Navy Pier Navy Pier, previously known as the Municipal pier, opened in 1916. Its purpose was to be a place for leisure for the public as well as a shipping hub for cargo and passenger ships. Less than a year later, the U.S. declared war on Germany, and the pier adapted to an important role in military preparations. In WWII, it became a naval base.

The University of Illinois satellite campus was created on the pier as a result of the GI bill, a bill that provided benefits to soldiers returning from war. From 1946 to 1965, an estimated 100,000 students took classes there. Once the campus moved off the pier, the pier was unused until 1976 when America’s Biennial was celebrated there. The grand ballroom was reconstructed, and the pier became a Chicago Landmark in 1977. Chicagofest, an annual music festival was created, and it took place on the pier. This festival made the pier more of an attraction until the festival ended in 1983.

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Vase and casket from the 19th centuryColonel Benjamin Stephenson, one of the 33 men who helped design the Illinois Constitution, is one of the founding fathers of Edwardsville, the third oldest city in the state. As a renowned merchant, sheriff, road commissioner, U.S. House of Representative member and Federal Land Officer, Colonel Stephenson left behind a legacy of wealth and political power that is captured in the Benjamin Stephenson House of Southern Illinois.

The Benjamin Stephenson House was built in 1820 as a place of dwelling for Colonel Stephenson and his family. After his death, it survived a series of ownership and is now an establishment recognized by the Illinois Association of Museums. As a museum, it allows patrons to immerse themselves in the 19th century with the help of actors who portray the honest story of the cultural, political, social and architectural beginnings of our state. In addition to these live exhibits, the Benjamin Stephenson House offers holiday food programs which incorporate period-appropriate recipes in modern-day delights, educational lectures, workshops and special events such as trivia nights. It also provides activities from the Stephenson era like bread baking, leatherworking, constructing and period games for entertainment and education.

Just last year it celebrated its 200th anniversary. The site serves as one of Edwardsville’s historic highlights, having housed many of the wealthiest and most powerful political figures in Illinois at its inception. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is among a handful of homes built in the first quarter of the 19th century that remains standing in Illinois. The gravity of these accomplishments can also be seen in the toys, clothing, books and other items from the past available for purchase at the website.

The Benjamin Stephenson House is located at 409 S. Buchanan Street, Edwardsville, IL 62025. Admission fees are $6 for adults, $3 for children between ages 6 and 12, and free for children ages 5 and younger. Masks are required in the building regardless of vaccination status. Tours occur March-December on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. During these same months, tours are available on Sundays from 12-3 p.m. More information can be found at

corn gcab804a5a 1280Illinois is officially home to the world’s largest corn maze. The Richardson Adventure Family Farm’s corn maze in Spring Grove takes the prize with its 10 miles of trails winding through 28 acres of corn stalks. The farm is located about 65 miles away from downtown Chicago. The farm is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and its 2021 theme will be “20 years of a-Maze-ing.”

The maze is actually created out of four smaller mazes. Each one has its own dedicated in-and-out path. There are multiple checkpoints throughout the maze, as well as three bridges that will help people find their bearings while looking at the map.

In order to avoid getting lost in the maze, the traveler must find several key checkpoints on their walk. Finding the checkpoints is the most challenging part of the experience. However, the farm cheers up all its guests by providing fresh donuts and hot chocolate just an easy walk outside the maze. People can typically find their way out in minutes. The challenge is to stay in the maze and make it all the way through. There is a perimeter path surrounding the entire maze, and there are no dead ends in this maze! And participants have the choice to do one maze or all four.

If a difficult challenge is not what someone is feeling up to, there are many other less stressful activities to choose from. The farm has many other attractions, including a 700-foot zip line, a 50-foot observation tower, pedal carts, giant slides, wagon rides and, of course, a pumpkin patch.

The Richardson adventure farm also has a Christmas tree farm during the holiday season. The farm is open Thursday through Sunday through Nov. 7. On Thursdays, the farm is open from 3-9 p.m. then from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

chicago 3524127 1280This marks the fifth year that luxury and lifestyle magazine Condé Nast Traveler has ranked Chicago as the No. 1 big city in the U.S. for its vibrant restaurants, museums, and architecture.

Traveler also published a list of the top hotels in Chicago. The Gwen, a luxury collection hotel on Michigan Avenue, was ranked as the No. 1 hotel in Chicago, followed by the Hotel Julian, Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, as well as Nobu Hotel Chicago in Fulton Market.

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2990857094 8796941f00 bThe Old State Capitol building in Springfield will once again be accepting visitors to take tours of its historic interior beginning Oct. 7. The building has been closed since last spring to facilitate work on repairs.

Many of the repairs, managed by the Illinois Capital Development Board, involve installation of a new roof on the drum that supports the Old Capitol dome, along with restoration of the drum columns and drum windows.

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