11 Things People Miss When They Leave Illinois

Charles Mound, Illinois
Charles Mound, Illinois | © CC0 Public Domain / GoodFreePhotos
Stephanie Weber

Illinois is one beautiful state that can be hard to leave, but unfortunately some people do have to make the move out of this Midwestern gem. No one leaves without missing a few of its special quirks and prizes though, so here’s a list of 11 things that people hanker after when they leave Illinois.

Corn and soybean fields

When people think of Illinois they usually picture acres and acres of green summer soybeans and tall corn stalks. If it’s the autumn then you’ll see golden fields that look like they come out of a magazine photo. These tranquil, flat scenes might be tiresome when seen every single day, but the second people move away from Illinois it’s top of the list of missed things. There is a lot of beauty in these gorgeous farm fields!

View of the Konow Corn Maze in Homer Glen, IL

A real snow day

People in Illinois know how to handle snow, more so than most other places in the country. When people move away from Illinois, they will likely miss waking up to mountains of snow after a heavy blizzard. People even miss shoveling a driveway full of snow or calling “dibs” on a parking spot in a city street (a highly controversial move that only seems to exist in Illinois). More than anything? People miss an Illinois road during the snow. Only Illinois drivers know how to handle traffic during a snowstorm!


Hearing every accent from Wisconsin to Chicago

If someone lives in northern Illinois, they likely hear strong Wisconsin-inspired accents. If someone lives anywhere near Chicagoland, then they hear ‘da bears’ on a regular basis. If someone lives down in southern Illinois, people tend to talk with a twang. No matter where you go in Illinois, you hear specific accent mixes that change from town to town. Illinois is an audio melting pot of accents that people will miss when they move!

Hearing about Abe Lincoln everywhere

It’s nearly impossible to travel in Illinois without hearing a tall tale about the tallest president in American history. Some are true and some are urban legend, but Illinoisans know that Abe Lincoln got around. If people move to the coasts, they aren’t as likely to hear inspiring stories of Abraham Lincoln and all the hotels and taverns he frequented. Lincoln legends are something to miss when people decide to live elsewhere.

Abraham Lincoln

Frank Lloyd Wright houses

Frank Lloyd Wright designed a number of homes all around Illinois, most notably in Oak Park. Other Illinois towns that boast Frank Lloyd Flavor include Rockford, Peoria, Springfield, Kankakee, River Forest, Riverside, Elmhurst, Batavia, Glencoe, Highland Park, Wilmette, Libertyville, Kenilworth, Geneva and Chicago. He made his mark all over the great state with his clean lines and large windows that appear ahead of their time. While he has occasional designs in other states, Illinois remains king of Wright’s homes. People miss spotting these beautiful buildings when they travel from town to town all over the state.


The best zoo around

Access to Brookfield Zoo is something to miss when moving out of Illinois. This is a world-class zoo that boasts over 450 species of animals under its huge premises. The large zoo sits in Brookfield, Illinois, and is one of the few places in the world to house giant pandas and the first in America to do so. In the 1980s, Brookfield even introduced an indoor dolphin exhibit to bring more underwater wildlife to anyone who visits this Illinois zoo. Sure, there are zoos in other states and countries, but few are as great as Brookfield!


Cheering for the Fighting Illini

Illinois has no shortage of amazing sports teams and that includes college sports. The Fighting Illini play their hearts out so much in the college basketball circuit that they continually prove their worth as a Big Ten school. Illinoisans might be torn during college football season between Northwestern or U of I, but either one is a great choice! People love cheering for U of I in Illinois no matter where they went to school and people who leave this state typically miss watching the games in local bars, tailgating, or making the trek to Champaign in order to watch a game.

Seeing bald eagles

Illinois has a lot of beautiful wildlife, but this is one of the few states that has bald eagles. The all-American bird frequents the Fox River, Pere Marquette and Starved Rock among several fields and forests throughout this great state. When people leave Illinois, they rarely have the chance to spot our nation’s bird while going for a drive or a hike. Illinoisans have to soak up their eagle spotting in Illinois before they move!

Bald eagle I

Eating at Portillo’s

There is a ton of delicious regional foods to miss when people leave Illinois, but it can all be summed up in the Chicago-based local food chain Portillo’s. From Chicago-style hot dogs to wet Italian beef sandwiches, Portillo’s proudly serves the Chicago suburbs and several Illinois towns the kinds of flavors that can only be enjoyed this side of Lake Michigan. That’s right, we said “wet” beef. Beef sandwiches in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs and towns are known for being drenched in au jus until they are basically wet. Trust us: it’s worth it. Portillo’s is a tourist attraction for a reason!


Route 66

The famous Route 66 starts in Chicago and winds through Illinois straight to California. Route 66 officially begins on Addams Street in the heart of downtown Chicago and zooms down to East St. Louis making for a variety of attractions and famous stories that all Illinoisans have a special fondness for. While Route 66 does venture through the rest of the west, people who move away do miss the great Illinois 66 attractions like The Gemini Giant, Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket, Rich & Creamy Ice Cream with the famous Blues Brothers statues on top, The Soulsby Service Station, the quaint town of Atlanta, The Mustang Corral, the historic Cahokia Mounds and the beautiful Chain of Rocks Bridges that stretch to St. Louis. All these sites and more are to be missed when you leave this great state!



No matter where you go in Illinois, people will say hello. Midwestern politeness is alive and well from the rural towns to the cities all over this great state. People definitely miss the way that strangers can strike up conversation with you whether you’re in Chicago, Urbana, Dixon, McHenry, Metropolis, or Mattoon. Illinoisans know how to be friendly and polite no matter what town they live in, so even if people move away they will always be welcome back. Ope, we’ll miss ya, stranger!

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