Six Flags Great America is Chicago’s largest amusement park, ranked amongst the top 20 most visited amusement parks in North America in 2017. The park opened to the public in 1976 features 9 themed areas, over 60 rides, live entertainment, dining options, events, and a 20-acre water park called Hurricane Harbour. It is the perfect place to have a splash with family and friends.
Address- 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, IL 60031
Open Hours- Sunday to Thursday
Park: 10:30am to 9:00pm
Friday & Saturday
Park: 10:30am to 10:00pm
Waterpark: 11:00am to 6:00pm
Best Time to visit- Weekdays in May.
Distance from Chicago- 45.5 miles
Parking- USD 26
Activities to do- Thrill rides ( Bourbon Street Fireball), Roller coaster rides, Water Rides, Haunted House during Fright Fest.
How to reach- Drive or rent a car, Metra to Waukegan station and then take a bus to the Amusement park.
Cedarburg located approximately 2 hours away from Chicago, is a city in Ozaukee County. The City, characterized by its preserved structures of more than 200 limestone buildings and the meandering creek paints a charming scenic atmosphere for visitors to stroll around, grab a bite, and indulge in the history and culture of the place.
Distance from Chicago - 112.5 miles
Places to visit - Cedar Creek Winery, Wisconsin Museum of Quilts& Fiber Arts, Ozaukee Interurban Trail, Chiselled Grape Winery, Cedarburg Art Museum.
Dining Options - Tomaso’s, Cream & Crepe Cafe, PJ Piper Pancake House, Le’s Pho, Farmstead.
Vermillion River, Oglesby is a paradise for those who enjoy water activities. Here, you can rent a fun yak and rafting supplies at a charge and enjoy whitewater rafting. There are about 14 sets of rapids available in classifies 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s - perfect for beginners and kids. It also has numerous eddies, slack pools, deep holes and rocky shorelines which makes the river extremely favorable for Fishing.
Best time to visit - May to Mid July
Activities to do - Fishing, Sightseeing, Kayaking.
Lodge Options - Baldwin House, Starved Rock Inn, Three Roses Bed and Breakfast
Distance from Chicago - 100 miles.
North Utica also just known as Utica, is a village in Utica Township. From Chicago, it would take under 2 hours to reach Utica. It is abundant in terms of natural beauty and most of the resources - hills, rivers, and forests are untouched making it the perfect eco- touristic spot to indulge in a healing experience away from the noise of the city.
Distance from Chicago - 93 miles
Places to Visit - Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park, The Rock and Soul, LaSalle County Historical Society & Museum,
Activities to do - Camping, Hiking at Starved Rock State Park, Picnic at Matthiessen State Park, Paddlewheel boat tour at Belle of the Rock.
Holland situated near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, is world-famous for its Tulip Festival. From Chicago, the trip to Holland would take under 3 hours. It is the perfect place to enjoy and experience Dutch Culture from the architecture downtown, the delicacies found in local shops, Niels’ Dutch Village, learning Klompen dance to the Dutch Winterfest and Tulip Time Festival in Spring.
Distance from Chicago - 149.6 miles
To do Activities - Tulip time festival, a tour of the modern college campus, sail on Lake Michigan, hiking, Dutch Winterfest, Veldheer Tulip Farm, the Dutch art collection at Holland Museum.
Dining Options - Butch’s Dry Dock, Salt & Pepper Savory Grill and Pub, deBoer Bakkerij Rsetraunt.
Indianapolis Zoo triple credited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the American Alliance of Museums - houses more than 1,200 animals amd 47,000 plant specimens. It features both indoor & outdoor animal habitats and aims to empower people and communities, both locally and globally to participate actively in animal conservation.
Address - 1200 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46222
Open Hours - 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Suggested Duration - 4 hours
Distance from Chicago - 185 miles
Parking - Members - Free
Non Members - USD 8
Large Vehicles - USD 16
Exhibits - Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center, Flights of Fancy, Plains, Deserts, Marine Mammals, Oceans, Forest, Commons,
Brookfield Zoo houses more than 20,000 animals, a must-see for animal lovers. The zoo is organized into distinct habitats and exhibits that highlight the conservational history of each. It also organizes a variety of family play programs, offers event booking, and volunteer opportunities where you can adopt your favorite animals and help in their care.
