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21 Greatest Day Journeys From Chicago In 2024

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Welcome to the Windy Metropolis! Whether or not a neighborhood or a traveler desperate to discover past the skyline, our information to the very best day journeys from Chicago is your ticket to journey. We’ll present you the way 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!

Unimaginable Day Journeys from Chicago

Top Day Trips from Chicago

On this information, we provide you with 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 town heart. After exploring the entire superior issues to do in Chicago, from the Chicago River to historic landmarks, head to those improbable locations positioned inside simple attain of town.

The town is ideally positioned with simple border-crossing into Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. It’s also an ideal start line for a day journey additional south into central Illinois. You’ve got 4 states at your fingertips – so it’s best to carve out time for a day journey whereas visiting.

1. Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee is a giant deal. This main metropolis is positioned on the shores of western Lake Michigan in Wisconsin – only a 1.5 hour practice experience or drive north of Chicago. We’d counsel catching the practice if doable, as Milwaukee is finest identified for its breweries. Taking guided brewery excursions is likely one of the finest issues to do in Milwaukee. Apart from its alcohol, although, additionally it is house to the Holler Home and Milwaukee Artwork Museum. Don’t overlook the Harley-Davidson Museum, which hosts a wonderful show of bikes and paperwork iconic biker tradition. The Milwaukee Public Museum additionally has a large-scale European village.

If you need a improbable time out from Chicago, Milwaukee is good. It has a powerful sense of tradition and plenty of area of interest pockets of curiosity, like Harley-Davidson bikes and breweries. It’s also a breeze to succeed in by practice or automobile.

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

Urged Tour: A Group Tour to Uncover Milwaukee

2. South Bend, IN

Day Trips from Chicago South Bend IL

South Bend has a unique vibe as a college metropolis on the St. Joseph River. It’s improbable if you’re in search of a extra sedate metropolis expertise. You’ll be able to go to the College of Notre Dame’s iconic campus, with its basic gold-domed constructing. There’s additionally loads of native historical past that you could expertise within the metropolis heart, like automobile manufacturing from years passed by at Studebaker Nationwide Museum and the regional historical past on the Historical past Museum.

South Bend is certainly slower-paced than quick-footed Chicago. Nonetheless, it has a lot of sights too. Consider 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 occasional spots.

The town is positioned 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 automobile, and we’d advocate stopping off on the nationwide park en route.

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

3. Madison, WI

Day Trips from Chicago Madison IL

Small Madison won’t appear capital-worthy, however it’s really the capital metropolis of Wisconsin, not the key, sprawling big of Milwaukee. This smaller metropolis has stunning structure galore. You’ll be able to stand up near the historic domed Wisconsin State Capitol and stroll the Capital Metropolis State Path to sightsee totally different metropolis sights. There’s a botanic backyard expertise, too, at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, plus a quirkier downtown space with bars and occasional outlets. Madison is your most suitable option if you happen to fancy a political sightseeing day journey from Chicago.

Madison can also be fantastically positioned 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. Comply with 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
  • The right way to get there: By automobile or shuttle bus

4. Starved Rock State Park, IL

Day Trips from Chicago Starved Rock State Park IL

Starved Rock State Park is likely one of the hottest sights in Illinois. The park sits on the banks of the Illinois River and holds a group of sandstone canyons amidst stunning 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 at the present time journey alternative. Not solely is the pure surroundings astounding, however you too can 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 positioned inland from Chicago and Lake Michigan.

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

5. Cedarburg, WI

Cedarburg has severe attraction. 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’ll be able to stroll the vineyards and tour brewing rooms or head to distinctive sights just like the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fantastic 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 heart. It’s best reached from Chicago by automobile, 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
  • The right way to get there: By automobile

6. Illinois Seashore State Park, IL

Day Trips from Chicago Illinois Beach State Park IL

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

It has campgrounds and playgrounds, plus bathe blocks and a nature heart. Illinois Seashore State Park is someplace to spend a whole day. Begin with a hike and go to the character heart earlier than heading to Isherwood Seashore, 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 automobile. It’s an ideal day journey when you have a heat day or fancy a seaside journey. Or it’s the good journey if you happen to fancy tenting an evening to interrupt up your basic metropolis break.

