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Best Day Trips From Chicago

Best Family Day Trip From Chicago: Rockford

Starved Rock State Park | Best Day Trip from Chicago, Illinois

Rockford is one of the top choices for family day trips. Located just 100 miles away, this neighborhood is home to the Discovery Center Museum. This center offers more than 300 exhibits ranging from electricity to flights to art. Next, if you seek some family fun, then Volcano Falls features go-karts, laser tag, and even miniature golf to fulfill every kids dream. After kart racing and maybe even NASCAR-sanctioned trucks in Rockford Speedway , you can eat some Italian pizza at Linos or Francescos Restaurant.

To get your nature fix and some physical activity, go to the Anderson Japanese Gardens which is a must in the cherry-blossom season in April. Filled with beautiful flowers, towering trees, and two picturesque koi ponds accessible by lovely pathways, the Anderson Japanese Gardens can definitely offer you the serene ending of your trip.

Tour The Lakeside Hamlets Of Harbor Country

Travel time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Harbor Country comprises several lakeside hamlets just over the Michigan border, where Chicagoans retreat for a taste of small-town life. New Buffalo is the most resort-y of the bunch, where you can catch a wave at the public beach and follow it up with suds at the Beer Church.

Three Oaks is the bohemian farm-and-arts village, where you can pick up animal feed by the town squares gazebo and then walk over to browse Elm Streets galleries and design shops. Antique stores and folksy delis abound in Union Pier, Lakeside, Harbert and Sawyer. Several wineries, such as Tabor Hill, surround the communities and offer tastings.

How to get to Harbor Country from Chicago: Harbor Country is a 90-minute drive east from downtown Chicago via I-90 and I-94. While Amtrak stops in New Buffalo, the times arent convenient for day trips, and youll need your own wheels to access the other towns.

What City Is 3 Hours Away From Chicago

Holland, Kalamazoo, South Bend, Lafayette, Janesville, Milwaukee, and Springfield are good options for a one day trip from Chicago, as they are under 3 hours by train, bus, or car ride.

Now that you have discovered the top day trips from Chicago, its time to plan your stay. Find the best hotels and vacation rentals on CuddlyNest to stay at while you explore Illinois most adventurous sights.

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Traveling Around The Midwest With A Group

Deciding where youll go is only the first step in your journey. Youll also need to figure out how to get your group to, from, and around your destination. Small groups can easily pack everyone into a car or even build a caravan if needed. But if youre traveling with a large group, youll need a more spacious way to get around. Thats where GOGO Charters comes in with a Chicago charter bus rental.

Book a charter bus rental in Chicago and keep anyone from having to sacrifice the mileage on their personal vehicles or feeling uncomfortable while stuck in a small car. A motorcoach rental will give your group plenty of space to relax on the road while a professional driver gets you where you need to be! Call 546-3925 to get a quote on a minibus or charter bus outfitted with WiFi, TVs with DVD players, and reclining seats for a smooth and easy ride to these nearby cities:

Day Trips From Chicago: Cantigny Park

Road Trip Season: The Best Day Trips from Chicago

Cantigny Park was gifted to Wheaton, Illinois, by philanthropist Colonel Robert R. McCormick and was officially opened to the public in 1958. This recreational and educational space provides visitors with a multitude of leisure opportunities. The park includes two museums, one dedicated to the legacy of Colonel McCormick and the other a tribute to military history.

It also displays acres of formal gardens and a statuary and has three miles of trails and a picnic area. There is a visitors center, an education center, and a 27-hole golf course with a youth golf academy and full-service clubhouse. Visitors will appreciate the onsite restaurants, walking tours, and seasonal kids activities.

1s151 Winfield Road, Wheaton, IL, Phone: 630-668-5161

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Art Institute Of Chicago

There are actually so many great museums in Chicago, so if you cannot make them all dont be bummed. It is just another reason to come visit again. If you only have an hour or two the Art Institute of Chicago is in the center of Downtown and right in Millenium Park. Very convenient, the Art Institute of Chicago makes it easy for you to hit up pieces of art you cannot miss in under an hour. I personally loved the iconic American Gothic, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Seurat, and Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.

