21 Best Day Trips From Chicago In 2024

21 Best Day Trips From Chicago In 2024

Welcome to the Windy Metropolis! Whether or not an area or a traveler desirous to discover past the skyline, our information to the perfect day journeys from Chicago is your ticket to journey. We’ll present you easy methods 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!

Unbelievable Day Journeys from Chicago

Top Day Trips from Chicago

On this information, we offer you concepts for the highest day journeys from the third most populous metropolis within the US. Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan, many locations will tempt you away from the town middle. After exploring the entire awesome things to do in Chicago, from the Chicago River to historic landmarks, head to those implausible locations situated inside straightforward attain of the town.

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

1. Milwaukee, WI

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 journey or drive north of Chicago. We’d recommend catching the prepare if attainable, as Milwaukee is finest identified for its breweries. Taking guided brewery excursions is without doubt one of the best things to do in Milwaukee. Apart from its alcohol, although, it is usually dwelling to the Holler Home and Milwaukee Artwork Museum. Don’t overlook the Harley-Davidson Museum, which hosts a lovely show of bikes and paperwork iconic biker tradition. The Milwaukee Public Museum additionally has a large-scale European village.

If you’d like a implausible time out from Chicago, Milwaukee is good. It has a robust sense of tradition and lots of area of interest pockets of curiosity, like Harley-Davidson bikes and breweries. It’s also a breeze to achieve by prepare or automotive.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours
  • The way to get there: Practice, bus or coach

Recommended Tour: A Group Tour to Discover Milwaukee

2. South Bend, IN

Day Trips from Chicago South Bend IL

South Bend has a special vibe as a college metropolis on the St. Joseph River. It’s implausible if you’re in search of a extra sedate metropolis expertise. You possibly can go to the College 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 middle, like automotive manufacturing from years passed by at Studebaker Nationwide Museum and the regional historical past on the Historical past Museum.

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

Town is situated simply east of Chicago, on the opposite facet of Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park, and on the decrease east shore of Lake Michigan. It’s best reached by automotive, and we’d suggest stopping off on the nationwide park en route.

  • Distance from Chicago: 2 to three hours
  • The way to get there: Automobile or prepare

3. Madison, WI

Day Trips from Chicago Madison IL

Small Madison may not appear capital-worthy, however it’s truly the capital metropolis of Wisconsin, not the main, sprawling large of Milwaukee. This smaller metropolis has stunning structure galore. You possibly can rise up near the historic domed Wisconsin State Capitol and stroll the Capital Metropolis State Path 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 when you fancy a political sightseeing day journey from Chicago.

Madison can be superbly situated subsequent to 2 enormous lakes – Lake Mendota and Lake Waubesa. Summer time leaves loads of alternatives for water sports activities and sunny waterfront mountain climbing trails. Follow this walking 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
  • The way to get there: By automotive or shuttle bus

4. Starved Rock State Park, IL

Day Trips from Chicago Starved Rock State Park IL

Starved Rock State Park is without doubt one of 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 stunning forests. The canyons had been initially lower with glacial meltwater, and you’ll 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 it’s also possible to 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’s situated inland from Chicago and Lake Michigan.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours
  • The way to get there: Automobile

5. Cedarburg, WI

Cedarburg has critical appeal. It has old-school-style homes and is steadily 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 possibly can stroll the vineyards and tour brewing rooms or head to distinctive points of interest just like the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Positive 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 middle. It’s best reached from Chicago by automotive, and you’ll all the time incorporate a stop-off in Milwaukee’s metropolis middle – parking within the outskirts and commuting in.

  • Distance from Chicago: 2 hours
  • The way to get there: By automotive

6. Illinois Seaside State Park, IL

Day Trips from Chicago Illinois Beach State Park IL

If you’d like seashores, Illinois Seaside State Park is the place to be on a Chicago day journey. The park covers over 4,000 acres, with a lovely shore path and community of mountain climbing trails. It is a perfect place for a seashore day alongside the shores of Lake Michigan. Nevertheless, Illinois Seaside State Park is equally greater than only a seashore vacation spot.

It has campgrounds and playgrounds, plus bathe blocks and a nature middle. Illinois Seaside State Park is someplace to spend a complete day. Begin with a hike and go to the character middle earlier than heading to Isherwood Seaside, 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 excellent day journey if in case you have a heat day or fancy a seashore journey. Or it’s the good journey when you fancy tenting an evening to interrupt up your traditional metropolis break.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1 hour
  • The way to get there: By automotive

7. Lake Geneva, WI

Day Trips from Chicago Lake Geneva WI

Lake Geneva is a lovely 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.

When 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. Traditionally, Lake Geneva was used as a bolt-hole for prosperous Chicago residents, and looking out on the metropolis’s surrounding pure magnificence, it’s straightforward to see why.

