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21 Best Day Trips From Chicago In 2024

21 Best Day Trips From Chicago In 2024


Welcome to the Windy City! Whether an area or a traveler wanting to discover past the skyline, our information to the very best day journeys from Chicago is your ticket to journey. We’ll present you tips on how to swap metropolis streets for scenic escapes, all inside a day’s attain of Chicago. From charming small cities to pure wonders, prepare to find the Midwest’s most unforgettable experiences. Pack your sense of journey, and let’s hit the highway – Chicago-style day journeys await!

Table of Contents

Incredible Day Trips from Chicago1. Milwaukee, WI2. South Bend, IN3. Madison, WI4. Starved Rock State Park, IL5. Cedarburg, WI6. Illinois Beach State Park, IL7. Lake Geneva, WI8. Rockford, IL9. Indiana Dunes National Park, IN10. Lakeshore State Park, WI11. Monroe, WI12. St. Joseph, MI13. Channahon State Park, IL14. Oak Park, IL15. Grand Rapids, MI16. Windmill Island Gardens, MI17. Galena, IL18. Michigan City, IN19. Peoria, IL20. Six Flags Great America, IL21. Glacial Park Conservation Area

Incredible Day Trips from Chicago

In this information, we provide you with concepts for the highest day journeys from the third most populous metropolis within the US. Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, many locations will tempt you away from the town heart. After exploring all the superior issues to do in Chicago, from the Chicago River to historic landmarks, head to those improbable locations situated inside simple attain of the town.

The metropolis is ideally situated with simple border-crossing into Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. It can also be an awesome start line for a day journey additional south into central Illinois. You have 4 states at your fingertips – so it is best to carve out time for a day journey whereas visiting.

1. Milwaukee, WI

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Milwaukee is an enormous deal. This main metropolis is situated on the shores of western Lake Michigan in Wisconsin – only a 1.5 hour practice experience or drive north of Chicago. We’d recommend catching the practice if potential, as Milwaukee is greatest identified for its breweries. Taking guided brewery excursions is likely one of the greatest issues to do in Milwaukee. Aside from its alcohol, although, it’s also residence to the Holler House and Milwaukee Art Museum. Don’t overlook the Harley-Davidson Museum, which hosts a gorgeous show of bikes and paperwork iconic biker tradition. The Milwaukee Public Museum additionally has a large-scale European village.

If you desire a improbable time out from Chicago, Milwaukee is right. It has a robust sense of tradition and plenty of area of interest pockets of curiosity, like Harley-Davidson bikes and breweries. It can also be a breeze to succeed in by practice or automotive.

Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours How to get there: Train, bus or coach

Suggested Tour: A Group Tour to Discover Milwaukee

2. South Bend, IN

Day Trips from Chicago South Bend IL
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South Bend has a unique vibe as a college metropolis on the St. Joseph River. It is improbable if you’re in search of a extra sedate metropolis expertise. You can go to the University of Notre Dame’s iconic campus, with its traditional gold-domed constructing. There’s additionally loads of native historical past which you can expertise within the metropolis heart, like automotive manufacturing from years passed by at Studebaker National Museum and the regional historical past on the History Museum.

South Bend is unquestionably slower-paced than quick-footed Chicago. However, it has plenty of points of interest too. Think of it as a soothing and mental place to spend a day sightseeing. It has plenty of enjoyable and pupil twists, like low cost bars and low spots.

The metropolis is situated simply east of Chicago, on the opposite facet of Indiana Dunes National Park, and on the decrease east shore of Lake Michigan. It is greatest reached by automotive, and we’d advocate stopping off on the nationwide park en route.

Distance from Chicago: 2 to three hours How to get there: Car or practice

3. Madison, WI

Day Trips from Chicago Madison IL
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Small Madison may not appear capital-worthy, however it’s really the capital metropolis of Wisconsin, not the key, sprawling large of Milwaukee. This smaller metropolis has lovely structure galore. You can rise up near the historic domed Wisconsin State Capitol and stroll the Capital City State Trail to sightsee totally different metropolis points of interest. There’s a botanic backyard expertise, too, at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, plus a quirkier downtown space with bars and low retailers. Madison is your most suitable option should you fancy a political sightseeing day journey from Chicago.