Moraine Hills State Park

Distance from Chicago: 50.4 milesDriving Time: 57 minutes

Located in northeast Illinois, full of lakes and wetlands, Moraine Hills welcomes everyone whos into hiking, biking, fishing, and birding. Visiting this park is free of charge.

There are more than 10 miles of trails available to hikers and bikers. Those routes go through wetlands, forests, and uplands.

For those who want to try out some fishing, Lake Defiance, Fox River, and especially McHenry Dam are popular spots for that.

The waters have a great variety of fish. Here, you have the choice to either fish from the shoreline or rent a boat.

Alternatively, you can bring your own kayak or canoe to explore the wetlands of the park. Also, during the summer in June, there are programs for kids, mostly related to fishing.

Overall, the area is around 2,500 acres with rich wildlife yet a tranquil atmosphere. Definitely a good choice to relax in nature and get away from the city!

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Best Summer Day Trips From Chicago

After a year at home, it’s time to hit the open road! While getting out of town for a week can sometimes be impossible, just a day away can refresh and recharge. Weve gathered up 20 summer day trips from Chicago that have kids in the car for a couple of hours and still offer up a change of scene and plenty of fun. From beaches to hikes to slides, we’ve rounded up some fun-filled day trips away from the city for the whole family to enjoy.

For more local trip ideas check out our Midwest Travel Guide or our list of the Best Lakeside Resorts for Families.

Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports

Chicago Day Trip: Morton Arboretum

For people who might be interested in skiing near Chicago, the Four Lakes Alpine is located in Illinois. It is just over half an hours drive away from the city.

Although its a smaller complex compared to many others that are a bit farther from Chicago, it offers different trails that will keep you occupied for the day. To make it one of your best winter day trips from the Chicago area, you can take a skiing lesson or rent gear if youre already a pro.

Another similar area for skiing near Chicago is the Villa Olivia. It is 45 minutes away and also has a chairlift.

You can make a romantic day trip with your partner even better by spending the night at the .

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Best Day Trips From Chicago By Train

The third most populous city in the entire United States, Chicago is the biggest city in Illinois and home to close to 10 million people in its full metropolitan area. It’s a vibrant city with a lot to offer, especially in terms of entertainment. There are many bars, comedy clubs, live music venues, and more to be found around Chicago, so it’s no surprise that millions of people choose to visit the Windy City each and every year.

Chicago is also nicely placed for a number of day trips, being connected to some beautiful locations by train. So if you’re living in Chicago or visiting the city and looking to spend a day somewhere different, here are some of the best day trips you can take from Chicago by train.

We recommend that you call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.

Kettle Moraine State Park In Eagle Wi

Tens of thousands of years ago, glaciers worked hard to create the crags, pot-shaped depressions, and other remarkable features of Kettle Moraine State Park, that are today happily available for your hiking, swimming, and boating pleasure. Kettle Moraine South is the section of the park thats closest to Chicago, and its home to 22,000 acres of forest-filled glacial hills and flower-dotted prairies. In the mood for some fishing? If youre lucky, youll snag a walleye for supper in one of Souths four lakes.

Want to make a weekend out of it? Bring your tent and take your pick of one of three family camping areas within the park.

Know before you go: Due to pandemic prevention measures, daily passes arent currently available for Wisconsin state parks. But if you spring for an annual pass , youll be rewarded with entry to all of the states parks for an entire year for just $38.

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Road Trips From Chicago: Old State Capitol State Historic Site

The Greek Revival-style Old State Capitol, completely reconstructed in Springfield, Illinois, is dedicated to the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Its where he delivered his famous House Divided speech, and where, following his assassination, he lay in state on May 3rd and 4th in 1865.