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

  • Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours
  • The way to get there: By automotive

8. Rockford, IL

Day Trips from Chicago Rockford IL

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

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

  • Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours
  • The way to get there: By automotive

9. Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park, IN

Day Trips from Chicago Indiana Dunes National Park IN

Overlook state parks when you like pure magnificence – goal massive with Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park. This gorgeous park is excess of simply sand dunes and covers 15 miles of lovely shoreline good for swimming and sunbathing. Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park can be a sizzling spot for chicken watching and mountain climbing. The nationwide park is situated on the southern finish of Lake Michigan. It’s a stunning spot to go to to embrace the lake’s magnificence. An entrance ticket prices round $20, and you’ll spend the entire day exploring the park.

Indiana Dunes Nationwide 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
  • The way to get there: By automotive

10. Lakeshore State Park, WI

Day Trips from Chicago Lakeshore State Park WI

Everybody loves an city park. This gorgeous park sits simply off Milwaukee’s shoreline. Nonetheless, we’ll 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 Path. You possibly can get pleasure from 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 effectively mixed with a go to to Milwaukee. This little island state park is a lovely spot close to the town. It’s situated off the Historic Third Ward and accessible by a pedestrianized bridge connecting it to the mainland.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours
  • The way to get there: By automotive

11. Monroe, WI

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 status. You possibly can go to to take meals excursions – extremely beneficial – and check out native merchandise and produce. It is best to go to the Nationwide Historic Cheese Making Middle Museum and the Chalet Cheese Cooperative. There’s additionally stunning structure and historic locations, just like the Inexperienced County Courthouse, accomplished in 1891. The Monroe Historic Sq. is within the metropolis’s middle, surrounded by retailers and aesthetic surroundings.

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

  • Distance from Chicago: 2 hours
  • The way to get there: By automotive

12. St. Joseph, MI

Day Trips from Chicago St Joseph MI

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

St Joseph is a lovely alternative if you’d like a type of conventional seaside day journeys. It is just a brief drive from Chicago, even though you’ll be venturing by means of Indiana and crossing the Michigan border. Hooray for Lake Michigan’s shut community of US states. It’s implausible to mix with Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park and Michigan Metropolis.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours
  • The way to get there: By Automobile

13. Channahon State Park, IL

Day Trips from Channahon State Park IL

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 possibly can get pleasure from a community of mountain climbing trails with waterfalls, birds, and historic towpaths to snap pictures of. Distance isn’t a problem when visiting inland Illinois; Channahon State Park is lower than an hour’s drive from central Chicago. It’s a nice day journey if you’d like minimal journey time and an perception into Illinois’ canal historical past.

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

  • Distance from Chicago: 50 minutes
  • The way to get there: By automotive

14. Oak Park, IL

Day Trips from chicago Oak Park IL

Oak Park is a lovely village within the suburbs of Chicago. It actually packs a punch past fairly structure for such a small space. Guests can get pleasure from points of interest just like the Frank Lloyd Wright Residence and Studio, Ernest Hemingway’s Boyhood Residence, the Nationwide Historic Landmark of Mills Park and the Oak Park River Forest Museum. Oak Park is a quickfire choice of museums in a tiny space, accessible from central Chicago utilizing public transport. What’s to not love? It’s the good alternative if you’d like journeys from Chicago executed simply.

It’s so helpful to leap on a prepare and be amongst dozens of museums. Moreover, its Unity Temple was not too long ago designated as a UNESCO World Heritage in 2019. Regardless of all its current 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
  • The way to get there: By prepare

Recommended Tour: Private Frank Lloyd Wright Tour from Chicago

15. Grand Rapids, MI

Day Trips from chicago Grand Rapids MI

Grand Rapids is one other main metropolis – suppose skyscrapers and a lovely 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 Artwork 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. Specifically, it’s identified for New Holland Brewing, and you’ll take guided tasting excursions on the native breweries which might be nonetheless working. In any other case, driving is faster, and you’ll cease off at spots like Indiana Sand Dunes Nationwide 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 couple of totally different stops en route.

  • Distance from Chicago: 3 to five hours
  • The way to get there: By automotive in just below 3 hours or by shuttle in below 4
  • Recommended Tour: Grand Rapids Ghost Tour

16. Windmill Island Gardens, MI

Day Trips from chicago Windmill Island Gardens MI

Chicago is perhaps often known as ‘Windy Metropolis,’ however try Windmill Island Gardens. This seasonal park includes a 250-year-old windmill in an ode to the town’s Dutch affect. You possibly 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 without doubt one of the main day journeys from Chicago if you’d 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, chopping by means of northern Indiana and throughout the Michigan border. With regards to visiting Michigan, distance generally is a concern. Is it an extended day of driving? Sure. However it’s extremely scenic and a good way to mix a number of points of interest. If in case you have a couple of drivers, you gained’t have any bother as you possibly can simply rotate driving time.

