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This region shares a border with Illinois to the north. Its border with Illinois to the west is the Mississippi River. The southeast part borders with Illinois. The historic Lincoln Highway traverses the width of Northern Illinois, starting from Lynwood in the east to Fulton in the west. A portion of the circular Grand Illinois Trail also passes through this area.

Steeped in history, there are many museums, historic sites and monuments to visit here, as well as numerous natural attractions. South of Utica, the Matthiesen State Park consists of bluffs composed of 425-million-year-old St. Peter sandstone, canyons formed by water erosion, and the streaming Cascade Falls. The 1,600-acre park also is home to more than 200 species of birds and myriad woodland flowers.

Rockford, Illinois' second-largest metropolis, is dubbed the "Forest City;" it boasts more than 10,000 acres for classic recreational pursuits. In addition, numerous golf courses, museums and antique shops lie within city limits.

The Kankakee County Historical Society houses the rich French and Native American heritage of the Kankakee River through an extensive collection of furniture, vintage firearms and Civil War documents. The museum also has the largest exhibit of plaster studies by world-famous sculptor and Kankakee, George Grey Barnard.

In Grand Detour, the John Deere Historic Site was established to honor the man who spurred the progress of agriculture by forging the first effective steel plow. Deere's home, the original blacksmith shop and an archaeological site are here.

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