More About the Best Small Towns to Visit in the Midwest From Lorena Petani

Lorena Petani
3 min readMar 15, 2021

When it comes to the best towns to check out in the Midwest, many of them are in Illinois, says Chicago’s film Site Finding expert Lorena Petani.

These small towns offer up lots of history and charm, while also offering prime dining and accommodations. They also offer tourist spots that are worth stopping for and exploring — some of which have attracted the attention of film companies.

Explore the Former Home of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield

Photo Credit: Lorena Petani

One destination that is a must-visit is Springfield, Illinois. Once the home of President Abraham Lincoln, there are several attractions in Springfield that honor his history, explains Lorena Petani.

For example, there’s Lincoln’s home itself, which is still intact and in immaculate condition. The home is now a National Historic Site, originally bought by Lincoln and his wife in 1844 and subsequently expanded into two full stories. You can also take a virtual tour of this historic treasure.

Also in Springfield, IL, is the Abraham Lincoln Library and Presidential Museum, which offers visitors a glimpse into the life of Lincoln and his family, as well as artifacts. The museum is offering a variety of virtual events in March.

You’ll find signs of Lincoln’s legacy in other places throughout Springfield. His statue stands prominently at the Illinois State Capitol building and there’s a Lincoln Log Cabin exhibit, another historic landmark where Lincoln’s father and stepmother resided.

Atlanta and Galena Also Well Worth a Look, Says Lorena Petani

Photo Credit: Lorena Petani

While there are great places to eat including diners when you’re in Springfield, you’ll also want to set aside some time for Chubby’s Bar & Grill in Atlanta, IL, which has been a local favorite for decades and is now under new ownership. And if you’re in the mood to view some more statues, you can check out the Paul Bunyan statue in Atlanta, IL, as well. Instead of Bunyan’s trademark axe as a lumberjack, this giant fiberglass version is holding a giant hot dog as it was once a way to attract attention to a restaurant.

Another place in the north west corner of Illinois you will probably want to check out while in Illinois is Galena, which is inviting for those who want to take a stroll along a historic-feeling main street. In fact, because of its historical charm, the majority of the town is in a preserved historical district, explains Lorena Petani. For its part, Galena served as one of the filming locations for Field of Dreams (1989).

Get Around By Highway or Back Roads

The Midwest has more than its fair share of small and charming towns to explore and visit, whether you take the main route or not.

Historic U.S. Route 66 snakes its way through Illinois, becoming both a popular backdrop for films as well as a way to get tourists to key destinations across the state and beyond. On its 301-mile segment from Chicago to St. Louis, it crosses through Springfield, IL, as well as Odell, home of Standard Oil Gas Station that is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to check out each destination as you make your way across the Midwest and take in the unique charm of each stop, advises Lorena Petani.



Lorena Petani

Lorena Petani is an expert site finder who works in the filming industry.