In search of ideas for a mini-honeymoon in mid-October near Chicago
July 11, 2013 6:33 PM   Subscribe

We're getting hitched Oct. 19th in Chicago and only have time for two nights somewhere within 4-5 hours driving distance. Please help us think of somewhere autumn/honeymoon appropriate to go!

The only place that comes to mind is Lake Geneva or Door Co. Wisconsin. While these are nice (I've never been to either, only heard they're nice), they both seem better fits for a summer jaunt. Are these still our best options, or can you think of any other ideas? We enjoy hiking (but not camping, at least for a honeymoon), art, music, good restaurants, and the excuse to splurge on a nice room.
posted by shrimpsmalls to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if either of these would really fit the bill, but have you considered Starved Rock State Park or Galena, IL?
posted by avocado_of_merriment at 6:40 PM on July 11, 2013

Response by poster: Forgot to mention, we've done starved rock for a day hike. It's beautiful, so it's still a possibility but we were hoping for something new maybe. I'll look at Galena. I've also heard it's a cute place.
posted by shrimpsmalls at 6:44 PM on July 11, 2013

Mansion Hill Inn. Madison has good food and arts, and lots of nature stuff nearby. Also, Trek owns the hotel and has bikes for you to use.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:53 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Southern Indiana can be great for fall trips. West Baden Springs Hotel near French Lick may fit the bill if you want something rather extravagant.

For hiking and a nice lodge, there is Brown County State Park, with other hotels in nearby in the artsy town of Nashville (Indiana) or in Bloomington. Bloomington is a college town, so there may be interesting cultural events going on that weekend.

Story Inn is also a nice Brown County option and has a good restaurant on site. Some of the older rooms are a bit rustic and have a cobweb here or there because it's tough to seal the old buildings, but the Garrison Cabin is nearly new. We stayed in the Gunflint Room once and really enjoyed it (lots of cedar in the room, though, so if you don't like the smell of cedar, don't stay in that room).

Turkey Run Inn (caution--autoplay) is another great place to hike, and the inn is neat. It's an old inn, so some of the rooms are pretty small. It's also normally *very* busy during October because so many people go to look at leaves and the covered bridges in Parke County. Your dates may coincide with the Covered Bridge Festival, so rooms may be sold out over the weekend already.

Those are my picks for you if you want to head south instead of north!
posted by BlooPen at 7:15 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

A trip up the coast of Lake Michigan (on the Michigan side), lots of nice B&B's along there.
posted by HuronBob at 7:26 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'll second both the Michigan coast of Lake Michigan and Brown County, Indiana. Both are fantastic in October.
posted by The World Famous at 7:30 PM on July 11, 2013

We went to Door Co. for a few nights after a November wedding. It was actually really nice being there offseason, and we ended up going back for several anniversary weekends. We stay at a B&B called The Chanticleer that is great, but of course there are lots of other places to stay as well.

Another option, maybe: House on the Rock in Spring Green, WI. It'd either be the best or worst honeymoon ever. Or both.
posted by voodoochile at 7:34 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Starved Rock State Park

Wildlife Prairie (no longer a state) Park

Bishop Hill? (I'm sure there's hiking nearby)

Cahokia Mounds

Galena is very cute, and has a good historic district, including U.S. Grant's house & the Old Market House.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:34 PM on July 11, 2013

Also if you come to Peoria there is good hiking at Wildlife Prairie and Forest Park (spectacular in fall) (among several other good hiking spots), good rooms at the newly-renovated Pere Marquette and at the Mark Twain, and good food at June among other Peoria Heights restaurants.

If you decide on Peoria, memail me and I will tell you ALL THE PLACES. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:39 PM on July 11, 2013

Starved Rock wil be lovely, but it won't be a great destination for food. Of the above suggestions, I would choose Door County or Madison. Both would supply great hiking, food, and culture.
posted by TrarNoir at 7:45 PM on July 11, 2013

I'm not sure how splurge-y you want to go, but my parents stayed at The American Club in Kohler, WI, for one of their (winter) anniversaries and really loved it.
posted by jaguar at 7:48 PM on July 11, 2013

Also, my family vacationed annually in Door County in late September or early October when I was growing up, and I second its autumnal gloriousness. Plus, lots of fish fries. :)
posted by jaguar at 7:51 PM on July 11, 2013

Galena is a nice little destination town. It basically has one big long main street next to a river with tons of shops and restaurants and is very quaint. There are nice views driving in and the town has hills up one side so it's not flat like a lot of IL and definitely no strip malls.

