Illinois: Western Illinois
Photo: PHOTO: Panorama of Alton, Illinois across the Mississippi River. (Photo via benkrut / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
You will certainly get your kicks in Chicago all winter long, but this year why not head west to the quaint towns along the Mississippi River? From the Quad Cities region all the way down to Alton along the Great River Road, you will find peace, quiet, and patriotic bird-watching. Yes, because in addition to small-town charm in spades, this region is the winter home for thousands of bald eagles, the largest such gathering in the Lower 48.