Madison can also be superbly situated subsequent to 2 enormous lakes – Lake Mendota and Lake Waubesa. Summer leaves loads of alternatives for water sports activities and sunny waterfront mountain climbing trails. Follow this strolling tour to see the town’s structure together with the State Capitol, Der Rathskaller, Bascomb Hill, and Memorial Union.

Distance from Chicago: 2 to 4 hours How to get there: By automotive or shuttle bus

4. Starved Rock State Park, IL

Day Trips from Chicago Starved Rock State Park IL
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Starved Rock State Park is likely one of the hottest points of interest in Illinois. The park sits on the banks of the Illinois River and holds a set of sandstone canyons amidst lovely forests. The canyons have been initially minimize with glacial meltwater, and you may discover the surroundings utilizing a community of clearly marked wood boardwalks. Starved Rock State Park additionally has tons of waterfalls, which get impressively highly effective in wetter months.

Nature lovers will adore today journey alternative. Not solely is the pure surroundings astounding, however you may as well spot wildlife like white-tailed deer and bald eagles. Starved Rock State Park covers over 2,600 acres and has 13 miles of trails, with 18 canyons to admire. It is situated inland from Chicago and Lake Michigan.

Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours How to get there: Car

5. Cedarburg, WI

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Cedarburg has critical allure. It has old-school-style homes and is incessantly in comparison with a film set. The city was based within the 1840s by a mix of predominantly Irish and German settlers and is now thought of a suburb of Milwaukee. Cedarburg has many cute and aesthetic issues to do, with the bonus of brewery and vineyard excursions. You can stroll the vineyards and tour brewing rooms or head to distinctive points of interest just like the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fine Arts. Cedarburg is an actual gem and beats to its personal drum, making it a memorable day journey from Chicago.

This Wisconsin city is situated simply north of Milwaukee’s metropolis heart. It is greatest reached from Chicago by automotive, and you may at all times incorporate a stop-off in Milwaukee’s metropolis heart – parking within the outskirts and commuting in.

Distance from Chicago: 2 hours How to get there: By automotive

6. Illinois Beach State Park, IL

Day Trips from Chicago Illinois Beach State Park IL
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If you need seashores, Illinois Beach State Park is the place to be on a Chicago day journey. The park covers over 4,000 acres, with a gorgeous shore path and community of mountain climbing trails. It is a perfect place for a seaside day alongside the shores of Lake Michigan. However, Illinois Beach State Park is equally greater than only a seaside vacation spot.

It has campgrounds and playgrounds, plus bathe blocks and a nature heart. Illinois Beach State Park is someplace to spend a whole day. Start with a hike and go to the character heart earlier than heading to Isherwood Beach, and even tenting in a single day in case your schedule permits it.

The park is sort of near Chicago, taking lower than an hour to succeed in by automotive. It’s an awesome day journey when you have a heat day or fancy a seaside journey. Or it’s the excellent journey should you fancy tenting an evening to interrupt up your traditional metropolis break.

Distance from Chicago: 1 hour How to get there: By automotive

7. Lake Geneva, WI

Day Trips from Chicago Lake Geneva WI
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Lake Geneva is a gorgeous resort metropolis alongside the banks of Geneva Lake in Wisconsin, northwest of Chicago. As a small metropolis out of the main public transport strains, it’s best reached by automotive.

Once you arrive, you’re greeted by Gilded Age mansions with dramatic structure and a scenic Shore Path that snakes across the metropolis’s part of Geneva Lake. Historically, Lake Geneva was used as a bolt-hole for prosperous Chicago residents, and searching on the metropolis’s surrounding pure magnificence, it’s simple to see why.

Admire Victorian historical past and Gilded Age structure, and go to the Lake Geneva seashores. Big Foot Beach State Park has sensible seashores, particularly for a lazy afternoon. Lake Geneva is a gorgeous day journey vacation spot to unwind earlier than revisiting Chicago’s chaotic sightseeing scene.

Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours How to get there: By automotive

8. Rockford, IL

Day Trips from Chicago Rockford IL
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Rockford is a serious metropolis situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, giving it the nickname’ River City’. Rockford can also be known as the ‘Forest City’ due to its historical past of tree felling, forests, and furniture-making industries. It is a shapeshifter with a protracted historical past and a distinguished place in Illinois’ society. Nowadays, although, it is a perfect day journey candidate and is stuffed with well-liked points of interest and historic locations. You can cease by the koi-filled ponds at Anderson Japanese Gardens, sit back in quite a few public parks, or head to the Rockford Art Museum. Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens can also be sensible.

