Travel & Tourism
Enjoy Illinois Summer 2012 PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Illinois Office of Tourism   
Monday, 25 June 2012 07:40
Enjoy Illinois Summer 2012
Nothing says summer like a getaway together, whether it's with the family or just the two of you. In Illinois, you'll find getaways filled with everything from zoos and music festivals to charming vineyards and superheroes. Discover even more ways to make unforgettable memories, along with exclusive deals that make getting away even more tempting.
Best Bets for Summer
History Comes Alive History Comes Alive
Journey back to the Springfield Lincoln knew and loved as costumed re-enactors give free performances on downtown streets and at nearby attractions.
Music Festivals Music Festivals
Enjoy the sweet sounds of summer at music festivals throughout Illinois, including Lollapalooza, Ravinia, On the Waterfront and more.

Top Fests Top Fests
Whether you like food on a stick or Shakespeare in the park, there’s a festival for you. Top fests include Taste of Chicago, DuQuoin State Fair and the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.
Illinois Fan Favorites Illinois Fan Favorites
Starved Rock State Park has been voted the favorite attraction by our Facebook followers. The finalists include: Museum of Science and Industry, Galena’s Historic Main Street and Brookfield Zoo.

175 Days to Love Chicago Zoos
Explore wildlife from around the world when you spend time with polar bears, dolphins, giraffes and more at the Brookfield, Lincoln Park, Scovill and Niabi zoos.
Millennium Park, Chicago
Don't Miss...
Illinois State Fair, August 9-19
Experience a summer tradition like no other, where you’ll find everything from carnival rides and tasty treats to live concerts and rodeos.
Grafton Zipline Adventures
Get your adrenaline rush on nearly two miles of ziplines that whisk you through a lush forest during a two-hour tour.

What Else Is New?
Explore the charm and fun of Illinois Wine Country in a new section featuring more than 90 wineries throughout the state.

Discover places we have pinned throughout the state on our new Pinterest boards for Illinois tourism.

Did You Know?
Tempel Lipizzan
The Tempel Lipizzan horses are back with performances featuring the graceful beauty and poetic maneuvers of these royal steeds.

American Girls dinner and private cruise
Photo: © 2012 American Girl
You can enjoy an American Girl dinner and private cruise on the Chicago River July 15 & 29; August 5 & 12.

Smallville Superfest
The new Superman movie, Man of Steel, was filmed in Plano. Can’t wait for the movie? Get your superhero fix in Plano at Smallville Superfest August 17-19.

Illinois Summer Deals

From $149/night
Holiday Inn

Raging Rivers Package
• Overnight accommodations for four
• Raging Rivers Waterpark tickets
• Breakfast buffet

From $131/night
President Abraham Lincoln Hotel

Presidential Package
• One night in a newly renovated guestroom
• Breakfast buffet for two in Lindsay's
• Tickets to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential
Library & Museum
From $154/night
Residence Inn Chicago Downtown

Water Tower Place Shopping Package
• $50 American Express gift card
• Water Tower Place Premier Perks Coupons
• Water Tower Place gift/tote bag
• Complimentary hot breakfast buffet

From $100/night *
Timber Ridge Outpost & Cabins

Tree House & Cabin Package
• Stay in a private treehouse or log cabin
• Free 30-minute archery lesson
* Three-night minimum

View more deals

What would you like us to feature in upcoming E-Newsletters?

Railroad Days 2012: An Annual Celebration of all things Train & Track PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Shawna Forsberg   
Monday, 25 June 2012 07:31

Celebrating Union Pacific’s 150th Anniversary

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act 150 years ago, establishing the Union Pacific Railway Company and connecting the nation. On Saturday, July 14, and Sunday, July 15, Lauritzen Gardens, the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, The Durham Museum, Joslyn Art Museum, the RailsWest Railroad  Museum, and the Historic General Dodge House are coming together to celebrate Union Pacific’s sesquicentennial and explore this region’s rich railroad heritage at Railroad Days 2012!

