Chesney Guest Column: Summer in Northwest Illinois Offers Endless Adventure

With gas prices at record highs, many families are looking for affordable getaways and fun activities closer to home, making this the perfect summer to rediscover all the amazing places northwest Illinois has to offer!

For the outdoorsy and adventure seeking among us, enjoy hiking or camping at Apple River Canyon State Park in Jo Daviess County or the Mississippi Palisades State Park in Carroll County; and go fishing, swimming or camping at the newly renovated Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park in Stephenson County. I had the honor of participating in the ribbon cutting at Lake Le-Aqua-Na last October when it reopened after being closed for 20 months of renovations. If you haven’t been back yet, now is the time!

County Fair season is just around the corner, giving our local 4-H youth a chance to show their animals and families a chance to enjoy an elephant ear and more traditional Fair food, and of course rides! Check out this year’s Stephenson County Fair in Freeport July 26-30; the Ogle County Fair in Oregon August 3-7, the Jo Daviess County Fair in Warren August 5-8, the Carroll County Fair in Milledgeville August 9-13, and the Winnebago County Fair in Pecatonica August 17-21.

The Greater Freeport Partnership has a terrific list of resources on their website with Day Trip Ideas, Craft Breweries, Good Eats & Drinks, Arts & Culture, Museums and Monuments, Lodging/Places to Stay, Outdoor Recreation, Shopping and local events. Check them all out online and plan your next adventure at

If antiquing is one of your hobbies, the Galena area is a must-visit destination with numerous shops always filled with unique and interesting collectibles. There is so much more to see and do in the area too. Discover your next day trip or night out by going to online.

Summer is also an ideal time to enjoy leisure time at home reading books! Studies have shown that reading over the summer break can prevent learning loss for students. To help students stay ahead, I am offering my annual Summer Reading Club to encourage fun and educational reading for kids currently in (or just finished) first through fifth grade. Deadline to join is August 1. Participants choose their own books and keep track of their own reading. Students who successfully complete the reading challenge will be sent special recognition in late summer including an official certificate from the Illinois House of Representatives. Learn more by visiting my website at 

We are blessed to live in an area full of natural beauty and great people. This summer let’s explore local, eat local, shop local and enjoy all the places and events that make Northwest Illinois the best place to call home. I hope to see you out there!