Metra trip
August 14, 2010 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Fun places to go on the Chicago-area commuter rail system?

I want to explore a new city, and I figured that it would be worth doing a day-trip from Chicago to one of the suburbs, via the Metra. What's a good, walkable, Metra-accessible city?
posted by LSK to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Would you be interested in camping or hiking? My husband and I took the Southshore line to the Indiana Dunes and camped. The area is right on the lake and accessible from the train by walking ~1 mile into the campground.
posted by aetg at 11:55 AM on August 14, 2010

I love walking around Evanston.
posted by kylej at 12:25 PM on August 14, 2010

Naperville is great. Beautiful Riverwalk, lots of great restaurants, lots of very nice stores. Perfect for a day trip.
posted by la petite marie at 12:48 PM on August 14, 2010

Seconding the Indiana Dunes.
posted by chicago2penn at 12:57 PM on August 14, 2010

Not exactly a day-trip, but I really like taking the train up to Ravinia. Get there early, have a picnic, and listen to the show. (A unique thing about concerts at Ravinia: there's no view of the stage to be had from the lawn area, hence no pressure to get a 'good view'. Makes for a very mellow concert-going experience. Plus you can drink as much as you want, since you're not driving.)
posted by Bron at 1:31 PM on August 14, 2010

nb South Shore‚ȆMetra but please don't let that stop you from visiting the Dunes. You also get to traverse the blighted wonders of the south side, Hammond, East Chicago, and Gary from the safety of the train.

Oak Park is really nice, too. I'm assuming it's accessible by Metra and hell maybe even the subway.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:57 PM on August 14, 2010

Hyde Park is accessible via bus, but the only rail transit that stops there is Metra. On my last visit I found strolling through the neighborhood and visiting the bookstores to be quite pleasant.
posted by armage at 5:25 PM on August 14, 2010

Geneva is a nice place to walk around, the town is all on the North side of the Metra Station.

The CTA runs trains too...

Evanston (mentioned above) is on the Purple line... during Rush hours it runs to the loop, otherwise you'll have to switch trains at Howard (it's just walking across the platform)

Oak Park is on the Green line. According to Wikipedia it's the closest station to the Frank Lloyd Wright home.

Google maps knows all about Chicago area transit, and can even give you directions based on them, and/or walking! 8)

Have fun!
posted by MikeWarot at 6:24 PM on August 14, 2010

Seconding Naperville.

Downers Grove has a very cool downtown area as well. It's also on the BNSF line - get off at Downers Grove Main Street.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:29 PM on August 14, 2010

Another thing about DG is that you can take in a cheap movie at a terrific deco movie house right at the station. The Tivoli Theatre is located directly across the tracks from the train station and runs $4 movies all the time. It is one of those grand 1920s theatres with an organ for preshow. It is nice when they run old b/w or early color movies there

The rest of DG is all right at the station too. Depending on the season, something may be going on in the train station parking lot or on Main Street.
posted by lampshade at 12:07 AM on August 15, 2010

Kenosha Wi is likely the best bet - you could easily spend the whole day up there just wandering around. Has a red lighthouse. And coffee shops. A little touristy. And STREETCARS.

A bit closer: Lake Forest & Highland Park are also decent.

North West: Union Pacific West Line
Best bet: Elmhurst which has a decent art museum (1 block south of station) & attractive downtown.

Glen Ellyn and Geneva may also fit into what you are looking for - Geneve is a bit more hiking.

Chicago Botanic Garden has a trolley $2 sundays otherwise #213 bus from the Glencoe Metra stop, bring a camera & tripod sort of adventure, or not & just walk to the gardens - the Skokie lagoons are pretty cools on the way.

West: BNSF

Brookfield - The zoo stop, which has a zoo, & the Irish times (brookfield stop) is a nice spot for a quick, if expensive, drink, & there's not much else downtown brookefield, so go for the zoo.

La Grange - cute downtown with a bunch of restaurants and ice cream shops. Has a cheep theater but the aforementioned Tivoli is really nice & this one isn't.

Downers Grove: previously noted, but lacks for decent food - good ice cream & pizza options.

Naperville: You didn't mention kids- but the DuPage Children's Museum is worth it, if you don't do anything else out there.

Flossmor Station restaurant & Brewpub is worth the trip - it's on the the Metra Electric District & is way south.

East: South Shore Line train is well covered above.
posted by zenon at 11:06 AM on August 15, 2010

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