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

7. Lake Geneva, WI

Day Trips from Chicago Lake Geneva WI

Lake Geneva is a wonderful 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 automobile.

When 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. Traditionally, 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. Huge Foot Seashore State Park has sensible seashores, particularly for a lazy afternoon. Lake Geneva is a wonderful day journey vacation spot to unwind earlier than revisiting Chicago’s chaotic sightseeing scene.

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

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 Metropolis’. Rockford can also be known 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 stuffed with in style sights and historic locations. You’ll be able to cease by the koi-filled ponds at Anderson Japanese Gardens, sit back in quite a few public parks, or head to the Rockford Artwork Museum. Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens can also be sensible.

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

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

9. Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park, IN

Day Trips from Chicago Indiana Dunes National Park IN

Neglect state parks if you happen to like pure magnificence – purpose huge with Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park. This gorgeous park is excess of simply sand dunes and covers 15 miles of gorgeous shoreline good for swimming and sunbathing. Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park can also be a scorching spot for chook watching and mountain climbing. The nationwide park is positioned 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 may spend the entire day exploring the park.

Indiana Dunes Nationwide 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
  • The right way to get there: By automobile

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 are going to embody it as a standalone attraction because it justifies a go to by itself benefit. Lakeshore State Park is finest explored on foot by strolling the Hank Aaron State Path. You’ll be able to 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 nicely mixed with a go to to Milwaukee. This little island state park is a wonderful spot close to town. It’s positioned off the Historic Third Ward and accessible by a pedestrianized bridge connecting it to the mainland.

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

11. Monroe, WI

Monroe is fairly cool. The quirky metropolis is called the Swiss cheese capital. It has an unlimited historical past of dairy farming that has given it an enormous cheese repute. You’ll be able to go to to take meals excursions – extremely really helpful – and take a look at native merchandise and produce. You must go to the Nationwide Historic Cheese Making Heart 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 heart, surrounded by outlets and aesthetic surroundings.

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

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

12. St. Joseph, MI

Day Trips from Chicago St Joseph MI

St Joseph is a scenic coastal metropolis in southwest Michigan and a really 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 sights like Silver Seashore County Park and Lions Park Seashore. Silver Seashore is especially cute to go to, with a 1910 carousel and restored pavilion that deliver an exquisite, vintage-style aesthetic to town. A basic crimson and white lighthouse is close to town’s North Pier.

St Joseph is a wonderful alternative if you’d like a kind of conventional seaside day journeys. It’s only 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’s improbable to mix with Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park and Michigan Metropolis.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours
  • The right 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 few of the most historic Illinois canals, housing a restored lock tender’s home for further historic worth. You’ll be able to get pleasure from a community of mountain climbing trails with waterfalls, birds, and historic towpaths to snap pictures of. Distance isn’t a difficulty 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’ll be able to 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 Nationwide Heritage Hall. It’s broadly hailed as a vital a part of the state’s historical past. It’s a nature-given journey park.

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

14. Oak Park, IL

Day Trips from chicago Oak Park IL

Oak Park is a wonderful village within the suburbs of Chicago. It actually packs a punch past fairly structure for such a small space. Guests can get pleasure from sights just like the Frank Lloyd Wright House and Studio, Ernest Hemingway’s Boyhood House, the Nationwide Historic Landmark of Mills Park and the Oak Park River Forest Museum. Oak Park is a quickfire collection 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 useful to leap on a practice 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 sights and choices, Oak Park may be very a lot up and coming by way of customer recognition and worth for tourism.

  • Distance from Chicago: 15 to twenty minutes
  • The right way to get there: By practice

Urged Tour: Personal Frank Lloyd Wright Tour from Chicago

15. Grand Rapids, MI

Day Trips from chicago Grand Rapids MI

Grand Rapids is one other main metropolis – assume skyscrapers and a wonderful 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 wish to catch a shuttle to Grand Rapids, because it has an illustrious brewery historical past. Particularly, it’s identified for New Holland Brewing, and you may take guided tasting excursions on the native breweries which are nonetheless working. In any other case, driving is faster, and you may 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 number of totally different stops en route.