  • Distance from Chicago: 2.5 hours
  • The way to get there: By automotive

17. Galena, IL

Day Trips from chicago Galena IL

Galena is an absolute gem of an enthralling small city, sitting on the banks of the Galena River with tons of Civil Battle historical past. The city was dwelling to the Civil Battle Normal Ulysses S. Grant, and his former house is a State Historic Website. In fact, Ulysses S. Grant later turned a US president, so his story is immortalized. Galena is a superb place to go to if you’re curious about politics and historical past. Its city middle is comparatively walkable and is filled with tales and scenic Nineteenth-century structure.

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

18. Michigan Metropolis, IN

Day Trips from chicago Michigan City IN

Michigan Metropolis is simply an hour away and is sensible, accessible day journey materials. If you’d like a simple journey from Chicago, Michigan Metropolis is it. Fancy a drive? You possibly can drive there in an hour, passing Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park. Fancy a prepare journey? You possibly can learn or nap and attain the town in lower than 2 hours. There’s numerous lakeside tradition and historical past, with a number of lighthouses to admire and the quaint Washington Park Seaside.

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 Metropolis presents masses and, on the very least, is a change of scene.

You possibly can simply go to Michigan Metropolis; 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
  • The way to get there: 1 hour by automotive or 2 hours by prepare

19. Peoria, IL

Day Trips from chicago Peoria IL

Peoria is a lovely metropolis in Illinois. It was primarily established as a port metropolis and buying and selling middle because of its place on the Illinois River. It’s situated a lot additional inland in central Illinois. It’s simply an hour or so additional central than Starved Rock State Park – hiya, potential mixed day journey.

Peoria has stunning riverside parks, together with Peoria Riverfront Park and Liberty Park. There’s additionally the Riverfront Museum and Peoria Historic Society. It’s a pretty 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.

Town is situated southwest of Chicago and is finest accessed by automotive. This manner, it’s also possible to cease off at Starved Rock State Park on the best way.

  • Distance from Chicago: 2.5 hours
  • The way to get there: By automotive

20. Six Flags Nice America, IL

Day Trips from chicago Six Flags Great America IL

What a couple of day at an amusement park? Six Flags Nice America is a series of amusement parks scattered throughout the US. And there’s one on the outskirts of Chicago, creating the perfect day journey for fun-loving vacationers. The park has water park rides, rollercoasters, and all-round enjoyable leisure. You may get adrenaline on rides like Sky Striker or the American Eagle. Alternatively, attempt the sedate, family-friendly rides just like the Large Simple Balloons or Cubasco tea cups.

Everybody loves a enjoyable time out. And Six Flags Nice America is the right day journey to skip sightseeing and escape the town to get pleasure from some high quality ‘enjoyable’ time. It’s the excellent place to let your hair down and has a powerful vary of rides, making it appropriate for adults and kids. Six Flags Nice America is situated north of Chicago, just below the Wisconsin border. Get your tickets in advance here.

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

21. Glacial Park Conservation Space

Day Trips from chicago Glacial Park Conservation Area

Lastly, there’s the attractive Glacial Park Conservation Space. This 3,400-acre reserve is a shocking mixture of wetlands and prairie, with glacial kames and ample scenic canoeing or fishing alternatives. It is without doubt one of the most photogenic locations to expertise pure magnificence on a day journey from Chicago. You possibly can discover Glacial Park on foot or by water or shake issues up and e book a horseback driving tour. The park has a grand complete of 8 miles of shared-use trails, and also you’ll undoubtedly need to deliver a digital camera.

Glacial Park Conservation Space opens from dawn till sundown all 12 months spherical. It’s excellent 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
  • The way to get there: By automotive

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 Battle, or driving water park rides at Six Flags America. You possibly can embrace small-town appeal at Oglesby, pure magnificence and pure wonders at Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park, or craft beer at an area brewery. Chicago’s location proper subsequent to a few different state borders means you’ve numerous variety when selecting day journeys. And the ever-presence of lovely Lake Michigan means a continuing barrage of water sports activities and seashores. Hopefully, you’ve not less than 5 or 6 day journey decisions.

Are you in search of extra inspiration? Why not try our guides on the best things to do in Wisconsin and the best places to visit in Michigan? We’ve additionally acquired notes on the perfect, most unique things to do in Northern Michigan particularly, so verify that out if in case you have time so as to add a few days to the tip of your Chicago journey. If in case you have longer, why not take a 2-3 day tour from Chicago? It’s a sensible 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 is best to make the most of it when planning day journeys and excursions.

Plan your journey to Chicago with these Assets

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