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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 a neighborhood or a traveler desperate to discover past the skyline, our information to the most effective day journeys from Chicago is your ticket to journey. We’ll present you learn 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 street – 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 offer you 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 town heart. After exploring all the superior issues to do in Chicago, from the Chicago River to historic landmarks, head to those implausible locations situated inside simple attain of town.

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

1. Milwaukee, WI

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Milwaukee is a giant deal. This main metropolis is situated on the shores of western Lake Michigan in Wisconsin – only a 1.5 hour prepare experience or drive north of Chicago. We’d recommend catching the prepare if doable, as Milwaukee is finest recognized for its breweries. Taking guided brewery excursions is among the finest issues to do in Milwaukee. Aside from its alcohol, although, it is usually dwelling to the Holler House and Milwaukee Art Museum. Don’t neglect the Harley-Davidson Museum, which hosts an exquisite show of bikes and paperwork iconic biker tradition. The Milwaukee Public Museum additionally has a large-scale European village.

If you need a implausible day trip from Chicago, Milwaukee is right. It has a powerful sense of tradition and lots of area of interest pockets of curiosity, like Harley-Davidson bikes and breweries. It can be a breeze to achieve by prepare 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 distinct vibe as a college metropolis on the St. Joseph River. It is implausible in case you are on the lookout for a extra sedate metropolis expertise. You can go to the University of Notre Dame’s iconic campus, with its basic 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 aspect of Indiana Dunes National Park, and on the decrease east shore of Lake Michigan. It is finest 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 prepare

3. Madison, WI

Day Trips from Chicago Madison IL
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Small Madison won’t appear capital-worthy, however it’s really the capital metropolis of Wisconsin, not the most important, sprawling big of Milwaukee. This smaller metropolis has lovely structure galore. You can stand up near the historic domed Wisconsin State Capitol and stroll the Capital City State Trail to sightsee completely 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 outlets. Madison is your most suitable option when you fancy a political sightseeing day journey from Chicago.

Madison can be superbly situated subsequent to 2 big 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 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 among the hottest points of interest in Illinois. The park sits on the banks of the Illinois River and holds a group 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 picket boardwalks. Starved Rock State Park additionally has tons of waterfalls, which get impressively highly effective in wetter months.

Nature lovers will adore this present day 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 severe appeal. It has old-school-style homes and is incessantly in comparison with a film set. The city was based within the 1840s by a combination of predominantly Irish and German settlers and is now thought-about 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 finest reached from Chicago by automotive, and you may all the time 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 an exquisite shore path and community of mountain climbing trails. It is a perfect place for a seashore day alongside the shores of Lake Michigan. However, Illinois Beach State Park is equally greater than only a seashore 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 achieve by automotive. It’s an amazing day journey when you’ve got a heat day or fancy a seashore journey. Or it’s the excellent journey when you fancy tenting an evening to interrupt up your basic 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 an exquisite resort metropolis alongside the banks of Geneva Lake in Wisconsin, northwest of Chicago. As a small metropolis out of the main public transport traces, it’s best reached by automotive.

Once you arrive, you might be 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 looking out 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 an exquisite 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 significant metropolis situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, giving it the nickname’ River City’. Rockford can be referred to as the ‘Forest City’ due to its historical past of tree felling, forests, and furniture-making industries. It is a shapeshifter with an extended historical past and a outstanding place in Illinois’ society. Nowadays, although, it is a perfect day journey candidate and is filled with standard points of interest and historic locations. You can cease by the koi-filled ponds at Anderson Japanese Gardens, chill in quite a few public parks, or head to the Rockford Art Museum. Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens can be sensible.

Rockford is situated in northern Illinois, proper below the Wisconsin border. We’d advocate combining it with a visit to Madison, situated roughly an hour above town. It is a superb 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 when you like pure magnificence – purpose large with Indiana Dunes National Park. This gorgeous park is excess of simply sand dunes and covers 15 miles of lovely shoreline excellent for swimming and sunbathing. Indiana Dunes National Park can be a sizzling spot for chook watching and mountain climbing. The nationwide park is situated on the southern finish of Lake Michigan. It is an exquisite 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 gorgeous 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 advantage. Lakeshore State Park is finest explored on foot by strolling the Hank Aaron State Trail. You can get pleasure from metropolis skyline views and expansive vistas over Lake Michigan. And in case you are on the lookout for 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 an exquisite spot close to 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 an enormous cheese popularity. You can go to to take meals excursions – extremely really helpful – and check out 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 outlets 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 finest 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 super 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 carry a beautiful, vintage-style aesthetic to town. A basic purple and white lighthouse is close to town’s North Pier.

