAVEL IN ILLINOIS Four towns in DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS well worth the time
by Owen Keehnen

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Vacations don't need to be expensive. Road trips can be thrilling, educational, and most importantly, a lot of fun. Exploring the sights, sensations, and hidden treasures of almost anywhere can be an unforgettable experience. Recently I took a drive through Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. On my return trip I drove north through southern Illinois. So many places downstate were full of surprises. Here is a quick rundown of just four of them.

Cairo is a town of profound desolation located at the southernmost tip of Illinois at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Visually, Cairo is a wonder, a modern-day ghost town with an almost otherworldly vibe. Many buildings here are abandoned and in various states of collapse, a condition made all the more surreal by an abundance of Japanese Kudzu, a vine which seems poised to consume the town. When Charles Dickens visited the town in 1842, he was moved to make Cairo the model for his nightmare city in the novel Martin Chuzzlewit ( 1846 ). Cairo also plays a major role in Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods ( 2001 ). In stark contrast to the general dilapidation in Cairo is Magnolia Manor, an opulent and preserved estate which hints at the town's former grandeur as a seat of river commerce. When visiting Cairo be sure to visit Fort Defiance Park, located at the lowest point in the state where the merging of the two iconic rivers is visible. FYI: Just across the Mississippi River in Kentucky, is Wickliffe, site of Wickliffe Mounds, the remnants of a Native American village dating from 1100-1350 AD.

Originally named Calhoun, Springfield is an interesting mix of grandeur with a touch of kitsch, the state capitol as well as a former thoroughfare for Route 66. I found both areas of interest fascinating. The capitol grounds downtown and the state buildings are imposing and impressive as is the surrounding statuary. In addition, there is the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln's Home, Lincoln's Tomb, the Illinois State Library, and the Illinois State Museum. Also be sure to check out the Old State Capitol Building ( 1839-1876 ) and Lincoln Square, site of several notable events including the starting point for the ill-fated Donner Party in 1846. Down the street from Lincoln Square is Recycled Records, a browser's paradise offering three floors of records and assorted collectibles. While in Springfield, be sure to stop by Shea's Gas Station Museum and check out the array of Route 66 and filling station memorabilia. And no visit to Springfield would be complete without a meal at the Cozy Dog Drive-in, another iconic remnant of Route 66 with lots of keepsakes from the thoroughfare's, and the diner's, heyday. The Cozy Dog is also the home of the original corn dog on a stick.

To the north is Lincoln, Illinois, another town which was once part of Route 66. The town square is pure Americana, dominated by a handsome city hall building with the unexpected sight of a phone booth on the roof. ( The phone booth was used years ago as a severe weather lookout. In questionable weather a fireman would man the booth and call downstairs at the appearance of a funnel cloud to sound the tornado alarm. ) The Lincoln Heritage Museum is here as well. The giant Abe Lincoln on a wagon at the outskirts of town makes for a fun photo op. There is also a Watermelon Lincoln Monument which commemorates Lincoln's christening of the town's new railroad with a slice of watermelon. This was the only town in the nation named for Abraham Lincoln before he became President. If you want to do an Abraham Lincoln tour of central Illinois be sure to add this one to your list, which should also include Springfield, Mt. Vernon and New Salem.

Bloomington was another mandatory stop on my downstate trek. For tourism, this town of approximately 80,000 features the David Davis Mansion ( Supreme Court justice ), The Prairie Aviation Museum, and the McLean County History Museum. Bloomington is also the home of Beer Nuts! However, on my Bloomington stop I was most eager to visit Evergreen Cemetery and check out the grave of Dorothy Gage, the niece of Frank Baum ( she died as a five-month old infant ). Gage was the inspiration and namesake for the Wizard of Oz. Baum hoped his books would be a way to memorialize the infant and honor her unrealized future. Baum's heroine, Dorothy Gale, was supposedly further defined by a newspaper account of a young girl picked up in a tornado and found face down in a mud puddle. Evergreen Cemetery is also where Bloomington notable, Adlai Stevenson Sr. ( U.S. vice president ) and Adlai Stevenson Jr. ( governor of Illinois/U.S. presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956/U.N. Ambassador ) are buried.

TRAVEL IN ILLINOIS Great River Road, National Forest, Wine Country, Indian Mounds, Eclipse .

OUT! Chicago, Illinois LGBTQ Visitor's Guide available .

TRAVEL with Cory Jobe: Trying to be 'amazing' Advertising campaign reaches out to LGBTs .

TRAVEL in ILLINOIS LGBTs in Oak Park and Western Cook County .

TRAVEL IN ILLINOIS Oak Park: The Village Wright Built .

TRAVEL IN ILLINOIS Four towns in DOWNSTATE ILLINOIS well worth the time .

Getting Out: LGBTQ events and mainstream treats .

And here is a PDF of the entire Windy City Times with pull-out section inside: .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Chicago women launch LGBTQ travel companies specializing in same-sex weddings in Italy 2018-06-21 - CHICAGO, IL ( JUNE2018 ) —To Italy lovers, Rome is the most romantic city in Europe — sorry Paris! Amid passionate residents, spectacular ...

Gay News

MORE ON SULLIVAN Reminiscing about Sullivan's theater 2018-06-20 - When I was 19 years old I was an Equity Apprentice at the Little Theatre-on-the-Square. At that time, being an apprentice was ...

Gay News

Activities in Sullivan, Boutiques, antiques, beaches and more 2018-06-20 - From theatergoers to campers to shoppers, Sullivan caters to tourists. The Little Theatre on the Square is the marquee attraction, but there ...

Gay News

VALUE TRAVEL Saugatuck summer getaway: Beaches, winery and more 2018-06-05 - Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan, is the only LGBTQ resort area between the Russian River in California and Provincetown in Massachusetts. The area, located just a ...

Gay News

LGBTQ travel conference looks at sustainability 2018-05-29 - Sustainability, diversity and inclusiveness were among the themes at this years International Gay Lesbian Travel Association Conference, held May 9-12 in Toronto. This ...

Gay News

VALUE TRAVEL A weekend getaway to Toronto 2018-05-15 - Toronto makes a perfect destination for a summer getaway, especially since your U.S. dollar is worth $1.28 Canadian. I was recently there for ...

Gay News

Illinois Tourism Announces New Frank Lloyd Wright Trail in Illinois 2018-05-07 - Chicago, IL — The Illinois Office of Tourism kicks off National Travel and Tourism Week ( NTTW ) May 6-12 by unveiling a ...

Gay News

VALUE TRAVEL Wisconsin weekend a breeze 2018-05-01 - A weekend in Wisconsin is a breeze from Chicago. With six round trips daily, the journey to Milwaukee from Chicago takes just 90 ...

Gay News

VALUE TRAVEL Charlotte: Capital of the New South 2018-04-03 - Have you been to Charlotte, North Carolina, lately? It's reinvented itself again as claims itself to be the capital of the "New South." ...

Gay News

STAYCATION REVIEW LondonHouse Chicago, fabulous-but with a caveat 2018-04-03 - LondonHouse Chicago ( 81 E. Upper Wacker Dr.; ), part of Hilton's Curio Collection, is advertised as a luxury riverfront hotel. Windy ...


Copyright © 2018 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.