Address - 8400 W 31st St, Brookfield, IL 60513
Open Hour - 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry Fee - Adult - USD 24.95
Seniors - USD 19.95
Children ( Ages 3 to 11) - USD 17.95
Ages 2 and Under - Free
Distance from Chicago - 13.2 miles
Parking - ( Both North gate and South Gate)
Cars - USD 15
Buses - USD 21
Exhibits - Australia House, Animal Ambassadors, Big Cats, Desert’s Edge, Feathers & Scale, Great Bear Wilderness, Habitat Africa! The Savannah, Pachyderm House, Pinniped Point, Tropic world, and much more.
Located around an hour and 30 mins away from Chicago, Milwaukee - once known as the beer capital houses over 30 breweries. The city hosted three of the biggest name in beer: Federick Miller, Joseph Schlitz, Federick Pabst, and earned the tag of the Beer capital. Although this may all be history, we can still find amazing modern-day craft breweries in Milwaukee. Here, visitors can discover some top-notch beers, get a taste of the local ingredients, and innovative ales.
Distance from Chicago - 92.4 miles
Breweries - Eagle Park Brewing, Third Space Brewing, Good City Brewing, 1840 Brewing Co, Hacienda Beer Co, Lakefront Brewery.
Apple River Canyon State Park spanning up to 1,907 acres was established in 1932 by the State of Illinois, preserving the deep canyon formed by the Apple River. The area is characterized by limestone bluffs, deep ravines, springs, streams, and tons of wildlife. It also features five trails, camping sites, four picnic areas with tables, grills, accessible drinking water; and visitors can also enjoy fishing on the Apple River. Located just 2 hours and 21 mins away from Chicago, it is one of the best spots to indulge in outdoor activities.
Address - 8763 E Canyon Rd, Apple River, IL 61001
Open Hours - 24 hours
Entry Fee - Free
Best Time to Visit - Fall
Distance from Chicago - 144.6 miles (2hr 21 min)
Parking - Available
Activities to do - Camping, picnics, hiking, fishing, Kayaking, Wildlife watching, hunting.
Kankakee River State Park located just an hour away from Chicago is a 4000- acre park enclosed by the Kankakee river on both sides. It offers a wide range of outdoor activities from hiking, cycling, fishing, hunting, camping to even winter sports. Visitors can find fishes like Channel Catfish, Walleye, and Smallmouth Bass. The park has beautiful landscapes and is rich with heritage and historical significance with many Native American tribes that used to live and hunt along the Kankakee River.
Address - 5314 W. Rt. 102, Bourbonnais, IL 60914, USA
Opening Hours - Open year-round
Best Time to Visit - All year
Distance from Chicago - 57.8 miles
Parking - Free
Activities to do - Kayaking, Fishing, Boating, Cycling, Hiking, Walking, RV Camping, Cross Country Skiing, Archery
How to Reach - Driving a car/ private vehicle is highly recommended. You can also take public transport like Bus no. 4819 and 1163 from Chicago to Kankakee II and then a taxi to the state park.
Restrictions - Swimming is not allowed because of the strong current, Camping is allowed only on Campgrounds.
Starved Rock State Park is a historic landmark, also voted as the # 1 Attraction in the state of Illinois. It is approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes away from Chicago - a perfect getaway from the city to nature. Here, you can enjoy the extraordinary views of the canyons, the waterfalls and explore them too. Other than these you can also enjoy activities such as Hiking ( 13 miles of trail) and fishing on the Illinois river ( Ice fishing in winter).
Address : 2678 E 875th Rd, Oglesby, IL 61348
Open Hours : 8:30 AM to 10:00 PM
Entrance Fee : Free
Best Time to visit : Fall
Distance from Chicago : 94.3 miles
Public Transport : Take a Train till Mendota Amtrak Station, then catch a taxi
Activities to do : Hiking, Explore the Canyons, Take a Ghost tour, spend a night at the historic Starved Rock Lodge.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is the largest and one of the most visited Presidential Libraries. It is dedicated to the study of the American civil war and the life of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. President. The Museum houses life-size models, state of art full immersion exhibits, and also original artifacts and personal belongings of Lincoln. From, Chicago it would take approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to reach the museum - it is the perfect place to unwind and learn more about the past - with its interactive technologies that bring the history of the 19th Century to life.
