Chicago is the greatest city in the world, but sometimes you still just want to get out of town. But sometimes you just don’t have the luxury of taking a week off work and hopping on a plane to somewhere exotic. Fortunately, there are places within a couple of hours of the Windy City that offer something completely different than your everyday experience. Take a mini-vacation with these four top day trips less than 2 hours from Chicago.
Milwaukee is a quick drive up I-94. It takes just an hour and a half to get to Mil-Town, so you won’t have to spend too long in the car. Once you’re there, you’ll be blown away by the incredible craft beer scene with lots of great microbreweries. For many years, Milwaukee was known as the beer capital of the world, and it was well earned. Why else would they name a major sports team the Brewers? Dining is also top-notch, and you won’t want to miss the Harley Davidson Museum. You’ll recognize the Milwaukee Art Museum as soon as you see it, with its swirling spires and silhouette like a futuristic sailing ship. And festival fans will love Summerfest, the world’s biggest music fest.
Starved Rock State Park
If you’re into hiking, Starved Rock State Park has some of the best trails within a few hours of Chicago. This natural wonderland is carved out by the Illinois River and features soaring bluffs and cascading waterfalls. You can also go fishing, boating, and camping. There are thirteen miles of trails to satisfy your outdoorsy itch. After you’ve worked up a good appetite, visit The Lodge for some lunch or late-afternoon snacks overlooking the river.
Also in Indiana is a treasure known as the Indiana Dunes. There are 15 miles of beaches and more than 50 miles of trails. You can even see the Chicago skyline from West Beach! Carl Sandburg, the author of the famous kids’ book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, was a huge fan of the Indiana Dunes. He once wrote “The Dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and Yosemite is to California.” Here, you can see one of the oldest lighthouses built on Lake Michigan, and getting there couldn’t be easier. You can take the South Shore line directly there.