Each participating venue will offer a variety of family-friendly activities in addition to the venues’ ongoing programs and exhibits. A $15 family pass allows admission to and transportation between all six locations. A $5 pass is also available for one additional adult with the purchase of a family pass. While supplies last, each child will also receive a coloring book complements of Union Pacific. Additional information is available at

Railroad Days is made possible thanks to the generous support of Union Pacific Railroad and a grant provided by the Iowa West Foundation. Media support provided by KETV. Printing support provided by Elman & Co.

At Lauritzen Gardens, experience a stunning collection of Mother Nature’s finest in incredible, vivid, living color. Enjoy 20 inspiring gardens- each a welcoming place of surprise and wonder that change with the seasons and evoke a sensory experience. During Railroad Days, botanical meets mechanical at Lauritzen Gardens.

Visit the model railroad garden to discover seven bridge-chugging, tunnel-zooming G-scale train lines winding through replicas of Omaha’s favorite landmarks. Look closely- all bridges, trestles and buildings are made of natural bark, twigs, acorns and seeds. Amazing! Stop by the control shed to meet our friendly engineers.

Fun is just around the bend with free rides through the garden on board the popular Union Pacific miniature train, a scale model of a 900-series locomotive. Children can also enjoy complimentary rides on a classic 1949 King Amusement Company On-Track Train Ride as it chugs along tracks through the scenic festival garden patio.

Join the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in celebrating Union Pacific’s 150th anniversary with our newest exhibit “Building America”. Since opening in 2003, the Union Pacific Railroad Museum’s first floor has been dedicated to sharing the experience of building the Transcontinental Railroad. The new exhibit takes the telling of this story to an entirely new level. With a new immersive design and cutting-edge technology, visitors will be transported to the 1860s as they learn about the monumental work needed for constructing the railroad and the communities that were created along its route. Showcasing over 200 artifacts, some dating back to the 1860s many of our larger collections will be on display for the first time; including 55 firearms, 60 railroad lanterns and 64 stereographic images from the building of the transcontinental railroad.

Housed in a historic Carnegie library, the Union Pacific Railroad Museum features one of the oldest corporate collections in the nation. Here, you’ll journey through more than 150 years of history, experiencing the transcontinental railroad’s construction; the Lincoln Collection, featuring artifacts from President Abraham Lincoln’s rail car and funeral; the “America Travels by Rail” exhibit, which celebrates the height of passenger travel; and the technology and innovation that sustain Union Pacific as a railroad industry leader.

On January 15, 1931, Omaha’s Union Station opened its doors to the public and was recognized as one of the finest examples of art deco architecture in the Midwest. In its heyday, the station served over ten thousand passengers daily. Today, Union Station is home to The Durham Museum, one of the country’s most vibrant and beautiful hands-on museums. Visitors can explore exhibits that preserve the areas rich history including an extensive train car exhibit with steam engines, a Pullman car, Lounge cars, and a caboose. There is also an impressive 100-foot O gauge model train layout representing Union Pacific’s double track main line during the 1950s. Be sure to stop by the museum’s original soda fountain for decadent ice cream treats.

During Railroad Days, see the original Pacific Railway Act signed by Abraham Lincoln in July 1, 1862. This national treasure is on loan to The Durham Museum from the National Archives. There will also be many activities for children including a puzzle station with images from The Durham’s Photo Archive, temporary tattoo stations, and crafts including design your own name train and create your own postcards.

Joslyn Art Museum is a major regional resource for the collection, preservation, and interpretation of the visual arts. The Museum was a gift to the people of Omaha from Sarah Joslyn in memory of her husband, George - both were involved Omaha citizens and generous philanthropists. The Museum’s original 1931 building is one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the nation, with 38 types of marble from seven countries.