Visitors can watch a 15-minute video in the audio-visual theater describing the history of the Old Capitol prior to touring it on either a self-paced tour or a 30-minute docent-led tour. Special events at the Old Capitol include the Abraham Lincoln Symposium, Holocaust Remembrance Day, an Annual Civil War Encampment, and the Old Capitol Art Fair.

Old State Capitol Plaza, 6th and Adams Streets, Springfield, IL, Phone: 217-785-7960

What Travelers Are Saying

The Most Beautiful Photos of Chicago From 2016
  • Felt Like FamilyJust spent the day with Tom and the group and it was a fantastic time! He is a wonderful tour guide with knowledge of about anything you can think of. It felt less like a tour and more like walking around with family. Highly recommended!Read moreReview of: Train & Walking Tour: Chicago Loop – Home of the Modern SkyscraperWritten November 11, 2022This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • We did L tour and Old Post office. Both were outstanding and very informative. The docents are so well trained. We recently moved from the area but made a trip to the city to do several toursRead more

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Madison Wisconsin Is One Of The Cool Day Trips From Chicago

In just over two hours you can find yourself in Madison Wisconsin.

If youre looking for a fun Chicago day trip in the summer, Madison is perfect for you.

With five lakes, spanning over 15,000 acres, in summertime there are so many things to do in Madison.

There are water sports, festivals, water front dining, and so much more.

But Madison isnt just a fun place to visit in the summer.

Youre sure to find fun no matter what time of year you go.

There are dinner theaters, breweries, delicious restaurants, and unique boutiques. Put treating yourself at some of the restaurants in Madison on your list!

Youll find that Madison Wisconsin is one of the most entertaining day trips from Chicago that is definitely worth the effort.

Kohler And Sheboygan Wisconsin

In addition to swimming or boating in Lake Michigan, kids may enjoy two special gardens in the areas of Kohler and Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The sweet Bookworm Garden in Sheboygan features 70 different gardens with themes from classic childrens books. Tellen Woodland Sculpture Garden hosts statues of 30 historic religious and mythic figures. Kids may also be able to celebrate bathroom design with Kohlers museum and factory tour .

Bike through Kettle Moraine State Forest. Photo courtesy of the state

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Best Adventure Weekend Trip From Chicago: Niagara Falls

If nature is your calling, then Niagara Falls is the way to go! Although it is rather a 3 day or weekend trip from Chicago, everyone must visit Niagara Falls at least once in their lifetime. You can get to Niagara Falls by train via Buffalo, or by bus via Hamilton, or renting a car and driving for 9 hours. On the go, stop in Kalamazoo and Flint, as well as drive through London to arrive at Niagara Falls at night. You can also split the road trip in two days.

Arrive at Niagara Falls, sport a poncho and hop on a boat tour to get closer to the misty water! Boats shuttle visitors to the base of the falls and have since the 1840s. You can also save time to visit the 17th century Old Fort Niagara on the U.S. side of the falls. The forts have stood the time, and have changed hands between the French, British and American troops.

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Getaway Barber Creek Grand Junction Michigan

Plan Your Day Trip to Chicago (Must-Do Attractions, Sightseeing, Restaurants, Travel tips)

Distance from Chicago: 133 miles, 2.5-hour driveEver wanted to say, Screw it all, get rid of all your earthly belongings, and hole up in a hygge-ified tiny house in the middle of nowhere? Live out all your reclusive fantasies without actually tossing your stuff by booking a weekend in Grand Junction, a pastoral sliver of western Michigan about 15 minutes outside the lakefront hamlet of South Haven. Thats where youll find Getaway Barber Creek, a 79-acre dog-friendly glamp-ground outfitted with a handful of secluded cabins complete with parking spots, picnic tables, Adirondack chairs, and fire pits for all your marshmallow-melting needs. Each matte black hideaway is as practically appointed as it is aesthetically pleasing, stocked with a plush, super comfy bed, gorgeous floor-to-ceiling window, compact table, kitchenette with running water, and full bathroom with, yes, a real-deal shower.Outside the confines of your oasis lies plenty of outdoorsy and less-outdoorsy activities, from hiking the converted railroad Kal-Haven Trail or sand-strewn Van Buren Park Dunes Trail to checking out the historic South Haven South Pierhead Light or stuffing yourself silly at area farm-to-table eateries and top notch breweries. Whatever you choose, embrace your new lifestylehowever temporaryby stashing your phone in the lockbox provided, cozying up with a good bottle of whiskey , and reveling in the simplicity of it all.

