The Most Beautiful City in Illinois: Appreciating the State's Scenic Gems

Choose the city you think is the most beautiful!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Sep 21, 2023 05:45
Discover the captivating beauty of Illinois and immerse yourself in the splendor of its cities by participating in our latest ranking - "What is the most beautiful city in Illinois?". Unveil the hidden gems and architectural marvels as you explore thousands of polls and rankings on StrawPoll. Make your voice heard and cast your vote for your favorite city, or suggest a missing option that deserves to be on this prestigious list. Ignite your wanderlust and join fellow travelers and locals alike as we embark on a journey to determine the crown jewel of Illinois. Be part of this exciting quest and unravel the enchanting charm of the Prairie State, one city at a time. So, what are you waiting for? Dive into the world of StrawPoll and let the allure of Illinois sweep you off your feet!

What Is the Most Beautiful City in Illinois? (September 2023)

  1. 1
    J. Crocker · Attribution


    Jean Baptiste Point du Sable
    Known for its stunning skyline, world-class museums, and diverse culture, Chicago is often considered the most beautiful city in Illinois.
    Chicago is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city located in the state of Illinois. It is known for its breathtaking architecture, diverse culture, and stunning skyline. With its beautiful lakefront and numerous parks, Chicago offers a unique blend of natural beauty and urban charm. The city is famous for its deep-dish pizza, blues music, and passionate sports fans. Chicago is a melting pot of different ethnicities, creating a rich tapestry of cultural experiences. Renowned for its iconic landmarks such as Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and The Art Institute of Chicago, the city provides endless opportunities for exploration and entertainment. Whether you're strolling along the Magnificent Mile, taking an architecture boat tour along the Chicago River, or catching a show in the renowned theater district, Chicago promises an unforgettable experience for visitors and residents alike.
    • Population: 2.7 million (city proper)
    • Tallest Building: Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)
    • Number of Parks: Over 570 parks in the city
    • Museums: Over 60 museums
    • Public Transit System: Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
    Chicago in other rankings
  2. 2
    DR04 of English Wikipedia · Attribution
    A charming historic town nestled in the rolling hills of northwest Illinois, Galena features well-preserved Victorian-era architecture and picturesque scenery.
    Galena is a charming city located in northwest Illinois, known for its historic charm and picturesque landscapes. It is often regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Illinois.
    • Historic Architecture: Galena is home to well-preserved 19th-century buildings, including Greek Revival, Italianate, and Federal-style architecture.
    • Scenic Beauty: Nestled in the rolling hills of the Galena River Valley, the city offers breathtaking views and stunning natural landscapes.
    • Main Street: Galena's Main Street is lined with charming shops, boutiques, and art galleries, adding to its unique appeal.
    • Galena River: The Galena River meanders through the city, providing opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and scenic boat tours.
    • Galena River Trail: The Galena River Trail offers scenic walking and biking paths, allowing visitors to explore the city's natural beauty.
  3. 3
    Éovart Caçeir (talk) · CC BY-SA 3.0


    John C. Kelly
    The capital city of Illinois, Springfield is home to many historic sites and landmarks, including the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
    Springfield is the capital city of Illinois and a vibrant hub of culture, history, and natural beauty. Known for its charming blend of small-town charm and big-city amenities, Springfield offers a diverse array of attractions and landmarks that make it a must-visit destination for travelers.
    • Population: approximately 114,000
    • Area: approximately 60 square miles
    • Founded: 1821
    • State: Illinois
    • Nickname: The Land of Lincoln
    Springfield in other rankings
  4. 4
    Madcoverboy (talk) · CC BY-SA 3.0


    John Evans
    A vibrant college town located just north of Chicago, Evanston boasts beautiful beaches, parks, and a lively downtown area.
    Evanston is a charming city located in Cook County, Illinois. It is known for its picturesque neighborhoods, blend of architectural styles, and a vibrant downtown area. With its close proximity to Lake Michigan, Evanston boasts stunning beachfront parks and breathtaking lake views. The city is also home to the prestigious Northwestern University, adding a vibrant intellectual and cultural atmosphere to the community.
    • Population: Approximately 75,000
    • Founded: Established in 1863
    • Architecture: Mix of historic and modern styles
    • Downtown Area: Lively and diverse with a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues
    • Beachfront Parks: Beautiful parks along Lake Michigan coastline
    Evanston in other rankings
  5. 5
    Oak Park
    Aude · CC BY-SA 2.5

