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Best Day Trips from Chicago
Pack a bag and discover day trip locations a short drive past the city limits.
The constant hustle and bustle of downtown might leave you wishing for a quick getaway. As you move away from the city, you can explore the possibilities close to home with these day trips from Chicago. Here’s a guide to your new favorite getaway spots.
Beyond the cityscape, there are many natural areas for hiking. Oglesby is a peaceful town set in the Illinois Valley. Here, you can go fishing, kayaking, or river rafting. In Oglesby, you can also explore Matthiessen State Park and Starved Rock State Park, both of which promise a day free of screens and the noise of the city.
White River State Park, Indiana
A three-hour drive from the downtown core of Chicago is White River State Park, an award-winning concert venue. This urban park also features a historic canal system, combining the very best of 18th-century architecture with excellent views of Indianapolis. While visiting the area, you can take the family on an adventure at the Indianapolis Zoo.
For sports fans, the NCAA Hall of Champions is a must-see. You can walk through basketball history, taking in memorabilia from your favorite players and teams. Art lovers, meanwhile, can soak up a bit of history and culture at the Indiana State Museum.
Huron-Manistee National Forests, Michigan
Nearly a million acres of national forest dot the landscape across lower Michigan. Just a four-hour drive from Chicago, Huron-Manistee National Forests offer world-class hiking at the North Country National Scenic Trail, as well as nearby trout fishing opportunities at the Au Sable National Scenic River.
Whether you’re seeking out adventure in the forest, or just a calm fishing trip with friends, Huron-Manistee National Forests is a picturesque spot for a day trip, and the perfect place to recharge your batteries before returning to the city.
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Illinois
Frank Lloyd Wright designed over 1,000 buildings across the country, and he’s revered as one of the great American architects. Whether you have a young budding architect in your family or have a keen interest in building design and architecture, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio is an exciting day trip spot. At this national historic landmark, Frank Lloyd Wright developed his architectural philosophy and honed his famed prairie-style design approach. As a guest, you can learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright through educational workshops.
During the spring and summer season, the ideal day trip for couples is a fruit picking journey to Fennville. A two-hour drive from Chicago, Fennville offers an excellent spot for picking cherries, peaches, and other delicious fruits. Outside of the Fennville orchard, you’ll also find many family restaurants and bakeries selling home-crafted bread and pies to bring back with you. Make sure you check the local, seasonal dates and weather forecast to ensure the weather cooperates with your romantic Fennville adventure.
South Bend, Indiana
Take a trip to visit the University of Notre Dame football stadium in South Bend, Indiana. The venue hosts live football games throughout the season and brings tens of thousands of students, alumni, and fans to the area each weekend.
Beyond being the home of Notre Dame football, South Bend offers some of the country’s best libraries and museums, such as the South Bend Museum of Art. SBMA features both contemporary and historical art exhibits, as well as studio sessions for aspiring artists.
Just a 40-minute drive outside of Chicago, Naperville, Illinois is the best option for those seeking a quiet day in a small town.
In the area, you can explore the city’s famous Riverwalk, offering unparalleled waterfront views. There’s also a number of picture-perfect photo opportunities at the 150-foot bell-tower dominating the Naperville skyline. You can plan your Naperville trip on short notice—simply pack a small bag and get the family ready to enjoy some fresh air and stunning scenery.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
With year-round waterside activities, Lake Geneva in Wisconsin is the ideal getaway for busy Chicagoans. The lake resort features a 21-mile shoreline with natural greenspace and many activities for families. In winter, you’ll find Lake Geneva is home to world-class ski resorts. During the summertime, discover the zipline and rope courses across the local forests. Big Foot Beach State Park is a short drive away, offering sun and sand for those warm and breezy summer days. Who knew a beautiful beach vacation was so close to Chicago?
Those looking to explore the rich history of the local region might consider a quick trip to Holland, Michigan. The Holland-themed city is just two hours from Chicago by car, and offers visitors a number of Dutch-inspired activities, stores, and neighborhoods. The town also features a 250-year-old Dutch windmill, which represents the esteemed history of the area. Bring the kids to explore the many local cafés and restaurants steeped in local Dutch-American history.
Michigan City, Indiana
Just an hour’s drive from Chicago is Michigan City, Indiana, where you can spend your entire day trip from Chicago crossing the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Marked by beautiful beach dunes and historic lighthouses, the area offers visitors a whimsical escape from the city. Boasting some of the finest microbreweries in the region, Michigan City is the perfect place for a group day trip, while savvy shoppers can hunt for a bargain in its quaint shops.
It’s your opportunity to explore the world right outside your home city! Take the time now to plan a day trip from Chicago to any one of these destinations for your upcoming adventure.
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