Door County has awesome views. I lived in Algoma, just below, and had family who lived on Washington Island. Lots of artists live there.

Lake Geneva is in my mind a summer town, tho' they do have some good resorts there. My daughter actually lives there so if you want more info I could ask her.

Madison has arts, music, shops, and the like. You might enjoy exploring MadTown and driving to Dodge State Park. Madison also has various farmers markets and shows and such going on at various times of the year.

If it were me, I would drive up the back roads toward Door County, along the Kettle Moraine Trail and then East toward the lake, and visit the Ice Age Museum, through Kettle Moraine country, and then stay at a B&B near the lake. And OMG, fish fries, yes!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:57 PM on July 11, 2013

Another vote for southwest Michigan. It's lovely in the fall, with good hiking places along Lake Michigan like Warren Dunes State Park, Grand Mere State Park, and Saugatuck Dunes State Park. Lots of wineries that offer tastings. Some great restaurants (Cafe Gulistan, Salt of the Earth, and Everyday People to name a few). Lots of art studios along the lakeshore. And you can go apple picking (or just eat apple pie)!
posted by Empidonax at 8:04 PM on July 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Agree on Michigan. Even better if you go to Frankfort/Crystal Lake, which is beautiful but might be a little too far.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:10 PM on July 11, 2013

Nthng Galena.
posted by timsteil at 8:37 PM on July 11, 2013

Do not go to Lake Geneva. I am from Wisconsin and I love everything about it, but Lake Geneva is the worst, and in particular there are no restaurants worth eating at.

Door County is beautiful and amazing, but actually mid-October is high season again - Pumpkin Patch is around then, and with the leaves changing it gets quite busy. This is OK though, because it means everything will still be open. I love Door County, and there are loads of art galleries and studios you can visit, and I think that's the last weekend of American Folklore Theatre, which puts on the most Wisconsiny shows you can see anywhere.

Southwest Michigan is also nice - it's Door County-lite - less crowded and closer to Chicago, but (IMO) not as nice.

The American Club in Kohler is a great splurge hotel with amazing, amazing restaurants. The Kohler museum (toilets, showers, etc.) is a surprisingly entertaining place to spend an afternoon, with a huge showroom of showers with like eighty showerheads and LED lights and all kinds of craziness. It's great. They also have an extremely nice spa, if you're into that. My mom and I went there for a weekend once and it was great and pretty quiet in mid-October.

I also think Cedarburg (near Milwaukee) is really charming - similar to Galena I guess - lots of art galleries and cute shops and nice restaurants. I stayed at the Washington House Inn once and loved it - it's very quaint and not super fancy, but really friendly and nice. Cedar Creek Winery does a fun tour and tasting, and the building it's in has all kinds of other arty shops. Also, Cedarburg is about 45 minutes from Kohler, so you could even do a Cedarburg-Kohler-Sheboygan trip. I would love that.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 8:44 PM on July 11, 2013

Oh yeah, and House on the Rock is terrible and amazing. If you like weird stuff, amazing. We did a weekend trip to Madison once and visited House on the Rock one afternoon and New Glarus (cute faux-Swiss town with the awesome New Glarus Brewery) the next. That's another really nice weekend trip from Chicago, and Madison is great. Staying downtown is worth the extra money.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 8:49 PM on July 11, 2013

Well if you're going to House on the Rock, you might as well stay at the Don Q Inn.

Don't eat at their restaurant.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:49 PM on July 11, 2013

I was going to suggest either Door County or Kohler -- both are lovely in October. Kohler in particular has an excellent spa as well as hiking, canoes, golf, and (I believe) riding and hiking trails. And, yes, the American Club restaurants are fantastic.

And yeah, the Kohler museum is awesome. It's like a mix between history and the best bathroom showroom ever. There's some really awesomely tacky stuff, too.
posted by devinemissk at 7:09 AM on July 12, 2013

The Kohler factory tour is a lot more interesting than it ought to be. I have a vivid memory of a large shop floor full of unfired pink-grey porcelain toilets. Shirtless men were dispersed among the rows, slowly smoothing out the clay with damp rags.

The Kohler Arts Center in nearby Sheboygan is a gem.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:25 AM on July 12, 2013

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