St Joseph is an exquisite alternative if you would like a kind of conventional seaside day journeys. It is just a brief drive from Chicago, even though you’ll be venturing by way of Indiana and crossing the Michigan border. Hooray for Lake Michigan’s shut community of US states. It is implausible 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 a number of the most historic Illinois canals, housing a restored lock tender’s home for further historic worth. You can get pleasure from a community of mountain climbing trails with waterfalls, birds, and historic towpaths to snap images 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 superb day journey if you would like minimal journey time and an perception into Illinois’ canal historical past.

You can arrange 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 broadly hailed as a vital 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 an exquisite village within the suburbs of Chicago. It actually packs a punch past fairly structure for such a small space. Visitors can get pleasure from 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 would like journeys from Chicago executed simply.

It is so helpful to leap on a prepare 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 could be very a lot up and coming by way of customer recognition and worth for tourism.

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

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 – assume skyscrapers and an exquisite 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 wish to catch a shuttle to Grand Rapids, because it has an illustrious brewery historical past. In specific, it’s recognized 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 an extended however very scenic drive. Ideally, rotate drivers and have a number of completely different stops en route.

Distance from Chicago: 3 to five hours How to get there: By automotive in slightly below 3 hours or by shuttle in below 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 incorporates a 250-year-old windmill in an ode to 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 gorgeous in spring.

This is among the main day journeys from Chicago if you would like 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 way of northern Indiana and throughout the Michigan border. When it involves visiting Michigan, distance is usually a concern. Is it an extended day of driving? Yes. But it’s extremely scenic and an effective way to mix a number of points of interest. If you will have a number of drivers, you gained’t have any bother as you possibly can 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 a captivating small city, sitting on the banks of the Galena River with tons of Civil War historical past. The city was dwelling to the Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant, and his former house is a State Historic Site. Of course, Ulysses S. Grant later turned a US president, so his story is immortalized. Galena is a superb place to go to in case you are interested by politics and historical past. Its city heart is comparatively walkable and is filled with tales and scenic Nineteenth-century structure.

Galena is correct within the prime left nook of Illinois, on the border of Iowa and Wisconsin. It is a superb 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 prepare experience? You can learn or nap and attain 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 seashore day, or get pleasure from inner-city purchasing at outlet shops. Michigan City affords hundreds 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 prepare

19. Peoria, IL

Day Trips from chicago Peoria IL
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Peoria is an exquisite metropolis in Illinois. It was primarily established as a port metropolis and buying and selling heart because of 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 only 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 finest accessed by automotive. This method, 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 series of amusement parks scattered throughout the US. And there’s one on the outskirts of Chicago, creating the most effective 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, attempt the sedate, family-friendly rides just like the Big Easy Balloons or Cubasco tea cups.

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

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

21. Glacial Park Conservation Area

Day Trips from chicago Glacial Park Conservation Area
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Finally, there’s the attractive 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 among 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 carry a digicam.

Glacial Park Conservation Area opens from dawn till sundown all yr 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 appeal at Oglesby, pure magnificence and pure wonders at Indiana Dunes National Park, or craft beer at a neighborhood brewery. Chicago’s location proper subsequent to 3 different state borders means you will have plenty of variety when selecting day journeys. And the ever-presence of lovely Lake Michigan means a relentless barrage of water sports activities and seashores. Hopefully, you will have at the least 5 or 6 day journey selections.

Are you on the lookout for extra inspiration? Why not try our guides on the finest issues to do in Wisconsin and the most effective locations to go to in Michigan? We’ve additionally obtained notes on the most effective, most distinctive issues to do in Northern Michigan particularly, so test that out when you’ve got time so as to add a few days to the tip of your Chicago journey. If you will have 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 profitable high quality, and it’s best to make the most of it when planning day journeys and excursions.

Plan your journey to Chicago with these Resources



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