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Melanie Holmes’ ‘100 Things to Do in Illinois Before You Die’ is a Must Read

Melanie Holmes’ ‘100 Things to Do in Illinois Before You Die’ is a Must Read

Illinois native Melanie Holmes felt just like the rest of us during the COVID-19 pandemic: bored and restless at home. Rather than waste away another weekend on the couch, she and her husband came up with a solution. Following the state’s pandemic laws, they hit the road and found hidden gems across Illinois.

“There’s so much out there to encounter,” Holmes told Just N Life. “Back roads oftentimes lead you to the most amazing things.”

Cover of 100 Things to Do in Illinois Before You Die

In 100 Things to Do in Illinois Before You Die, Holmes shares her tips about traveling through her home state. With each travel location separated by category, readers can find destinations for Food and Drink; Music and Entertainment; Sports and Recreation; Culture and History; and Shopping and Fashion.

Though Illinois is home to the large and well-known Windy City, Holmes does not limit her list to Chicago’s city streets. Southern Illinois has plenty of travel treasures that Holmes features in her book. If you’re an Illinois local, you might find something of interest in your own backyard. Holmes believes that no matter where you travel in Illinois, “you can definitely find things to keep you busy for a whole week.”

If you need to find a quick trip you know you’ll love, Holmes ends her book with suggested itineraries for “Sports Fans” and “History Buffs” and the like. She even organizes her activities by season.

Great for travelers in-state and around the country, Holmes suggests the best way to visit classic state hotspots, like Woodstock, Chicago’s museum campus, and the best place for popular deep-dish pizza (Lou Malnati’s, obviously). But natives will be interested in finding the nearest stop on the Underground Railroad to their house or learning about Triple Dipple’s 90 flavors of cheesecake in Chillicothe.

“It’s meant to invigorate and excite. It plants seeds,” Holmes said about her book. “As you’re getting enlightened, you’re excited, like you do really want to know more about this.”

Holmes does more than just tell you about the spot: her writing divulges the rich history of the Land of Lincoln. Even if you never set foot in one of these stops, Holmes’s book is a Spark Notes version of an Illinois history textbook.

“Anything that we write about, there’s a history to it,” Holmes said. “If we’re going to write well about something, we’ve absolutely got to research it.”

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Holmes’s pitch for the book was selected for a state-wide initiative to include Illinois in the 100 Things to Do Before You Die series. 100 Things to Do in Illinois Before You Die is her fifth to be published, with Holmes’s first four books covering history, diversity, art, and family.

When Holmes was selected to write 100 Things to Do in Illinois Before You Die, she said to herself, “If I’m going to be that person to do this for my fellow Illinoisans, I want to make sure that I’m trying to do as good a job as possible and uplifting as many people as possible.”

Along with each location, Holmes adds her own tips and tricks for having the best experience at popular destinations and lesser-known attractions. Some items even have suggested bonus content if you want to get the most bang for your buck in the area.

Holmes will have a book signing at El Paso Public Library in El Paso, Illinois on July 23 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. On July 27, she will be in Fox Lake, Illinois for a presentation and book signing at Fox Lake District Library from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. These events are free and open to the public.

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