Car rental and camping near chicago.
July 14, 2010 2:42 PM   Subscribe

A question about renting a car and camping within 4 hours of Chicago.

So I need to get out of the city. I would like to sleep in a tent and spend most of the day sitting in a camp chair in a river drinking beer. I would like to cook over a fire. To do this I would like to rent a car and drive no more than 4 hours from Chicago. Since I plan on driving to the campground and parking the car until I drive back I was wondering if anybody knew of any rental companies that did lower day rates with a mileage cap or even a mileage fee. Also where should we go? Thanks
posted by Uncle to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Starved Rock state park is nice, there is a river, but not near the campgrounds, and alcohol is prohibited in the camp grounds.

I'm not sure how close to the river the camp grounds are at Turkey Run State Park in Indiana, but they do allow alcohol.

Don't forget the old standby, KOA.

Wow... I'm suddenly nostalgic for the great outdoors.
posted by MikeWarot at 3:00 PM on July 14, 2010

I can't speak to the car, but there is plenty of great camping within 4 hours of Chicago. Off the top of my head I can think of Indiana Dunes, Rock Cut State Park, Kettle Moraine, Starved Rock, and Chain O' Lakes State Park. All are within 2 hours of downtown.

What I can't think of is a state park that is likely to allow swimming outside of designated areas. Alcohol rules also vary, a complete list for Illinois state parks is here. You may have to find a private campground with river access.
posted by indyz at 3:04 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

You need to go to Michigan and sit on the beach and watch the sun SET on the lake. I suggest Grand Haven State Park, although there are alcohol restrictions. Don't know how strictly that is enforced.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 3:11 PM on July 14, 2010

There's always beautiful Zion and Illinois Beach State Park.

Alcohol allowed in camp grounds, great view of the Zion Nuclear Power Plant, I saw the northern lights there once.

There are rental car joints on Sheridan Road, just west of the camp grounds.

You would be about an hour and a half out of Chicago, warning, the worst of suburbia surrounds.
posted by Max Power at 4:05 PM on July 14, 2010

Kankakee River State Park with the lovely and hidden Rock Creek Canyon is nice. Bring mosquito spray, though.
posted by rw at 5:14 PM on July 14, 2010

Not just a great name, but Bong State Recreation Area (named for Dick Bong, WWII flying ace) is nice and has camping and fishing.

Also, the Alcohol rules state:
With a few exceptions, people of legal drinking age may bring alcoholic beverages along for their picnic or campsite meals in Wisconsin state parks and forests.

Just drive north on 94 and follow the signs.
posted by nightwood at 7:12 PM on July 14, 2010

I would suggest taking another hour or so and driving along lake michigan up to the u.p. I tried to go camping a few times along the lake in wisconsin, but most places were too tourist-y. r.v's and christmas lights and too many people.

the u.p. is the place to go.
posted by chicago2penn at 7:58 PM on July 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Most, if not all of the Illinois state parks have rules against drinking at your camp site, but strangely don't have rules against drinking at the drive-in picnic areas.
posted by garlic at 9:37 PM on July 14, 2010

Here's the list of where in IL state parks alcohol is banned. Chain o' lakes ban includes the campground. Illinois State Beach does not. Starved Rock also includes the campground.
posted by garlic at 9:40 PM on July 14, 2010

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