Indiana & Illinois
Regional Focus
Farm-to-table restaurants, eclectic shopping, tree-filled vistas and national history, these Midwestern states offer up cultural delights aplenty. Clarissa Waldron takes a tour.

The Midwestern US states of Indiana and Illinois are famed for farmland, deep valleys, forests, rolling hills and all-American small towns, but these neighbours also exude sophistication and culture, commanding universal appeal.

 

In both states the cities - including Chicago, Naperville, Springfield, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne - are naturally littered with museums, galleries, planetariums, parks, theatres, zoos and cultural trails to keep students occupied.

 

 

Chicago, Illinois, the third largest city in the USA, is famous for its sleek skyscrapers, music venues and proximity to Lake Michigan - the only one of the five great lakes of North America located in the USA - with its pier, picturesque water views and fairground attractions. Elsewhere, shopaholics can indulge in the department stores along Chicago's Magnificent Mile.

 

History comes alive in Illinois, where Abraham Lincoln's living legacy shines and where the Unesco World Heritage Centre, Cahokia Mounds, stands. A trip out to Amish country, where horse and cart rule the roads, reveals a simpler way of life that has endured for centuries.

 

Indianapolis in Indiana boasts six designated cultural districts including White River State Park as well as a hidden network of subterranean passageways tangled beneath the city's bustling city market. The city also features a Painted Rainbow Bridge at the entrance to Broad Ripple Village, a flamboyant decoration that signals the city's diversity.

 

Hikers, bikers and mountain climbers can all head south to the Brown County State Park to take in some of the most beautiful scenes in North America. In Bloomington the abandoned limestone quarry is a must.

 

 


 


Things to do and see


Willis Tower
A good way to see Chicago is from the top of the Willis Tower, says Katherine Pope at North Central College www.northcentralcollege.edu. Four glass boxes hover over 1,000 feet in the air. "It's the tallest building in the western hemisphere!"

 

 

Watch a baseball game
"Baseball is the quintessential American sport, and it doesn't get more American than going for an afternoon or evening to one of the oldest fields in the country - Chicago's Wrigley Field," enthuses Kelsey Howard at Roosevelt University www.roosevelt.edu.

 

 

Museums and galleries
Dino Pruccoli at DePaul University www.depaul.edu recommends the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lollapalooza festival and the International Museum of Surgical Science. "It's North American's only museum devoted to surgery, with over 7,000 medical artefacts spanning centuries." Or Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop in Evanston, Illinois; a wonderful shop of curiosities.

 

 

 


 


Places to eat and drink

 

"Lou Malnati's Pizzeria is a great place for students to get authentic Chicago-style pizza. It's just a five-minute walk from campus and on a nice day you can also choose to eat outside", says Katherine.

 

 

"The city is decidedly foodie, with everything from Michelin-starred fine dining to local hot dog stands serving up favourites for the past six decades," says Kelsey. Visit Peach and Green for fresh sandwiches or Stan's Donuts - originally from Los Angeles - these doughnuts are arguably the best in the city.

 

"Portillo's is a Chicago institution," says Dino. "They have the best Chicago-style hotdogs in the city! An all-beef frankfurter on a poppy seed bun...topped with mustard, onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt."


 

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