Address - 212 N 6th St, Springfield, IL 62701
Open Hours - Museum - 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Library - Monday to Friday - 9:00 AM to 4:30 AM
Entry Fee - Museum - Adults - USD 15
Senior (65+) - USD 12
Military - USD 10
Children ( 5 - 15 years of Age) - USD 6
Ages 4 and below - Free
Library - Free
Suggested Duration - 2 to 3 hours
Distance from Chicago - 201. 7 miles.
Pets - not allowed, except service animals
Parking - available
Exhibits - The Journey - Part I and Part II, take your picture with the Lincoln Family.
The South Bend History Museum, also known as the History Museum was initiated in 1867 by the Northern Indiana Historical Society - the second oldest historical society in Indiana. Located just an hour and 38 mins from Chicago, the highlight of the museum is the stately Victorian mansion with original furnishings and woodworks; which is connected to the Studebaker National Museum. It also houses a children’s museum, various exhibits and a gallery of Shakespearean culture at Notre Dame.
Address - 808 W Washington St, South Bend, IN 46601
Open Hours - Monday to Saturday - 10:00 Am to 5:00 PM
Sunday - 12:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry Fee- Adult - USD 10 to USD 15
Senior (65+) - USD 8.50 to USD 12
Youth - USD 6 to USD 8
Children under Ages 5 and under - Free
Suggested Duration- 3 to 4 hour
Distance from Chicago- 88.9 miles
Wheelchair - Accessible
Parking - Available
Exhibits - Oliver Mansion ( Studebaker National Museum), Full Circle: Shakespearean Culture at Notre Dame, Votes for Women, All-American Girls Professional Baseball League .
Chicago Botanic Gardens located just 27 mins away from Chicago, is a 385-acre living plant museum where you can experience the changing seasons throughout the year. It features 27 gardens and four natural areas - prairie, woods, and 81 acres of water. Other than this, through its tram tour, it offers a panoramic and intimate view of the gardens and organizes fun-filled activities for kids and families.
Address - 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL 60022
Open Hours - Monday to Sunday - 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Entry Fee - Free
Best time to visit - Any time/season throughout the years
Distance from Chicago- 24.6 miles ( 27 min)
Parking - Residents - Weekdays - USD 20
Weekend - USD 25
Non Residents - Weekdays - USD 25
Weekend - USD 30
Pets - No pets, except for service animals
Wheelchair - Accessible (on Tram tours)
Activities to do - Explore the landscape & nature and wildlife, Seasonal Bingo, Discovery Backpack, Dancin’ Sprouts, Bird Behavior Scavenger Hunt, Fun with mud, Arts & Craft.
Indiana Dunes National Park located approximately 56 mins away from Chicago stretches over 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Its sandy shores, rugged dunes, mysterious wetlands, and peaceful forests promise solitude and adventure at the same time. Visitors can come here to relax by themselves or with their family and friends - there’s something for everyone here.
Address - 1050 N Mineral Springs Rd, Chesterton, IN 46301
Open Hours - Monday to Sunday - 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Entry fee - In-state vehicle - USD 7
Out-of-state- vehicle - USD 12
Free on weekdays between November and mid - April.
Best time to visit - Late September through October ( mid -October)
Distance from Chicago - 47.1 miles
Pets - not allowed on the beach, on other parts of the beach - they are allowed on a leash.
Parking - Free ( Except for West Beach - USD 6 per vehicle & USD 30 per Bus)
Activities to do - Hiking, Biking, Bird watching, swimming and sunbathing, Camping, Fishing, the 3 dune challenge, skiing & snowshoeing in winters.
Cantigny Park is located just 36 minutes away from Chicago is the perfect gateway to enjoy outdoor activities with family and friends. It is equipped with gardens, museums, picnic areas, hiking trails, and a Golf course. Other than these, they also offer educational opportunities, dining options, guided events or visitors can create their own unique adventure too.
