21 Finest Day Journeys From Chicago In 2024


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

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 the town middle. 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 the town.

The town is ideally positioned with simple border-crossing into Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. Additionally it is an excellent place to begin for a day journey additional south into central Illinois. You will 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 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 potential, as Milwaukee is finest recognized for its breweries. Taking guided brewery excursions is likely one of the finest issues to do in Milwaukee. Except for its alcohol, although, additionally it is residence to the Holler Home and Milwaukee Artwork Museum. Don’t neglect 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 day trip 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. Additionally it is a breeze to succeed in by prepare or automobile.

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

Recommended 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 in case you are on the lookout for a extra sedate metropolis expertise. You’ll be able to go to the College of Notre Dame’s iconic campus, with its traditional gold-domed constructing. There’s additionally loads of native historical past you could expertise within the metropolis middle, like automobile 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. Nonetheless, it has a number of sights too. Consider it as a calming and mental place to spend a day sightseeing. It has a number of enjoyable and pupil twists, like low cost bars and low 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 suggest stopping off on the nationwide park en route.

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

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 main, 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 low outlets. Madison is your most suitable option in the event you fancy a political sightseeing day journey from Chicago.

Madison can also be superbly positioned subsequent to 2 large lakes – Lake Mendota and Lake Waubesa. Summer time leaves loads of alternatives for water sports activities and sunny waterfront mountaineering trails. Comply with this strolling 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 best 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 set of sandstone canyons amidst stunning forests. The canyons have been initially minimize 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 you can too 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 best way to get there: Automobile

5. Cedarburg, WI

Cedarburg has critical attraction. It has old-school-style homes and is ceaselessly 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 of 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 Effective 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’s best reached from Chicago by automobile, 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
  • The best 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 mountaineering 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 middle. Illinois Seashore State Park is someplace to spend a complete day. Begin with a hike and go to the character middle 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 excellent day journey when you’ve got a heat day or fancy a seaside journey. Or it’s the excellent journey in the event you fancy tenting an evening to interrupt up your traditional metropolis break.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1 hour
  • The best 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 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 simple to see why.

Admire Victorian historical past and Gilded Age structure, and go to the Lake Geneva seashores. Large 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 best 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 widespread sights and historic locations. You’ll be able to 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 also be sensible.

Rockford is positioned in northern Illinois, proper underneath the Wisconsin border. We’d suggest combining it with a visit to Madison, positioned 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 best way to get there: By automobile

9. Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park, IN

Day Trips from Chicago Indiana Dunes National Park IN

Neglect state parks in the event you like pure magnificence – intention huge with Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park. This beautiful park is excess of simply sand dunes and covers 15 miles of gorgeous shoreline excellent for swimming and sunbathing. Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park can also be a sizzling spot for hen watching and mountaineering. 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’ll 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 best 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 beautiful park sits simply off Milwaukee’s shoreline. Nonetheless, we’ll 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 take pleasure in 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 nicely mixed with a go to to Milwaukee. This little island state park is a wonderful spot close to the 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 best 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 enormous historical past of dairy farming that has given it an enormous cheese popularity. You’ll be able to go to to take meals excursions – extremely really useful – 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 middle, 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 positively finest accessed by automobile.

  • Distance from Chicago: 2 hours
  • The best 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 an excellent 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 carry a beautiful, vintage-style aesthetic to the town. A traditional pink and white lighthouse is close to the town’s North Pier.

St Joseph is a wonderful alternative if you need a kind of conventional seaside day journeys. It’s only a brief drive from Chicago, even supposing 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 improbable to mix with Indiana Dunes Nationwide Park and Michigan Metropolis.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1.5 hours
  • The best 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 among the most historic Illinois canals, housing a restored lock tender’s home for additional historic worth. You’ll be able to take pleasure in a community of mountaineering 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’s a nice day journey if you need 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 necessary a part of the state’s historical past. It’s a nature-given journey park.

  • Distance from Chicago: 50 minutes
  • The best 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 take pleasure in sights just like the Frank Lloyd Wright Dwelling and Studio, Ernest Hemingway’s Boyhood Dwelling, the Nationwide 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’s the excellent alternative if you need journeys from Chicago achieved simply.

It’s so helpful to leap on a prepare and be amongst dozens of museums. Moreover, its Unity Temple was lately 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 best way to get there: By prepare

Recommended 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 – suppose 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 recognized 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 just a few totally different stops en route.

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

16. Windmill Island Gardens, MI

Day Trips from chicago Windmill Island Gardens MI

Chicago could be generally known as ‘Windy Metropolis,’ however take a look at Windmill Island Gardens. This seasonal park incorporates a 250-year-old windmill in an ode to the 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 beautiful in spring.

This is likely one of the main day journeys from Chicago if you need 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, chopping by means of northern Indiana and throughout the Michigan border. Relating 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’ve got just a few drivers, you gained’t have any hassle as you’ll be able to simply rotate driving time.

  • Distance from Chicago: 2.5 hours
  • The best 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 residence to the Civil Battle Common Ulysses S. Grant, and his former house is a State Historic Web site. In fact, Ulysses S. Grant later grew to become a US president, so his story is immortalized. Galena is a good place to go to in case you are curious about politics and historical past. Its city middle is comparatively walkable and is stuffed 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 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 simple 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 prepare journey? You’ll be able to learn or nap and attain the town in lower than 2 hours. There’s a number 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 take pleasure in inner-city procuring at outlet shops. Michigan Metropolis provides hundreds 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 best way to get there: 1 hour by automobile or 2 hours by prepare

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 middle 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 – whats up, 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 only 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 fashion, you can too cease off at Starved Rock State Park on the way in which.

  • Distance from Chicago: 2.5 hours
  • The best 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 series of amusement parks scattered throughout the US. And there may be one on the outskirts of Chicago, creating one of the 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, attempt the sedate, family-friendly rides just like the Large Simple Balloons or Cubasco tea cups.

Everybody loves a enjoyable day trip. And Six Flags Nice America is the proper day journey to skip sightseeing and escape the town to take pleasure in 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 youngsters. Six Flags Nice America is positioned north of Chicago, just below the Wisconsin border. Get your tickets upfront right here.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1 to 2 hours
  • The best way to get there: 1 hour by automobile 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 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 e-book a horseback using tour. The park has a grand whole of 8 miles of shared-use trails, and also you’ll positively wish to carry a digicam.

Glacial Park Conservation Space opens from dawn till sundown all 12 months spherical. It’s superb if you wish to swap from the usual suburban park expertise to a little bit of rugged, distant nature.

  • Distance from Chicago: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • The best 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 an area brewery. Chicago’s location proper subsequent to 3 different state borders means you have got a number 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 have got not less than 5 or 6 day journey selections.

Are you on the lookout for extra inspiration? Why not take a look at our guides on the finest issues to do in Wisconsin and one of the best locations to go to in Michigan? We’ve additionally acquired notes on one of the best, 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. When you’ve got 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 successful high quality, and it is best to reap the benefits of it when planning day journeys and excursions.

Plan your journey to Chicago with these Sources