See the exhibition The Great West Illustrated: Celebrating 150 Years of the Union Pacific Railroad, organized by Joslyn in collaboration with the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. While visiting Joslyn during Railroad Days, hear Toby Jurovics, Chief Curator and Richard and Mary Holland Curator of American Western Art, give an introduction to The Great West Illustrated in the Museum’s lecture hall at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm each day. Younger visitors will enjoy making “train art” by decorating their own 2-D train car and adding an easel backing to make it stand. We’ll line them up and see how far the train stretches! Live music will be performed outdoors in the garden throughout the weekend to keep everyone’s toes tappin’. An array of self-guided activities, from the Kids Can Do art station and Art Packs to sculpture garden and gallery scavenger hunts, will also be available.

Perhaps one of Council Bluffs’ most famous residents, Gen. Grenville M. Dodge has been called “the greatest railroad builder of all time.” A Civil War veteran, Dodge’s involvement in political, financial and military affairs made him an associate of many of the most influential Americans of his time and counsel to presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

In 1869, Dodge built his handsome Victorian home at 605 Third Street at the cost of $35,000, a lavish sum for that day. The fourteen-room, three-story mansion stands on a high terrace overlooking the Missouri Valley, and displays such architectural features as parquet floors, cherry, walnut and butternut woodwork, and a number of “modern” conveniences quite unusual for the period.

During Railroad Days, the Historic General Dodge House will unveil its newest exhibit, Dodge’s Tracks and Ties in the eight lower level display cases. Follow the footsteps of General Dodge from his early years in Massachusetts, traveling to Iowa with the railroad, his business ventures, military career and friendships with such notable people as Lincoln and Grant. Civil War re-enactors will also be present on the grounds.

The RailsWest Railroad Museum, located in the historic Rock Island Depot, features displays and artifacts from the numerous rail lines that passed through Council Bluffs. The museum is home to an extensive H.O. scale model train layout operated by the Greater Omaha Society of Model Engineers that is a must see for rail fans of all ages. Outside in the train yard visitors are invited to climb aboard the old steam engines and take a ride down memory lane or just sit back and relax in the Omaha Club car that ran between Chicago, IL and Lincoln, NE with a stop in Council Bluffs. Visitors can imagine themselves riding along behind the train in the 1918 cupola style caboose or in the 1967 bay window style caboose. For a challenge, try your hand at sorting mail in the mail car and learn  some interesting facts about the men and women that worked the rails. There is always plenty to see and do while visiting the RailsWest Railroad Museum.

During Railroad Days, visitors will be treated to live music by Perry Burkum and other talented local bands. Vendors will be on hand with mouthwatering hamburgers, hot dogs, and refreshments and there will be plenty of fun and games for the whole family.

New Missouri Welcome Center Opens PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Sarah Luebbert   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:09
Travelers to Missouri Welcomed At New Center

Jefferson City, Mo. — Just in time for the peak of the summer travel season, the Missouri Division of Tourism (MDT) is opening a new Official Missouri Welcome Center in northwest Missouri, on southbound I-29, near Rock Port. The new facilities replace the former building, which dated to the 1930s.

Officials with MDT will join those from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. June 27 at the Rock Port Welcome Center; the public and the media are invited to attend.

“The new, modern facilities offer a comfortable resting point, assisting our travelers as they explore familiar and new treasures in Missouri,” said Beverly King, supervisor of the Rock Port Welcome Center. “We highlight local and state-wide lodging, attractions, dining options, state parks and historic sites, museums and hidden treasures off the beaten path to help travelers find enjoyable activities throughout Missouri. We are here to provide a welcome and to offer suggestions of how they might enjoy their journey."

In addition to information highlighting Missouri's tourism assets, the center includes an expanded parking area, picnic sites, a play area for children, and restroom facilities.

“Our welcome centers and staff play an important role contributing to Missouri’s economy,” said Katie Steele Danner, director of Missouri Division of Tourism. “Last year, Missouri welcomed more than 36 million visitors. Research shows travelers who stopped in at one of our welcome centers spent more time and more money in Missouri than they had originally planned. This concierge service is helpful to our guests, and our staff offers relevant travel suggestions."