  • Distance from Chicago: 3 to five hours
  • The right way to get there: By automobile in slightly below 3 hours or by shuttle in beneath 4
  • Urged Tour: Grand Rapids Ghost Tour

16. Windmill Island Gardens, MI

Day Trips from chicago Windmill Island Gardens MI

Chicago is likely to be generally known as ‘Windy Metropolis,’ however take a look at Windmill Island Gardens. This seasonal park contains a 250-year-old windmill in an ode to town’s Dutch affect. You’ll be able to 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 likely 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 way of northern Indiana and throughout the Michigan border. With regards to visiting Michigan, distance is usually a concern. Is it an extended day of driving? Sure. However it’s extremely scenic and an effective way to mix a number of sights. When you have a number of drivers, you gained’t have any hassle as you possibly can simply rotate driving time.

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

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 house to the Civil Battle Basic Ulysses S. Grant, and his former house is a State Historic Web site. 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 concerned with politics and historical past. Its city heart is comparatively walkable and is stuffed 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’s a fabulous add-on from Rockford or Starved Rock State Park, round 1.5 hours away by automobile.

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 need a straightforward journey from Chicago, Michigan Metropolis is it. Fancy a drive? You’ll be able to drive there in an hour, passing Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park. Fancy a practice experience? You’ll be able to 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 Seashore.

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 get pleasure from inner-city purchasing at outlet shops. Michigan Metropolis gives masses and, on the very least, is a change of scene.

You’ll be able to simply go to Michigan Metropolis; correct day-long journeys are low on journey time and excessive on sights. And that sums up this lakeside metropolis.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1 to 2 hours
  • The right way to get there: 1 hour by automobile or 2 hours by practice

19. Peoria, IL

Day Trips from chicago Peoria IL

Peoria is a wonderful 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’s positioned a lot additional inland in central Illinois. It’s simply an hour or so additional central than Starved Rock State Park – hi there, 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 beautiful 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 town is positioned southwest of Chicago and is finest accessed by automobile. This manner, you too can cease off at Starved Rock State Park on the way in which.

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

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 sequence of amusement parks scattered throughout the US. And there’s 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 may get adrenaline on rides like Sky Striker or the American Eagle. Alternatively, strive the sedate, family-friendly rides just like the Huge 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 town to get pleasure from some high quality ‘enjoyable’ time. It’s the superb 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 positioned north of Chicago, slightly below the Wisconsin border. Get your tickets prematurely right here.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1 to 2 hours
  • The right way to get there: 1 hour by automobile or 2 hours by practice 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 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’ll be able to discover Glacial Park on foot or by water or shake issues up and guide a horseback using tour. The park has a grand whole of 8 miles of shared-use trails, and also you’ll undoubtedly wish to deliver a digicam.

Glacial Park Conservation Space opens from dawn till sundown all yr spherical. It’s superb 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 right way to get there: By automobile

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 using water park rides at Six Flags America. You’ll be able to embrace small-town attraction at Oglesby, pure magnificence and pure wonders at Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park, or craft beer at a neighborhood brewery. Chicago’s location proper subsequent to 3 different state borders means you’ve a lot of variety when selecting day journeys. And the ever-presence of gorgeous Lake Michigan means a relentless barrage of water sports activities and seashores. Hopefully, you’ve no less than 5 or 6 day journey selections.

Are you in search of extra inspiration? Why not take a look at our guides on the finest issues to do in Wisconsin and the very best locations to go to in Michigan? We’ve additionally obtained notes on the very best, most distinctive issues to do in Northern Michigan particularly, so test that out when you have time so as to add a few days to the top of your Chicago journey. When 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’s best to reap the benefits of it when planning day journeys and excursions.

Plan your journey to Chicago with these Sources


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