meerkats zoo animals zoological gardenIt’s time to meet some of the most exotic animals in the world, because today is National Zoo Lovers Day! Illinois is home to many zoos that provide residents and tourists the opportunity to witness some extraordinary and loveable animals.

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Susan Lawrence Dana House 7167054249The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is offering virtual tours of the Dana Thomas House historic site in Springfield. Designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the house is thought to have one of the most intact interiors designed by Wright in the United States. Take a fun and informative journey through a piece of American history.

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Second City2

If you watched the Golden Globes this past Sunday, you might have recognized a few famous actors, actresses and comedians that got their start through Chicago’s world-famous improv comedy theater, The Second City.

Founded by Bernard Sahlins, Paul Sills and Howard Alk, the improvisational comedy theater opened its doors in December of 1959. The venue put on shows that were a mix of semi-improvised and scripted scenes, often offering satirical commentary on current events. At first, the theater hosted one resident company, but that quickly expanded to two, and soon multiple touring companies also took the stage.

Today, The Second City still resides in Chicago with training centers in Toronto and Hollywood. Locations offer classes to aspiring comedians and a circulating lineup of themed shows.

The list of award-winning actors who got their start at The Second City is long, with many going on to find fame in well-known movies or on shows like Saturday Night Live. Alumni of The Second City include Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bill Murray, Eugene Levy, John Belushi, Chris Farley, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell and Aidy Bryant, just to name a few.

With awards show season upon us, take note of how many nominees might have gotten their start at this stronghold of comedy, based right here in Illinois.

For more information on The Second City visit their website.

Lincoln's New Salem With President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday coming up on Feb. 12, what better way to celebrate than by taking a stroll through the New Salem State Historic Site in Petersburg, a reconstruction of the village where Honest Abe lived and worked from 1831 to 1837.

New Salem was originally founded in 1829 when a flour mill was built on the Sangamon River. Soon, lots surrounding the mill were sold for businesses and homes, and the town grew rapidly.

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Emiquon Wildlife RefugeRight outside Lewistown in central Illinois lies Emiquon, one of the Midwest’s largest floodplain restoration projects. At nearly 6,000 acres, the wildlife refuge contains a diverse array of native plant and animal species in a complex system of wetlands and lakes. Additionally, Emiquon’s proximity to Dickson Mounds and its own 149 documented archaeological sites make it one of the richest Native American cultural sites in the country.

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