Address - 1 S 151 Winfield Road, Wheaton, IL 60189
Open Hours - 9:00 am to Sunset ( within capacity limits)
Entry fee - Free
Distance from Chicago - 33.6 miles
Pets - Not allowed ( except for Walk your Dog in park day - one-day special event)
Dogs must be kept on a leash.
Parking Fees - USD 5/per car to USD 80 for Large buses.
Activities to do - Golf, Hiking, Museum, picnic, Nature walks, Tank Park, Red Oaks Farm Playground.
Anderson Japanese Gardens has been rated as one of the highest quality and revered Japanese gardens in North America for over a decade now. It houses a twelve-acre landscape of streams, mesmerizing waterfalls, winding pathways, and koi-filled ponds. Located an hour and 21 mins away from Chicago, Anderson Gardens promises a healing experience with world-class quality exhibits, cultural programming, and special events.
Address - 318 Spring Creek Rd, Rockford, IL 61107
Open Hours - May 1st through October 31st
Monday to Friday - 9:00 Am to 6:00 PM
Saturday to Sunday - 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Entry fee - Adults - USD 11
Seniors - USD 10
Students and Military - USD 9
Children Ages 5 and under - Free
Best Time to Visit - Spring and Fall
Distance from Chicago - 85.4 miles
Parking - Free
Activities to do - Have Brunch at Fresco at Gardens, take the Frank Lloyd Wright meets 16th century Japan tour, Visit the tea house, Dancing in the Garden, Yoga & Pilates, Tai Chi, Meditation, Kids Cultural class.
Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens is the third largest conservatory in Illinois with a plant exhibit area spanning up to 11,000 square feet in size. From Chicago, it would take approximately an hour and 40 mins to reach the Conservatory. It houses various exhibits and organizes events via which the visitors can enjoy the experience of the tropics in the Midwest.
Address - 1354 N 2nd St, Rockford, IL 61107
Open Hours - Tuesday to Saturday - 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Rate - Residents - Adults: USD 7
Seniors (65+) , Veterans, Ages 5 - 7: USD 5
Ages 3-4: USD 3
Non Residents - Adults: USD 9
Seniors (65+) , Veterans, Ages 5 - 7: USD 7
Ages 3-4: USD 4
Free for ages 2 and under.
Distance from Chicago - 85.3 miles
Parking - Available ( additional parking YMCA)
Activities to do - Activity Boxes, Simply Spring: Butterfly Exhibit, Tunes on the terrace, Whiskey on Rocks, Wine & Roses.
Lake Geneva, located just an hour and 29 minutes away from Chicago is the perfect gateway to unwind and relax. Visitors can go for a swim or enjoy watersports on one of the beaches on the seven-mile stretch of the lake. They can also enjoy the sight of the stately lakefront summer mansions on restored historic yachts and replicas of paddlewheel steamers. Other than these you can also visit the Geneva Lake Museum, Lake Geneva Public library, or explore the hiking trails. In winter, visitors can also head up to Mountain Top and experience skating, ice boating, sleigh rides, and much more.
Address - 201 Wrigley Drive, Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Admission Hour - 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Best Time to Visit - July - August
Distance from Chicago - 83 miles
Parking - available
Activities to do - Geneva Lake Museum, Boating, Kayaking or Paddle Boarding on Lake Geneva, Skiing, skating, sleigh rides.
The Morton Arboretum approximately located 20 minutes away from Chicago, is an internationally recognized outdoor tree museum, research & conservatory center. Here, based on the time of the year of your visit, you can enjoy and experience the ever-changing seasons. The arboretum houses a variety of exhibits such as the Tree lights exhibit and organizes interesting events such as the dog admission day (where you can hile through the trails with your pet) throughout the year.
Admission Fee : Free (Timed admission tickets to be booked beforehand)
Best Time to visit : Fall ( Peak Fall color Viewing)
Distance from Chicago : 25.7 miles
Parking : Free Parking
Closest Station : Metra train Station in Lisle ( Burlington Northern Stop)
Activities to do : Hiking, Visit the Outdoor Museum and the Children’s Garden, Tree lights exhibit, Sterling Morton Library, plan an event.
If there is anything we missed out on, do mention it in the comments below