21 Best Day Trips From Chicago In 2024


Welcome to the Windy City! Whether a neighborhood 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 how you can 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!

Incredible Day Trips from Chicago

Top 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 town middle. After exploring the entire awesome things to do in Chicago, from the Chicago River to historic landmarks, head to those incredible locations positioned inside simple attain of town.

The metropolis is ideally positioned with simple border-crossing into Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. It can be an awesome 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

Milwaukee is an enormous deal. This main metropolis is positioned on the shores of western Lake Michigan in Wisconsin – only a 1.5 hour prepare journey or drive north of Chicago. We’d counsel catching the prepare if attainable, as Milwaukee is finest recognized for its breweries. Taking guided brewery excursions is without doubt one of the finest issues to do in Milwaukee. Aside from its alcohol, although, additionally it is dwelling to the Holler House and Milwaukee Art Museum. Don’t overlook the Harley-Davidson Museum, which hosts a ravishing show of bikes and paperwork iconic biker tradition. The Milwaukee Public Museum additionally has a large-scale European village.

If you desire a incredible 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 can be a breeze to succeed in 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

South Bend has a distinct vibe as a college metropolis on the St. Joseph River. It is incredible 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 basic gold-domed constructing. There’s additionally loads of native historical past which you could expertise within the metropolis middle, like automotive manufacturing from years passed by at Studebaker National Museum and the regional historical past on the History Museum.

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

The metropolis is positioned simply east of Chicago, on the opposite facet 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

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 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 retailers. Madison is your best option for those who fancy a political sightseeing day journey from Chicago.

Madison can be superbly positioned 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 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

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 set of sandstone canyons amidst lovely forests. The canyons have been initially minimize with glacial meltwater, and you’ll 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 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 is positioned inland from Chicago and Lake Michigan.

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

5. Cedarburg, WI

Cedarburg has severe attraction. It has old-school-style homes and is continuously 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-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 positioned simply north of Milwaukee’s metropolis middle. It is finest reached from Chicago by automotive, and you’ll at all times incorporate a stop-off in Milwaukee’s metropolis middle – 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

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 ravishing 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 middle. Illinois Beach State Park is someplace to spend a complete day. Start with a hike and go to the character middle earlier than heading to Isherwood Beach, and even tenting in a single day in case your schedule permits it.

The park is kind of near Chicago, taking lower than an hour to succeed in by automotive. It’s an awesome day journey when you’ve got a heat day or fancy a seashore journey. Or it’s the good journey for those who 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

Lake Geneva is a ravishing 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’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 ravishing 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

Rockford is a significant metropolis positioned 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 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, 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 positioned in northern Illinois, proper below the Wisconsin border. We’d advocate combining it with a visit to Madison, positioned 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

Forget state parks for those who like pure magnificence – purpose massive with Indiana Dunes National Park. This gorgeous park is excess of simply sand dunes and covers 15 miles of lovely shoreline good for swimming and sunbathing. Indiana Dunes National Park can be a scorching spot for chicken watching and mountain climbing. The nationwide park is positioned on the southern finish of Lake Michigan. It is a ravishing 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 National Park is positioned 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

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 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 effectively mixed with a go to to Milwaukee. This little island state park is a ravishing spot close to town. It is positioned 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

Monroe is fairly cool. The quirky metropolis is called the Swiss cheese capital. It has an enormous historical past of dairy farming that has given it an enormous cheese repute. You can go to to take meals excursions – extremely really useful – 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 middle, surrounded by retailers and aesthetic surroundings.

Monroe is a tiny metropolis in comparison with a few of Chicago’s neighboring giants. It is roughly positioned midway between Madison and Rockford. It is certainly 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

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 a beautiful, vintage-style aesthetic to town. A basic pink and white lighthouse is close to town’s North Pier.

St Joseph is a ravishing 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 is incredible 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

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 superb day journey if you’d like 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 delegated 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

Oak Park is a ravishing 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 right alternative if you’d like journeys from Chicago executed simply.

It is so useful 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 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 prepare

Suggested 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 ravishing 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 recognized for New Holland Brewing, and you’ll take guided tasting excursions on the native breweries which are nonetheless operating. Otherwise, driving is faster, and you’ll 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 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

Chicago is perhaps referred to 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 without doubt one of the main day journeys from Chicago if you’d like Dutch heritage, and it’s even positioned outdoors of a metropolis named Holland. Windmill Island Gardens is positioned in Michigan, so that you’ll be driving the south coast of Lake Michigan, reducing by means of northern Indiana and throughout the Michigan border. When it involves visiting Michigan, distance generally is 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

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 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 if you’re fascinated by politics and historical past. Its city middle 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

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 journey? You can learn or nap and attain town in lower than 2 hours. There’s a lot 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 take pleasure in inner-city buying at outlet shops. Michigan City affords 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 prepare

19. Peoria, IL

Day Trips from chicago Peoria IL

Peoria is a ravishing metropolis in Illinois. It was primarily established as a port metropolis and buying and selling middle due to its place on the Illinois River. It is positioned a lot additional inland in central Illinois. It is simply an hour or so additional central than Starved Rock State Park – hey, 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 positioned southwest of Chicago and is finest accessed by automotive. This method, it’s also possible to cease off at Starved Rock State Park on the best way.

  • 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

What a couple of 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 perfect 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 right day journey to skip sightseeing and escape town to take pleasure in some high quality ‘fun’ time. It is the best place to let your hair down and has a formidable vary of rides, making it appropriate for adults and kids. Six Flags Great America is positioned 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

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 without doubt 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 ebook 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 good 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

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 attraction 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 a few different state borders means you’ve gotten a lot of range when selecting day journeys. And the ever-presence of lovely Lake Michigan means a relentless barrage of water sports activities and seashores. Hopefully, you’ve gotten at the least 5 or 6 day journey decisions.

Are you in search of extra inspiration? Why not try our guides on the finest issues to do in Wisconsin and the perfect locations to go to in Michigan? We’ve additionally obtained notes on the perfect, 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 top 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 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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