I'm sure that like most people, when you think of the state of Illinois, you're not thinking about cornfields or sports teams, or the fact that we're the pumpkin supplier to the world. You're thinking about our fabulous beaches and how they've become synonymous with our very name, right?

Yeah, me either. The first Illinois "beach" I ever visited was at a pond dug out of a cornfield. The "sand" at that beach was basically semi-crushed gravel that you had to share with barn cats who thought it was a great big litter box. Maybe it wasn't quite as nice as I've just described it.

So, where would Illinois hide a "top-25 in the country" beach? Here are a couple of clues:

Getty Images
Getty Images
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Getty Images
Getty Images
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Travel And Leisure Has Named Chicago's Oak Street Beach As One Of America's 25 Best

Here are the things that impressed TravelAndLeisure.com about Oak Street Beach:

The impressive Chicago skyline serves as the backdrop for this popular beach, located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Lounge chairs, umbrellas, and cabanas are available for rent, and there's a variety of food from local vendors. Bikers, joggers, walkers, and rollerbladers abound on the paved path surrounding the beach. Relax in the sun, people-watch, or get in on a volleyball game or chess match — the choice is yours.

As some of the following photos will show, people have been enjoying Oak Street Beach for over 100 years:

Oak Street Beach, 1916, Getty Images
Oak Street Beach, 1916, Getty Images
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Oak Street Beach, 1928, Getty Images
Oak Street Beach, 1928, Getty Images
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Oak Street Beach, 1929, Getty Images
Oak Street Beach, 1929, Getty Images
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Oak Street Beach, 1928, Getty Images
Oak Street Beach, 1928, Getty Images
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If you're wanting to put together a bucket list of the best 25 beaches in the United States, here's the full list from TravelAndLeisure.com:

  • Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii
  • Ocean City, Maryland
  • Coronado Beach, San Diego, California
  • Pope Beach, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
  • Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, Florida
  • Harris Beach, Oregon
  • Glass Beach, Port Townsend, Washington
  • Oak Street Beach, Chicago, Illinois
  • Carlsmith Beach, Hilo, Hawaii
  • Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
  • Grand Haven State Park, Michigan
  • Santa Monica Beach, California
  • Medano Creek, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
  • North Beach, Tybee Island, Georgia
  • Good Harbor Beach, Cloucester, Massachusetts
  • Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York
  • Crystal Lake State Park, Barton, Vermont
  • Gulf Shores Public Beach, Alabama
  • Park Point Beach, Duluth, Minnesota
  • Asbury Park Beach, New Jersey
  • Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
  • Coligny Beach Park, Hilton Head, South Carolina
  • Alki Beach, Seattle, Washington
  • Ocean Beach Park, New London, Connecticut
  • Coney Island Beach, Brooklyn, New York

Marvelous Lake VIlla Mansion for $100 Per Person

LOOK: Here are the 25 best places to live in Illinois

Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in Illinois using data from Niche. Niche ranks places to live based on a variety of factors including cost of living, schools, health care, recreation, and weather. Cities, suburbs, and towns were included. Listings and images are from realtor.com.

On the list, there's a robust mix of offerings from great schools and nightlife to high walkability and public parks. Some areas have enjoyed rapid growth thanks to new businesses moving to the area, while others offer glimpses into area history with well-preserved architecture and museums. Keep reading to see if your hometown made the list.