The Best Day Trips From Chicago
It’s Summertime! Don’t have an entire week to devote to a break but still want to decompress? Here are five day trip ideas that will awaken your soul and enhance your well-being. Hours/availability may vary. To read the entire list of all 25 spots, click HERE.
Milwaukee, WI (1 hr 35 min): Thanks to the well-known 1960s Schlitz beer jingle, pop culture fans are aware that it’s the “beer that made Milwaukee famous.” Today, Milwaukee’s German brewing heritage is alive and well. Visitors will find numerous microbreweries, historical brewery tours, and brewpubs, along with farm-to-table eateries serving local craft beers. Milwaukee’s other cultural icon, Harley-Davidson, offers museum tours that showcase motorcycle artifacts like the oldest-known Harley in the world. Also nicknamed the “City of Festivals,” Milwaukee is home to over two dozen celebrations, including Summerfest, the world’s biggest music fest. Seventy-five golf courses, 25 theaters, and 150 parks round out this day-trip getaway.
Lake Geneva, WI (1 hr 40 min): Chicagoans may wonder why they should leave Lake Michigan for Lake Geneva, but the two experiences are worlds apart. Lake Geneva is a Wisconsin resort city on the shores of a small lake by the same name. It’s where wealthy Chicagoans came to build their mansions during the Gilded Age. Visitors can walk or bike the 21-mile shoreline along the Lake Geneva Shore Path for an up-close view or see them from the water with the Lake Geneva Cruise Line. This year-round getaway offers an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, nightlife, outdoor activities, and points of interest.
North Utica, IL (1 hr 45 min): North Utica is a sleepy river town along the Illinois-Michigan canal and nearby Illinois River that will appeal to antique, wine, and nature lovers. Visitors will find wineries and wine shops, antique stores, flea markets, rustic furniture, and collectibles shops, and a pottery studio. You can learn about the town’s history at the LaSalle County Historical Museum and dine at popular eateries like Cajun Connection and Canal Port Bar & Grill. Grand Bear Resort has inexpensive day passes to its 24,000-foot indoor waterpark, as well as a restaurant, sports bar, and sweet shop. Four nearby state parks provide outdoor recreational opportunities.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (1 hr): Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore provides visitors with a 15-mile stretch of beach along Lake Michigan’s southern shore that’s perfect for a beach day getaway. Fifty miles of diverse trails weave along the lakeshore where visitors can hike, bike, ride on horseback, snowshoe, cross-country ski, or bird watch. Besides beaches, highlights include interpretive programs, ranger-led walking tours, the children’s outdoor Nature Play Zone at the Paul H. Douglas Center, four historical buildings from a 19th-century homestead, and a 3500-square-foot modern pavilion. Every day trip should include a hike up West Beach’s Succession Trail for an epic view of the Chicago skyline.
Starved Rock State Park (1 hr 35 min): Just under 100 miles from the bustling city of Chicago is the number one attraction in Illinois, Starved Rock State Park. The towering bluffs in this park give visitors an unexpected variation from the flatlands for which this state is famed. Featuring more than 15 canyons offering breathtaking views of sandstone bluffs, the Illinois River, and large lush trees, this park attracts millions of visitors each year. Stunning hiking trails feature plants, wildflowers, waterfalls, wildlife, birds, and more. In addition, there is a nearly endless list of outdoor activities, including horseback riding, kayaking, rafting, and water cruises, to name a few.