Rockford is situated in northern Illinois, proper beneath the Wisconsin border. We’d advocate combining it with a visit to Madison, situated roughly an hour above the town. It is a good stop-off level for these driving to the Wisconsin capital.

Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours How to get there: By automotive

9. Indiana Dunes National Park, IN

Day Trips from Chicago Indiana Dunes National Park IN
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Forget state parks should you like pure magnificence – purpose large with Indiana Dunes National Park. This beautiful park is way over simply sand dunes and covers 15 miles of gorgeous shoreline excellent for swimming and sunbathing. Indiana Dunes National Park can also be a sizzling spot for fowl watching and mountain climbing. The nationwide park is situated on the southern finish of Lake Michigan. It is a gorgeous spot to go to to embrace the lake’s magnificence. An entrance ticket prices round $20, and you may spend the entire day exploring the park.

Indiana Dunes National Park is situated simply southeast of Chicago and is ideally mixed with visits to South Bend or day journeys into Michigan or Indiana.

Distance from Chicago: 50 minutes How to get there: By automotive

10. Lakeshore State Park, WI

Day Trips from Chicago Lakeshore State Park WI
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Everyone loves an city park. This beautiful park sits simply off Milwaukee’s shoreline. Still, we are going to embody it as a standalone attraction because it justifies a go to by itself benefit. Lakeshore State Park is greatest explored on foot by strolling the Hank Aaron State Trail. You can take pleasure in metropolis skyline views and expansive vistas over Lake Michigan. And if you’re in search of a romantic day journey from Chicago, head to Lakeshore State Park at sundown with a picnic.

The state park is clearly properly mixed with a go to to Milwaukee. This little island state park is a gorgeous spot close to the town. It is situated off the Historic Third Ward and accessible by a pedestrianized bridge connecting it to the mainland.

Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours How to get there: By automotive

11. Monroe, WI

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Monroe is fairly cool. The quirky metropolis is named the Swiss cheese capital. It has an unlimited historical past of dairy farming that has given it a large cheese repute. You can go to to take meals excursions – extremely beneficial – and take a look at native merchandise and produce. You ought to go to the National Historic Cheese Making Center Museum and the Chalet Cheese Cooperative. There’s additionally lovely structure and historic locations, just like the Green County Courthouse, accomplished in 1891. The Monroe Historic Square is within the metropolis’s heart, surrounded by retailers and aesthetic surroundings.

Monroe is a tiny metropolis in comparison with a few of Chicago’s neighboring giants. It is roughly situated midway between Madison and Rockford. It is unquestionably greatest accessed by automotive.

Distance from Chicago: 2 hours How to get there: By automotive

12. St. Joseph, MI

Day Trips from Chicago St Joseph MI
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St Joseph is a scenic coastal metropolis in southwest Michigan and a great day journey if you wish to enterprise into MI on a day journey from Chicago. It sits alongside the shore of Lake Michigan with lovely points of interest like Silver Beach County Park and Lions Park Beach. Silver Beach is especially cute to go to, with a 1910 carousel and restored pavilion that convey an exquisite, vintage-style aesthetic to the town. A traditional crimson and white lighthouse is close to the town’s North Pier.

St Joseph is a gorgeous alternative if you need a type of conventional seaside day journeys. It is barely a brief drive from Chicago, even supposing you’ll be venturing by Indiana and crossing the Michigan border. Hooray for Lake Michigan’s shut community of US states. It is improbable to mix with Indiana Dunes National Park and Michigan City.

Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours How to get there: By Car

13. Channahon State Park, IL

Day Trips from Channahon State Park IL
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Channahon State Park is an absolute should. The state park sits on among the most historic Illinois canals, housing a restored lock tender’s home for further historic worth. You can take pleasure in a community of mountain climbing trails with waterfalls, birds, and historic towpaths to snap photographs of. Distance isn’t a difficulty when visiting inland Illinois; Channahon State Park is lower than an hour’s drive from central Chicago. It is a good day journey if you need minimal journey time and an perception into Illinois’ canal historical past.

You can set up guided excursions round Channahon State Park, together with canoe journeys. The state park is a chosen a part of the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor. It is extensively hailed as a necessary a part of the state’s historical past. It is a nature-given journey park.