During the opening ceremonies, the city of Rock Port will be recognized for its contribution to the facility. MoDOT officials will rededicate the center in honor of Senator Hardin Cox and will unveil a Blue Star Memorial Highway bronze marker.

The Division of Tourism operates six additional Official Welcome Centers: Joplin, beside I-44; Kansas City, on I-70; Hayti, beside I-55; Eagleville, along I-35; Hannibal, on Route 61; and St. Louis, off of I-270 North.

About the Missouri Division of Tourism
The Missouri Division of Tourism (MDT) is the official tourism office for the state of Missouri dedicated to marketing Missouri as a premier travel destination. Established in 1967, the Missouri Division of Tourism has worked hard to develop the tourism industry in Missouri to what it is today, an $11.2 billion industry supporting more than 279,000 jobs and generating $627 million in state taxes in Fiscal Year 2011. For every dollar spent on marketing Missouri as a travel destination in FY11, $57.76 was returned in visitor expenditures. For more information on Missouri tourism, go to

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Grand Canyon Rafting - the Demand is Back PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Cindy Woudenberg   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:59

Grand Canyon, AZ (June, 2012) - Travel demand is back for Grand Canyon rafting trips during the summer months of June, July and August. Historically this has been the prime time for the limited number of commercial whitewater trips available on the Colorado River through Grand Canyon. Arizona River Runners sees this trend returning as demand increases for these Colorado River trips.

If you have a Grand Canyon family rafting trip on your bucket list, now is the time to plan ahead and secure your space for summer 2013. Reservations are normally made up to a year in advance with many trips selling out immediately after they are made available. There are group rates offered for families and corporate groups of 10 or more traveling together.  Now for a limited time, Arizona River Runners is still accepting 2013 reservations at current 2012 prices. To take advantage of this win-win special, you need to act now because it won’t last long.

The popular early season “Hikers’ Specials”, introduced a few years ago, are available for 2013 in April and early May for those adventure seekers and hiking enthusiasts who don’t have to plan their travel around school schedules. These 6, 7, 10 and 12 day white water rafting trips offer additional time for side canyon exploration during the milder Arizona spring temperatures. Many of these amazing hiking trails are only accessible from the Colorado River.

Arizona River Runners Grand Canyon raft trips are all-inclusive; everything is supplied from camping equipment and rafting gear to food, drinks, snacks and more. To secure a whitewater trip for 2013 at 2012 rates call 1-80-477-7238. For your trip of a lifetime don’t just look at the Canyon…experience it from the Colorado River looking up. You may never be the same!

Grand Canyon Rafting









About Arizona River Runners

White water rafting through the Grand Canyon offers a unique view of one of the most popular natural wonders of the world. Experience the vacation adventure of a lifetime on a Grand Canyon rafting trip with Arizona River Runners.  Since 1970 they have provided all-inclusive Grand Canyon whitewater trips with customized rafts, all the camping and rafting gear, and food for your Colorado River trip.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site -- This week’s National Park Getaway PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Adam Prato   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 13:14
WEST BRANCH, Iowa – This week the National Park Getaway takes readers to east central Iowa to visit the birthplace of the 31st president of the United States.

Ten miles east of Iowa City, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site tells the story of Hoover’s life and achievements, and how a small community opened a world of opportunity to a child of simple beginnings.

Visitors can tour the cottage where Hoover was born, a blacksmith shop, West Branch’s first one-room schoolhouse, and the Friends Meetinghouse where the Hoover family worshipped. Also located on the grounds are the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum, the gravesites of President and Mrs. Hoover and an 81-acre tallgrass prairie.

If you visit this summer, you’ll find plenty of activities designed to entertain. The park is hosting a summer concert series on Thursdays through June and family day camps throughout July. If you’re in the area, you won’t want to miss the annual Hoover’s Hometown Days festival, celebrated during the first weekend of August.

Visit to learn about Herbert Hoover and the turbulent era of his presidency.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 397 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at

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