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day trip chicago

10 Awesome Day Trips from Chicago, Illinois (Our Home City)

PreParture was born in Chicago in 2016. Chicago is such a wonderful city to live, hence why it features in many of our travel blogs, for example, our most recent ´A Winter Guide to Chicago. ´ While it remains a city packed full of things to do, there are also some great destinations nearby to venture to also.

If you have the time, take a day trip out of the city and experience some of Illinois´, and neighbouring states other places. Not sure where? We are sharing our favourite 10 destinations to visit outside of Chicago.


Day Trip #1 Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Situated just 95 minutes from Chicago, Starved Rock State Park provides a great outdoor experience for everyone. It has a variety of hiking trails, most will feature a beautiful canyon, which is what the park is famous for. If you´re not sure whether to visit, know that it was voted the best attraction in Illinois!

Visit Starved Rock State Park Official site for more info.

Day Trip #2 Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee is famous for two reasons, beer and baseball, hence its nickname The Brew City!

Baseball season is from the end of March until the end of September, so you may need to plan accordingly. To find out when the Milwaukee Brewers are playing click here. For brewery tours to learn about the many beers that are produced in Milwaukee, check out Trip Advisors Top 10 Milwaukee Brewers.

If you aren´t interested in baseball or beer, then you´ll want to visit Milwaukee´s historical and cultural attractions, such as Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory and Milwaukee Public museum for a good time.

Milwaukee is 1 hour and 50 minutes from Chicago by car.


Day Trip #3 Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Lake Geneva is so beautiful you may want to turn this day trip into an overnighter, especially if you love water sports or simply enjoy resting on a boat while watching the world go by. Kayaking and paddle boarding are available to those wanting to get wet! If you prefer to stay on dry land there are plenty of historical sites to admire and tasty food to eat.

Lake Geneva is 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Chicago.


Day Trip #4 Indianapolis, Indiana

If you are wanting to combine another city adventure into your Chicago trip consider Indianapolis, which is just over 3 hours drive away. Like Chicago, Indianapolis has it all – places to walk and bike, music venues, museums, shops, outdoor spaces and art. It also has a great nightlife!

For more specific ‘things to do’ and advice about visiting Indianapolis, check out the official website, 


Day Trip #5 Devils Lake State Park, Wisconsin

There is plenty to do in Devils Lake, such as a hike and bike around the woodlands, visit the historic Fort Totten and then fish in the wetlands. In addition, the Lake Region Heritage Center and Sullys Hill are both great ways to spend your time as together they include nature and history.

While it takes 3 hours and 36 minutes to get to Devils Lakes State Park, on the way you pass Rockford and Madison, so this could turn into an epic adventure.


Day Trip #6 Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

Relax with a beach day, just 60 minutes from Chicago. You´re sure to find the perfect spot along the 15 miles of beach. Be sure to leave time to play in the famous sand dunes and explore some of the 50 miles of trails.


Day Trip #7 Madison, Wisconsin

If you love art, Madison is a great place to visit. Madison, Wisconsin, is home to the Chazen Museum of Art and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition, there are plenty of excellent restaurants to satisfy any cravings you may have and if that wasn´t enough they also have the Olbrich Botanic Gardens. Madison is 2 hours and 35 minutes from Chicago.


Day Trip #8 Catigny Park

For any golf lover, you must visit Catigney Park, which is only a 40 minute drive from Chicago, where you can spend the day playing golf, and it has 23 holes! Its also a great place for a picnic.


Day Trip #9 Holland, Michigan

Add some Dutch to your American adventure with a visit to Michigan´s Holland. The best time to visit is in May to enjoy the epic Tulip Time Festival. Holland is 2 hours and 30 minutes from Chicago, and is well worth the trip.


Day Trip #10 Anderson Japanese Gardens, Illinois

The tranquil and enchanting Anderson Japanese Gardens are 1 hour 40 minutes from Chicago. It is open until 6pm on weekdays and 5pm at the weekend. It is claimed that a visit here will ´energize the soul and inspire the mind.´ You can expect streams, waterfalls, ponds and pathways as you explore the 12 acre landscape.


Which day trip location takes your fancy? Did we miss your favourite day trip from Chicago? If so, leave your comments below. We´d love to expand this list so that other PreParture users have more knowledge of Chicago´s surrounding treasures.

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