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11 Best Day Trips From Chicago In The Lap Of Nature And Rivers

It’s obvious that there are a heap of places to travel in Chicago, but if you want to get away from the city and explore more of its hidden gems of it, then you should plan day trips from Chicago. 

Chicago comes in the USA which is surrounded by many other beautiful states of the USA such as beautiful destinations of Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan. These are not too far away to have a weekend day trip from Chicago if you are having a short holiday from your firm.

There are many best-day tours from Chicago where you will get to have a lot of fun and will get filled with zeal in you on your return back.

Below are some of the places most preferred by tourists and claimed to be the most awful spots to break from your dry life.

Best Day Trips From Chicago:

1. Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Starved Rock State Park in Illinois, best day trips from Chicago
Amazing canyons waterfall in Starved Rock State Park

It will take hardly 1 hour 40 seconds from Chicago and it’s the perfect place for adventure for a day trip. It is meant to be the number one attraction and most beautiful spot in Illinois. 

Starved Rock State Park is famous for hiking along with tourists among trails of the waterfall, lush trees, and more than 18 stunning sandstone gullies. You will definitely enjoy La Salle Canyon in Spring, standing under the fall.

In the beautiful Illinois River, travelers like to go canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and fishing. As the area is bit a foresty, so here you can have the opportunity of various Bird watching, hunting, and horseback riding.

2. Oak Park, Illinois

Oak Park, Illinois, chicago day trips
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, Illinois

The nearest destination for weekend day trips from Chicago which is just 25 mint far, located in Illinois, Oak Park. The city is proud of itself for keeping its culture, tradition, religion, and social economy in its ethenic way and stands by it yet now.

If you are in Oak Park City and you are not getting introduced to Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, it’s worthless to come here. Book your set from Frank Lloyd Wright Trust and have a 2-hour tour.

After a great visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home, if you must be looking for some yummy brunch or a stomach full of lunch, grab a seat in Maya del Sol. The place is famous for its Margarita and delicious ceviche.

3. Apple River Canyon State Park, Illinois

Apple River Canyon State Park, wonderful day trip from Chicago
Beautiful mix of canyon and the river passing by it in Apple River Canyon State Park

In the trails of rolling hills in the north of Illinois, Apple River Canyon State Park is located about a 3-hour drive from Chicago.

If you are looking for peaceful places, quite away from the city for a day trip from Chicago, this river sour side of the Apple River is the best destination for you.

On this day trip from Chicago, there are 4 hiking tracks with high lush flora and fauna. Apart from this, there are many sites in the park beside the bank of the river where you can make a stop for a picnic with your family.

Canyons of the river which is giving a great scenic view of the park. Your day will definitely be excellent sitting on the lap of nature.

4. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lake Geneva, weekend day trips from Chicago
Gorgeous shoreline of Lake Geneva

In the southwest, 75 miles from Chicago, Lake Geneva is situated in Wisconsin and is such a pleasant place for day trips. 

Wisconsin is a resort city based near the site of the river, there are many awesome activities to explore and burn extra calories, and even Chicagoans feel great indulging in all these activities.

In your Chicago day trips, over the water, you will get to do boating, paddle-boarding, and cruises whereas when you are at the shoreline along the river you will get fun of golf, hiking, zip lines, spas, and more. In one sentence all is ready for you to relax and enjoy.

Besides this, there are areas for petting and small-small waterparks nearby which your children will definitely enjoy. Furthermore, many restaurants, shops, and galleries are there where you will not get bored while exploring.

5. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Chicago day trips
Largest music SummerFest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The drive of 1 hour and 40 minutes to Milwaukee is the best day trip from Chicago. The old city of Wisconsin, Milwaukee is famous for many places and has many things to do for your Chicago day trips.

The city is famous for its beer, which has kept the same old authentic flavor till yet. You can have a delicious cuisine meal from Milwaukee in your lunch.

in your Milwaukee day trips from Chicago, there are many things to explore in a day which include Hardly- Davison bike museum, watching theaters, go to the country Zoo with your family. These are only some of the best things to do when you come for Chicago day trips.

Apart from this, the city is also called “The City of Festivals” and they held the world’s biggest music festival. And of course, it’s the main reason to attract so many tourists every year from worldwide to watch and enjoy the city’s SummerFest.

6. Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, beautiful city for day trips from Chicago | Chicago day trips
Capital city of Wisconsin, Madison is a beautiful place to explore

Madison is just 150 miles away from Chicago which takes 3 hours to reach and it’s worth coming to Chicago on day trips with your family. Madison the capital city of Wisconsin, and has some beautiful sights to amuse yourself.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens is the perfect day trip from Chicago to Madison as it is a very peaceful atmosphere with a fresh full environment.