Distance from Chicago: 50 minutes How to get there: By automotive

14. Oak Park, IL

Day Trips from chicago Oak Park IL
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Oak Park is a gorgeous village within the suburbs of Chicago. It actually packs a punch past fairly structure for such a small space. Visitors can take pleasure in points of interest just like the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, Ernest Hemingway’s Boyhood Home, the National Historic Landmark of Mills Park and the Oak Park River Forest Museum. Oak Park is a quickfire number of museums in a tiny space, accessible from central Chicago utilizing public transport. What’s to not love? It is the proper alternative if you need journeys from Chicago carried out simply.

It is so helpful to leap on a practice and be amongst dozens of museums. Additionally, its Unity Temple was just lately designated as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2019. Despite all its present points of interest and choices, Oak Park may be very a lot up and coming when it comes to customer recognition and worth for tourism.

Distance from Chicago: 15 to twenty minutes How to get there: By practice

Suggested Tour: Private Frank Lloyd Wright Tour from Chicago

15. Grand Rapids, MI

Day Trips from chicago Grand Rapids MI
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Grand Rapids is one other main metropolis – suppose skyscrapers and a gorgeous riverside setting with dramatic bridges. Grand Rapids has loads of tradition, with museums just like the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum and Grand Rapids Public Museum. It additionally has a cool, secure, and walkable downtown district, which incorporates the Grand Rapids Art Museum, an attraction and initiative that spotlights native artists.

We prefer to catch a shuttle to Grand Rapids, because it has an illustrious brewery historical past. In explicit, it’s identified for New Holland Brewing, and you may take guided tasting excursions on the native breweries which are nonetheless working. Otherwise, driving is faster, and you may cease off at spots like Indiana Sand Dunes National Park, St Joseph, and South Bend. You hug the decrease shoreline of Lake Michigan, which is a protracted however very scenic drive. Ideally, rotate drivers and have a number of totally different stops en route.

Distance from Chicago: 3 to five hours How to get there: By automotive in just below 3 hours or by shuttle in beneath 4 Suggested Tour: Grand Rapids Ghost Tour

16. Windmill Island Gardens, MI

Day Trips from chicago Windmill Island Gardens MI
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Chicago is perhaps generally known as ‘Windy City,’ however try Windmill Island Gardens. This seasonal park encompasses a 250-year-old windmill in an ode to the town’s Dutch affect. You can take self-guided excursions of the park, admire the windmill, and meet guides in conventional Dutch costumes. There’s additionally a tulip backyard, which is beautiful in spring.

This is likely one of the main day journeys from Chicago if you need Dutch heritage, and it’s even situated outdoors of a metropolis named Holland. Windmill Island Gardens is situated in Michigan, so that you’ll be driving the south coast of Lake Michigan, slicing by northern Indiana and throughout the Michigan border. When it involves visiting Michigan, distance is usually a concern. Is it a protracted day of driving? Yes. But it’s extremely scenic and a good way to mix a number of points of interest. If you’ve gotten a number of drivers, you gained’t have any hassle as you may simply rotate driving time.

Distance from Chicago: 2.5 hours How to get there: By automotive

17. Galena, IL

Day Trips from chicago Galena IL
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Galena is an absolute gem of an enthralling small city, sitting on the banks of the Galena River with tons of Civil War historical past. The city was residence to the Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant, and his former house is a State Historic Site. Of course, Ulysses S. Grant later grew to become a US president, so his story is immortalized. Galena is a good place to go to if you’re all for politics and historical past. Its city heart is comparatively walkable and is stuffed with tales and scenic Nineteenth-century structure.

Galena is true within the high left nook of Illinois, on the border of Iowa and Wisconsin. It is a wonderful add-on from Rockford or Starved Rock State Park, round 1.5 hours away by automotive.

18. Michigan City, IN

Day Trips from chicago Michigan City IN
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Michigan City is simply an hour away and is sensible, accessible day journey materials. If you need a straightforward journey from Chicago, Michigan City is it. Fancy a drive? You can drive there in an hour, passing Indiana Dunes National Park. Fancy a practice experience? You can learn or nap and attain the town in lower than 2 hours. There’s plenty of lakeside tradition and historical past, with a number of lighthouses to admire and the quaint Washington Park Beach.

