Illinois, known as the "Prairie State," is home to a diverse range of cities that offer unique experiences and opportunities. In this article, we will take a closer look at the top 8 largest places to live in Illinois.

From cultural diversity to outdoor recreation, each city has its own distinct charm and attractions. Join us on this journey as we explore these vibrant cities and discover what makes them special.

Top 8 Largest Places to Live in Illinois

  • Chicago
  • Aurora
  • Joliet
  • Naperville
  • Rockford
  • Springfield
  • Peoria
  • Elgin


Largest Places to Live in Illinois

With a population of over 2,608,425 million people, Chicago is not only the largest city in Illinois but also one of the most populous cities in the United States. Known as the "Windy City," Chicago is famous for its stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and delicious deep-dish pizza.

Explore the iconic Millennium Park, take a stroll along the Magnificent Mile, or catch a game at Wrigley Field. Chicago offers an endless array of museums, theaters, and world-class dining options.


Located just outside of Chicago, Aurora is the second-largest city in Illinois with a population of around 177,108 residents. This thriving city is known for its diverse community, excellent schools, and vibrant arts scene.

Visit the acclaimed Paramount Theatre, which hosts Broadway shows and live performances, or spend a day exploring the beautiful RiverEdge Park. Aurora also offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking trails and golf courses.


Located southwest of Chicago, Joliet is the fourth-largest city in Illinois, with a population of around 150,718 residents. This historic city is known for its vibrant downtown area, which features beautiful architecture, quaint shops, and delicious dining options.

Explore the Joliet Area Historical Museum, which showcases the city's rich history, or catch a show at the Rialto Square Theatre, a stunning venue known as the "Jewel of Joliet." Joliet also offers outdoor enthusiasts access to the scenic Des Plaines River and numerous parks and trails.


Situated west of Chicago, Naperville is the fifth-largest city in Illinois, with a population of approximately 148,754 people. Known for its high-quality schools, safe neighborhoods, and strong sense of community, Naperville consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the United States.

Explore the charming downtown area, which is filled with boutique shops, cozy cafes, and art galleries. Naperville also offers beautiful parks, including the Naperville Riverwalk, a picturesque trail along the DuPage River, perfect for walking, biking, and enjoying nature.


Largest Places to Live in Illinois

Situated along the Rock River, Rockford is the third-largest city in Illinois, with a population of approximately 145,716 people. Known as the "Forest City," Rockford boasts stunning natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage.

Explore the Anderson Japanese Gardens, a tranquil oasis of flowing water, trees, and flowers, or visit the Burpee Museum of Natural History, which features fascinating exhibits on dinosaurs and fossils. Rockford also hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, including the popular Rockford City Market.


As the capital of Illinois, Springfield is a historic city with a population of around 111,711 residents. Known for its association with Abraham Lincoln, Springfield offers a wealth of historical attractions, including the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Take a tour of the Illinois State Capitol or explore the beautiful Washington Park Botanical Garden. Springfield also hosts the Illinois State Fair, a popular event featuring live music, carnival rides, and delicious fair food.


Located along the Illinois River, Peoria is the seventh-largest city in Illinois, with a population of approximately 109,447 people. This vibrant city is known for its rich cultural scene, thriving arts community, and stunning riverfront.

Visit the Peoria Riverfront Museum, which features art, science, and history exhibits, or catch a performance at the Peoria Civic Center. Peoria also offers outdoor enthusiasts access to the Rock Island Trail, a scenic pathway for walking, biking, and jogging, as well as beautiful parks and golf courses.


Largest Places to Live in Illinois

Situated northwest of Chicago, Elgin is the eighth-largest city in Illinois, with a population of around 112,504 residents. Known for its charming downtown area and historic architecture, Elgin offers a mix of small-town charm and urban amenities.

Explore the Elgin Public Museum, which showcases natural history exhibits, or visit the Elgin Symphony Orchestra for a night of beautiful music. Elgin also boasts several parks and nature preserves, including the Lords Park Zoo, where you can observe a variety of animals up close.