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Best Cultural Day Trip From Chicago: Milwaukee

Milwaukee is only an hour-and-half train ride away , but you can also hop on the bus and arrive in Milwaukee in 2 hours. The city is the ultimate destination for those who enjoy great shops, cafes, and restaurant culture. After strolling along Milwaukee RiverWalk, stop in one of many great restaurants we recommend going to have some pancakes and mimosas at SweetDiner, or seek refuge in Milwaukee Public Market to have a seafood snack at St. Paul Fish Company.

If you like arts and culture, Milwaukee RiverWalk also hosts numerous pieces in their outdoor gallery, but for those seeking to learn about the history of the city, explanatory colorful signs are placed along the RiverWalk.

If you take kids with you, definitely visit Milwaukee County Zoo and Discovery World, and go for sweet treats, like hand-dipped chocolate, to Kehrs Candies. Want a sweet treat for yourself as well? The Thief Wine Shop and Bar will introduce you to old-world wine traditions. You can also taste the most amazing cheese curds in the Lakefront Brewery.

Blaum Bros Distilling Co

The Blaum Bros. Distilling Co was created by two rivalrous brothers who bonded over their shared affinity for whiskey. That discovery led them to the art of distilling. At Blaum Bros. Distillery in Galena, Illinois, visitors dive into the fascinating world of distilling fine spirits.

Guests are guided on a sensory journey through the distilling process, where theyll see, taste, touch, and smell the various ingredients that create the brothers handcrafted spirits. At the end of the tour, guests may take a few moments to relax and indulge in bourbon, gin, vodka, and moonshine from the cozy tasting room and cocktail bar.

9380 W US Highway 20, Galena, IL, Phone: 815-777-1000

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Shawnee National Forest Illinois

Distance from Chicago: 351 miles southwest, 5.5-hour driveNo one is going to mistake Illinois for a natural wonderland, but the Land of Lincoln has one ace up its sleeve: Shawnee National Forest, a brilliant expanse of approximately 280,000 acres that covers a large portion of the southern tip of Illinois. In other words, its the perfect spot to take a much-deserved break from the endless crush of bad news for a few days. Bask in the solitude of the national forests epic Garden of the Gods Wilderness before making a peaceful meander through the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail: a 35-mile scenic drive featuring 11 award-winning wineries dotted throughout rural countryside towns like Cobden, Alto Pass, and Pomona. All the wineries are currently open for indoor and outdoor seating, so bring your vax cards, and enjoy this nearly Rhode Island-sized national forest.

Urban Kayaks For The Adventurous Chicago Itinerary

Road Trip Season: The Best Day Trips from Chicago

Want to experience a little thrill while heading down the Chicago River? Add this to your Chicago Itinerary if you are an adventure seeker. A trip with Urban Kayaks through the Chicago River is an adventure and a great way to learn an entertaining history of the development of the River Walk, the history of the Chicago River, and learn about one of the most architecturally beautiful cities in the USA. It was fun trying to dodge the larger river cruises and getting to be very close to the Chicago River. Come during St. Patricks Day to see the river turn green!

One interesting fact about the river was how it was engineered to be reversed! It actually was reversed to flow against its original current towards St. Louis, Missouri. I was shocked to learn about this, but it is interesting to learn after my visit to St. Louis.

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