Awesome Towns In Illinois You May Not Have Heard Of

Train tracks in Edwardsville, Illinois
Train tracks in Edwardsville, Illinois | Unsplash | Jeannette Carrington
Elizabeth Newhart

Sometimes it’s not all about Chicago. Like New Yorkers, Illinois residents can get so caught up in the city that they don’t consider the rest of the state. But while it’s true that Chicago exceeds every other Illinois city by far in population and square mileage, there are several compelling reasons to venture out to the many charming small towns that dot the state. Read up on a few great ones from northern, central and southern Illinois that are sure to charm the inquisitive tourist. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Leland Grove

Population: 1,545

This tiny town in central Illinois is sectioned out from the state capital, Springfield, putting it in a prime location. According to AreaVibes, Leland Grove has a high liveability score of 87 with access to great amenities, employment opportunities and low crime rates. It gets all the benefits of the Springfield metropolitan area whilst maintaining a small-town feel. It’s almost exclusively residential but does lay claim to the popular 100-year old Illinois Country Club and golf course.

Leland Grove, IL, USA


Population: 45,556

Elmhurst is a western suburb of Chicago that doesn’t get enough recognition. Its high livability score of 86 speaks to its terrific school districts and real estate market, but the community is bigger than the numbers. They are known for Elmhurst College, their impressive city parades on Memorial Day and St. Patrick’s Day, and the Wilder Park Conservatory. There’s enough to do around the picturesque town to warrant a lengthy stay.

Elmhurst, IL, USA


Population: 1,530

Teutopolis in southeastern Illinois has a unique name, and it refers to the City of Teutons, e.g. Germans. German immigrants founded the small village in 1839 and its current residents still largely come from European descent. It’s a tiny place with an old school feel that prides itself on its education system and low crime rates. According to their website, ‘T-Town’ is ‘a place where people and neighbors still look after each other’s kids, watch over each other’s houses, and share laughter and good times together.’ Visit their monastery museum or the TREC Recreational Trail.

Teutopolis, IL, USA


Train tracks in Edwardsville, Illinois

Population: 24,663

Edwardsville has been an official Illinois town since 1818, making it the third oldest in the entire state. It’s home to SIUE: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, one of the largest college campuses in the country in terms of area. Devoted to higher education, the town also hosts state-of-the-art community sports facilities and a thriving business market. The Wildey Theatre is one of the most beloved places in town and houses local art, theatre and music performances.

Edwardsville, IL, USA

Oak Lawn

Population: 57,073

With one of the larger suburban populations, Oak Lawn has always had a close relationship with Chicago. It borders the city and residents have a lot of crossover to neighborhoods Mount Greenwood and Beverly. It has a substantial nightlife and entertainment scene as well as Advocate Christ Medical Center, a major Chicagoland hospital. Though an urbanized suburb, its Wolfe Wildlife Refuge is a welcome tree-lined escape to nature. Residents take advantage of the 45 acre green space, pond, park and picnic area all year round.

Oak Lawn, IL, USA


Population: 3,581

The village of Forsyth sits just north of Decatur in central Illinois. It has the Hickory Point Mall, the Hickory Point Golf Course, and enough different species of trees around town to earn the title of USA Tree City for 20 consecutive years. Forsyth is nestled between hundreds of acres of farmland, making it the quintessential Midwest farm town – where the people are kind and the plains are open wide.

Forsyth, IL, USA

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