Moreover, many art museums are waiting for you to experience some awful artwork displays in the Chazen Museum of Art as well as the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

The city is between two lakes: Lake Monona on one side and Lake Mendota on the other. Thus no escape way to the site beside the water and enjoying the gorgeous sunset on the bed of the river. It just adds more completeness with a glass of drink and snacks by your side.

7. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids, best beer in America | Chicago day trips
Have beer from Founder’s in Grand Rapids, best beer in America

Take an early morning drive of 3 hours from Chicago to Grand Rapid, the modern city which is diverse with different cultures and religions. Thus making the best day tour from Chicago. This city is increasingly popular and is excellent to give a change to your daily office routine.

For the beer lover, the city is heaven to them as you will get to many craft breweries and the best one is Founder’s where the best beer in America is served.

Moreover, the city has some award-winning views, and the most famous Frederik Meijer, diamond to the city is a sculpted garden covering an area of 158 acres, where you will enjoy even live music shows, which gives you a soothing feel.

8. Saugatuck, Michigan

Saugatuck, beautiful day tour from Chicago | Chicago day trips
Enjoy the quick boat ride in Lake Michigan, Saugatuck

Saugatuck is a quick day tour from Chicago which takes 2 and a half hours to reach. This sweet little town in Michigan has its own charms and gateway to so many hearts.

Summer with sandy beaches and fall in love with winter in this city. It’s just a quite pleasant city, which makes you feel to come over and over. You can take a quick drive to the coast of Lake Michigan.

The city is not less in food and meal, as you will experience great hospitality in cafes and bars in this small town.

Apart from this, City is once known as the Art Coast of Michigan, to demonstrate and has the Art Institute of Chicago, where you will get a large collection of paintings, drawings, years ago pottery art, and many more.

9. Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis, weekend day trips from Chicago to Indiana | Chicago day trips
White River State Park of Indianapolis in Indiana, the best weekend trips from Chicago

Indianapolis takes 3 hours to reach Chicago. A wonderful place for weekend day trips from Chicago so that you can begin your week with a fresh start.

In the 225-acre area, this White River State Park is a waterfront park and is the best attraction of downtown with a long track for a walk and many small children’s parks, make your visit a fun day tour with your family and children.

Most uniquely, the city is famous for motor racing speed tracks which are the world’s largest race tracks and are quite impressive for the motor race lover.

Apart from this historic heritage of this city are Historic Central Canal, the Historic Pumphouse, and Old Washington Street Pedestrian Bridge, and many more places which are worth visiting.

10. Michigan City, Indiana

Michigan City, best day trips from Chicago | Chicago day trips
Lighthouse on site of beach in Michigan City, best day trips from Chicago

In the lands of Indiana, Michigan City is situated 60 miles apart from Chicago, best for unplanned Chicago day trips. It will take one and a half hours to reach there and the drive to your fellowmen will be of great fun.

The city is based on the site of  Michigan Lake and most of your time will be spent beside the lakefront only. There are many food stalls, cafes, and bars near the lagoon with delicious foods and drinks.

The Lighthouse Museum is a great place to pass your trip with interesting local life of the city, the history of the lighthouse, and even a visit to the lighthouse near the beach of the city.

More interesting, and wonderful Washington Park Zoo covers a 15-acre area and is the shelter of tigers and native grizzly bears too.

Indiana Dunes National Park:

Located just 50 miles southeast of Chicago, this national park features 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, sand dunes, and hiking trails. Visitors can also explore the historic Chellberg Farm and attend ranger-led programs. Indiana Dunes National Park is a beautiful, expansive park located on the southern shore of Lake Michigan in Indiana. It is a perfect destination for nature lovers, beachgoers, and outdoor enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of Indiana Dunes National Park, including its history, geology, activities, and wildlife.

Indiana Dunes National Park offers a wide range of activities for visitors of all ages and interests. The park has over 15 miles of sandy beaches, where visitors can swim, sunbathe, and play in the sand. The park also has several hiking trails that range from easy to difficult and offer stunning views of the dunes, forests, and lake. The park is also home to several campgrounds, where visitors can spend the night under the stars. Fishing, boating, and birdwatching are also popular activities in the park.

Indiana Dunes National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including over 350 species of birds. The park is also home to several endangered and threatened species, including the Indiana bat, eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, and eastern box turtle.

Visitors to the park may also encounter other wildlife such as white-tailed deer, foxes, coyotes, and raccoons.


While wrapping up the blog, we will say that Chicago is well-placed for having the best day trip. 

Living in a city with day-to-day office and routine feel monotonous and you will often feel to get out of it and have some break whether it is nature or a small town or just sitting beside a river or having some adventure.

Or else just want to have a long drive of 2-3 hours to some beautiful land where you simply sit in some old-style brewery shop and have a mug full of beer.

You will get all of it or a combination of it in the nearby destinations for which a 1-day trip is enough to travel and come back feeling fresh.

Stay careful and safe.

Thank You…

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