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Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. It is the most populous state in the Midwest region; however with 65% of its residents concentrated in the Chicago metropolitan area, most of the state has either a rural or a small town character. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a broad economic base. Illinois is an important transportation hub; the Port of Chicago connects the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River via the Illinois River, and for decades, O'Hare International Airport has ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. As the "most average state", Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and politics.
The Illinois state parks' system began in 1908 with what is now Fort Massac State Park, becoming the first park in a system encompassing over 60 parks and about the same number of recreational and wildlife areas.
Areas under the protection and control of the National Park Service include: the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor near Lockport; the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail; the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield; the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail; the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail; and the American Discovery Trail.
Illinois has a long tradition of motor racing. Oval tracks at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, the Chicago Motor Speedway in Cicero and the Gateway International Raceway in Madison, near St. Louis, have hosted NASCAR, CART and IRL races, whereas the Sports Car Club of America, among other national and regional road racing clubs, have visited the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, the Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit and the former Meadowdale International Raceway in Carpentersville. Illinois also has several short tracks and dragstrips. The dragstrip at Gateway International Raceway and the Route 66 Raceway, which sits on the same property as the Chicagoland Speedway, both host NHRA drag races.
Illinois has numerous museums. The state of the art Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield is the largest presidential library in the country; numerous museums in the city of Chicago are considered some of the best in the world. These include the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry.
For information on tourism in Illinois you can contact the State tourist board at:
Illinois Bureau of Tourism
100 West Randolph Street, Suite 3-400
Chicago IL 60602 Telephone: 800-2- CONNECT toll-free in USA and Canada
Telephone: +1 312 814-4732
Fax: +1 312 814-6175 Idaho Division of Tourism Development
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0093
Talbott Hotel - Chicago The family-owned and operated Talbott Hotel is a European-style boutique hotel situated on a charming tree-lined street just steps from fashionable North Michigan Avenue.
Four Seasons Hotel - Chicago - Chicago Like a residential palace, the Four Seasons is ideally close to business and has indoor access to the exclusive 900 North Michigan Avenue Shops. Our guest rooms and suites feature superior views of the city or the lake. Savor award-winning dining at the Season's four distinctive restaurants. Enjoy the full complimentary health club, with Roman-columned skylighted pool, rooftop running track, high-tech training equipment, whirlpool, sauna and massage. Full-service Business Center, with in-room computer and fax are available. Recreational facilities include a sundeck, an outdoor running track and nearby golf and tennis.
Hotel Monaco Chicago - Chicago Located at the corner of Wacker and Wabash, overlooking the Chicago River and steps from the city's North Michigan Avenue shopping district and its bustling Loop financial district, the Hotel Monaco is an oasis of stylish elegance and comfort. Prepare for a room with pistachio green and butter crème yellow, rich mahogany furnishings and some delightfully whimsical touches.
Le Méridien Chicago - Chicago The 17-story, five-star Le Méridien is located on Michigan Avenue within the North Bridge District, in the heart of Chicago. The 311-room hotel boasts outstanding views, especially to the north and east elevations. It is centrally positioned for both the business and leisure traveler. Newly opened in 2001, the hotel occupies the site of the historic McGraw Hill Building, a Chicago landmark built in 1929.
Market Street Inn - Springfield The Market Street Inn in Taylorville, Illinois is a lovingly cared-for Queen Anne Victorian home of 1892 vintage, which was developed into a bed & breakfast inn in 1994. Constantly undergoing careful renovations and updates, this 6, 000-square foot home features 8 guestrooms, each with a private bath.
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