    Oak Park

    Joseph Kettlestring
    This Chicago suburb is known for its stunning architecture, including several works by Frank Lloyd Wright.
    Oak Park is a charming and picturesque village located in Cook County, Illinois. Known for its rich history, architectural heritage, and vibrant community, Oak Park is often regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the state. The village is situated just west of downtown Chicago, making it a desirable suburban destination for both residents and visitors.
    • Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture: Oak Park is renowned for its abundance of buildings designed by the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The village boasts the largest collection of Wright-designed structures in the world, including his own home and studio.
    • Historic Districts: Oak Park is home to several well-preserved historic districts, such as the Ridgeland-Oak Park Historic District and Frank Lloyd Wright-Prairie School of Architecture Historic District. These districts showcase a variety of architectural styles and offer a glimpse into the village's rich history.
    • Cultural Attractions: Oak Park is teeming with cultural attractions, including the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum, showcasing the famous author's early life, and the Oak Park Conservatory, a beautiful indoor plant oasis.
    • Natural Beauty: The village of Oak Park is blessed with an abundance of green spaces, parks, and tree-lined streets. The scenic landscapes provide a serene backdrop for residents and visitors to enjoy.
    • Community Engagement: Oak Park is known for its strong sense of community and civic engagement. The village actively promotes inclusivity and hosts numerous community events throughout the year, fostering a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.
  6. 6
    John D. Buell · CC BY-SA 2.5
    A suburban city located west of Chicago, Naperville features a charming downtown area, plenty of parks and green spaces, and a thriving arts scene.
    Naperville is a vibrant city located in DuPage and Will counties in Illinois. It is known for its picturesque landscapes, rich history, and strong sense of community. With its combination of small-town charm and modern amenities, Naperville is often considered one of the most beautiful cities in Illinois.
    • Population: Approximately 150,000 residents
    • Riverwalk: The Naperville Riverwalk is a stunning 1.75-mile promenade along the DuPage River and features beautiful landscaping, fountains, memorials, and artwork.
    • Parks: Naperville boasts over 140 parks, offering residents and visitors ample opportunities for outdoor activities and relaxation.
    • Education: The city is home to several reputable educational institutions, including North Central College and a highly regarded public school district.
    • Downtown: The vibrant downtown area of Naperville features a diverse range of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
  7. 7
    A picturesque suburb located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Lake Forest is home to many historic mansions and estates, as well as a vibrant downtown area.
    Lake Forest is a picturesque city located in Lake County, Illinois. It is known for its natural beauty, historic architecture, and upscale residences. Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, the city offers stunning views of the water, as well as lush greenery and well-maintained parks.
    • Population: Approximately 19,375 people
    • Area: Approximately 17.24 square miles
    • Median Household Income: $220,538
    • Median Property Value: $1,003,800
    • Historic Homes: Lake Forest is home to many architecturally significant residential properties.
  8. 8
    Kelly · CC BY-SA 3.0
    This western Illinois city is known for its beautiful parks and public art installations, as well as its association with the poet Carl Sandburg.
    Galesburg is a charming city located in the state of Illinois. It offers a unique blend of historical charm, natural beauty, and cultural attractions. The city is home to a vibrant downtown area, picturesque neighborhoods, and a welcoming community.
    • Location: Galesburg is situated in Knox County, in the western part of Illinois. It is approximately 45 miles northwest of Peoria and 50 miles southeast of the Quad Cities.
    • Historical Significance: Galesburg played a prominent role in the abolitionist movement and was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It is also known for being the birthplace and longtime residence of poet and writer Carl Sandburg.
    • Education: Galesburg is home to Knox College, a prestigious liberal arts college established in 1837. The college campus features beautiful architecture and contributes to the city's intellectual and cultural atmosphere.
    • Attractions: The city boasts various attractions, including the Galesburg Railroad Museum, Discovery Depot Children's Museum, Lake Storey Recreation Area, and the Orpheum Theatre, a historic venue for performing arts.
    • Natural Beauty: Galesburg is surrounded by picturesque landscapes and offers outdoor enthusiasts opportunities for hiking, biking, and boating. Lake Storey, Lake Bracken, and Carl Sandburg State Historic Site are among the notable natural attractions.
  9. 9


