What to do in Illinois for a day trip outside of Chi-town?
October 7, 2007 6:41 AM   Subscribe

[IllinoisFilter] Just moved to Chicago, have Columbus Day off. I'd like to explore something somewhere else in the state of Illinois (because I haven't been outside of Chi-town yet.) Any suggestions?

I want to see the rest of my new state!, but I have to go to work on Tuesday so my first day trip has to be do-able in a day.

Things I like: weird architecture, arts and crafts, papercrafts, ice-skating, good baked goods, off-the-beaten-track historical sites, and orchards. I'm willing to go anywhere within 2-3 hours.

Any suggestions, Illinoisian Mefis?
posted by moooshy to Travel & Transportation around Illinois (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Seeing natural sites and hiking, etc. aren't in your list of things you like, but Starved Rock is a really cool place a couple hours from Chicago. I was blown away the first time I went there because it's just so atypical of the Midwest. Well worth checking out.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 7:03 AM on October 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

A very popular day trip from Chicago is to Starved Rock State Park. If the gorgeous weather holds out, you might like that.

Something that fits in the "weird architecture, arts and crafts, papercrafts, good baked goods" scheme of things might be Long Grove, IL.

Really, though...there are dozens of quaint suburbs within an hour radius of Chicago that have what you are looking for. Maybe pick one and explore it!
posted by achmorrison at 7:04 AM on October 7, 2007

(I type slow.)
posted by achmorrison at 7:06 AM on October 7, 2007

Not in Illinois, but House on the Rock is surreal. It's like staring into the eye of god.
posted by corpse at 7:36 AM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Starved Rock. Although I was there a couple weekends ago and it was really, really crowded.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:39 AM on October 7, 2007

Nthing Starved Rock. Loved it as a kid. Great story, cool views, etc.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:57 AM on October 7, 2007

Starved Rock is a good idea, and popular ... you could also try the Anderson Japanese Gardens, in Rockford, or the Botanic Gardens. There's also architecture--Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, or Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House in Plano. There's actually a lot of architecture to see; try googling Illinois architecture, if that's your bag.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 8:05 AM on October 7, 2007

Starved rock is very cool, but will likely be a zoo. Galena is another popular day trip and will probably also be packed. I'd go to Springfield if you've never been before. There might be more visitors, but they should be be mitigated by the state holiday.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 8:12 AM on October 7, 2007

Technically it's next door, but you could pop over to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Pebbly beaches, huge sand dunes (perfect for sledding), hiking trails, marshes. On a clear day, you can see the Chicago skyline from the beach.
posted by steef at 9:18 AM on October 7, 2007

I took a class where we went to different Illinois parks and Matthiessen beat out Starved rock in my opinion. It has these ancient canyons that are absolutely gorgeous in the fall. Less crowded too.

Farms I like:

A killer combo is Octoberfest and Harvest Moon

Also check out all the farmer's markets around Illinois, many are fantastic. I personally can vouch for Urbana's.
posted by melissam at 9:35 AM on October 7, 2007

I second House on the Rock! Okay, maybe you ought to save that for a crappy weather day, but owe it to yourself to go at least once. Bring a friend. Prepare to be completely overwhelmed.
posted by thewrongparty at 9:36 AM on October 7, 2007

off-the-beaten-track historical sites

Black Point Estate.^ [Note: you must take the cruise.]
posted by dhartung at 10:05 AM on October 7, 2007

I came across this when I was putting together the FPP on the Lincoln-Douglas memorials, and immediately bookmarked it, because I love doing day trips and this has them all.
posted by nax at 3:51 PM on October 7, 2007

Don't forget Indiana! You can pick apples and get lost in a corn maze at County Line Orchard, about 45 minutes from downtown. Their cider is delicious. Not to mention the cinnamon donuts.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:15 PM on October 7, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you all for your suggestions. I think I'm going to check out the temple in Wilmette and then go apple picking, with maybe some ice skating somewhere in there. :)
posted by moooshy at 10:29 PM on October 7, 2007

Response by poster: An update:

I went to Apple Holler in Wisconsin for breakfast. It was quite crowded, so I left and took the Jelly Belly factory tour (which I suspect is an East Coast holding facility for jelly beans made at their West Coast location, because we simply watched videos of jellybeans being made in a warehouse facility.) I then went ice skating, checked out the Bahaii Temple in Wilmette (one of 7 Wonders of Illinois) and then went to a wonderful art exhibit at the Evanston Art Center, before taking a walk along the beach and heading home.

Yay Illinois outside of Chicago!
posted by moooshy at 1:54 PM on October 8, 2007

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