There’s additionally interval historical past on the Barker Mansion, which showcases English-inspired decor and furnishings in a Nineteenth-century mansion. Admire the historical past, have a seaside day, or take pleasure in inner-city buying at outlet shops. Michigan City provides masses and, on the very least, is a change of scene.

You can simply go to Michigan City; correct day-long journeys are low on journey time and excessive on points of interest. And that sums up this lakeside metropolis.

Distance from Chicago: 1 to 2 hours How to get there: 1 hour by automotive or 2 hours by practice

19. Peoria, IL

Day Trips from chicago Peoria IL
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Peoria is a gorgeous metropolis in Illinois. It was primarily established as a port metropolis and buying and selling heart due to its place on the Illinois River. It is situated a lot additional inland in central Illinois. It is simply an hour or so additional central than Starved Rock State Park – howdy, potential mixed day journey.

Peoria has lovely riverside parks, together with Peoria Riverfront Park and Liberty Park. There’s additionally the Riverfront Museum and Peoria Historical Society. It is a stunning place to simply stroll and discover on foot. And the distinction between hectic Chicago and sedate Peoria is huge, making it a worthwhile day journey.

The metropolis is situated southwest of Chicago and is greatest accessed by automotive. This approach, you may as well cease off at Starved Rock State Park on the way in which.

Distance from Chicago: 2.5 hours How to get there: By automotive

20. Six Flags Great America, IL

Day Trips from chicago Six Flags Great America IL
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What a few day at an amusement park? Six Flags Great America is a sequence of amusement parks scattered throughout the US. And there may be one on the outskirts of Chicago, creating the very best day journey for fun-loving vacationers. The park has water park rides, rollercoasters, and all-round enjoyable leisure. You can get adrenaline on rides like Sky Striker or the American Eagle. Alternatively, strive the sedate, family-friendly rides just like the Big Easy Balloons or Cubasco tea cups.

Everyone loves a enjoyable time out. And Six Flags Great America is the proper day journey to skip sightseeing and escape the town to take pleasure in some high quality ‘fun’ time. It is the perfect place to let your hair down and has a powerful vary of rides, making it appropriate for adults and youngsters. Six Flags Great America is situated north of Chicago, just below the Wisconsin border. Get your tickets upfront right here.

Distance from Chicago: 1 to 2 hours How to get there: 1 hour by automotive or 2 hours by practice then bus

21. Glacial Park Conservation Area

Day Trips from chicago Glacial Park Conservation Area
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Finally, there’s the gorgeous Glacial Park Conservation Area. This 3,400-acre reserve is a surprising mixture of wetlands and prairie, with glacial kames and ample scenic canoeing or fishing alternatives. It is likely one of the most photogenic locations to expertise pure magnificence on a day journey from Chicago. You can discover Glacial Park on foot or by water or shake issues up and e-book a horseback using tour. The park has a grand whole of 8 miles of shared-use trails, and also you’ll undoubtedly wish to convey a digicam.

Glacial Park Conservation Area opens from dawn till sundown all 12 months spherical. It is right if you wish to change from the usual suburban park expertise to a little bit of rugged, distant nature.

Distance from Chicago: 1 hour and 20 minutes How to get there: By automotive

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There’s a lot to expertise on day journeys from Chicago – whether or not that’s Dutch heritage, wealthy historical past associated to the Civil War, or using water park rides at Six Flags America. You can embrace small-town allure at Oglesby, pure magnificence and pure wonders at Indiana Dunes National Park, or craft beer at an area brewery. Chicago’s location proper subsequent to a few different state borders means you’ve gotten plenty of range when selecting day journeys. And the ever-presence of gorgeous Lake Michigan means a continuing barrage of water sports activities and seashores. Hopefully, you’ve gotten at the very least 5 or 6 day journey selections.

Are you in search of extra inspiration? Why not try our guides on the greatest issues to do in Wisconsin and the very best locations to go to in Michigan? We’ve additionally received notes on the very best, most distinctive issues to do in Northern Michigan particularly, so examine that out when you have time so as to add a few days to the tip of your Chicago journey. If you’ve gotten longer, why not take a 2-3 day tour from Chicago? It is an excellent launchpad to find extra of the experiences within the states round Lake Michigan. Chicago’s location is by far its successful high quality, and it is best to benefit from it when planning day journeys and excursions.

Plan your journey to Chicago with these Resources



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