    James T. Gifford
    Located in the Fox River Valley, Elgin features a historic downtown area, scenic riverwalk, and many beautiful parks and nature preserves.
    Elgin is a picturesque city located in northeastern Illinois. It is often referred to as 'The City in the Suburbs' due to its unique combination of suburban charm and urban amenities. Elgin boasts a rich history and is recognized for its stunning architecture, vibrant arts scene, and abundance of natural beauty.
    • Population: Approximately 112,456
    • Area: 37.7 square miles
    • Founded: 1836
    • County: Kane County
    • Architecture: Notable Victorian and Gothic Revival buildings
  10. 10
    Alexbaumgarner · CC BY-SA 4.0
    This mid-sized city in northern Illinois is home to many parks, museums, and cultural attractions, as well as several stunning public art installations.
    Rockford is a vibrant city located in northern Illinois. It is known for its natural beauty, cultural diversity, and rich history. The city offers a mix of urban amenities and outdoor recreational opportunities. Rockford's charm lies in its stunning landscapes, impressive architecture, and a bustling downtown area.
    • Lakes: Has numerous lakes and water-based activities
    • Population: Approximately 147,000 residents
    • Area: Approximately 61 square miles
    • River: Rock River flows through the city
    • Parks: Over 10,000 acres of parks and forests

Missing your favorite city?


Ranking factors for beautiful city

  1. Aesthetic Appeal
    Evaluate the city's overall visual beauty, including architectural styles, historic districts, and the presence and maintenance of parks and green spaces.
  2. Natural Surroundings
    Consider the natural setting and geographic features of the city, such as rivers, lakes, hills, and forests, and how well these are integrated into the urban environment.
  3. Cultural Attractions
    Examine the variety and quality of cultural offerings, such as museums, galleries, theaters, and music venues, as well as the availability of diverse dining and shopping options.
  4. Cleanliness and Well-maintained Infrastructure
    Assess the general cleanliness of streets, sidewalks, and public spaces, as well as the condition of roads, bridges, public transit, and other infrastructure.
  5. Walkability and Accessibility
    Evaluate how easy it is to navigate the city on foot or via public transit, as well as the availability of bike lanes or pedestrian-friendly areas.
  6. Safety and Low Crime Rates
    Consider the overall safety of the city and its neighborhoods, including crime statistics, the visibility of law enforcement, and the feeling of personal security within public spaces.
  7. Economic Vibrancy
    Look at the city's overall economic health, including employment opportunities, per capita income, cost of living, and overall quality of life.
  8. Educational Institutions
    Take into account the presence and quality of colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning, which can contribute to the city's overall attractiveness and vibrancy.
  9. Historic Preservation
    Consider the city's efforts to preserve and showcase its history, including the preservation of historic sites, buildings, and districts.
  10. Community Engagement
    Evaluate the sense of community within the city, including resident involvement in local organizations, events, and initiatives, as well as the availability of community resources and support systems.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most beautiful city in Illinois. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or your favorite city is missing from the list, feel free to help us improve the ranking.


  • 161 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Movers & Shakers

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each city once every 24 hours. The rank of each city is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


More information on most beautiful city in illinois

Illinois, the Prairie State, is known for its bustling cities, diverse culture, and natural beauty. With its iconic skyline and rich history, Illinois is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. But when it comes to deciding which city in Illinois is the most beautiful, opinions may vary. From the charming streets of Galena to the stunning architecture of Chicago, Illinois has no shortage of picturesque cities. Whether you prefer the bustling energy of the Windy City or the peaceful serenity of smaller towns, Illinois has something to offer everyone. So, what is the most beautiful city in Illinois? That's up to you to decide. At StrawPoll, we invite you to share your thoughts and vote on the most beautiful city in Illinois.