Fun Chicago Daytrips?
August 24, 2008 8:55 AM   Subscribe

What are some fun, scenic, interesting daytrip destinations from Chicago?

We have a car, enjoy outdoorsy things, good food, natural beauty, quirky locales, and other interestingness. Looking for something within 1-3 hours away by car.
posted by c:\awesome to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (13 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Starved Rock.

I've never been, but I hear the Volo Auto Museum is wacky.

The House on the rock. Also never been there, but hear it's neat.

Wisconsin Dells.
Scenic, obnoxious, amazing.
posted by gjc at 9:14 AM on August 24, 2008

Morton Arboretum.
posted by gjc at 9:15 AM on August 24, 2008

Well, during the summer there's always the Bristol Renaissance Faire, just over the Wisconsin border. It's not outdoorsy or natural beauty, but it's certainly a quirky locale.
posted by mismatched at 10:22 AM on August 24, 2008

If you go down to the south end of the lake there is a lovely dune park.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:04 AM on August 24, 2008

Sorry, laziness... Indiana Dune State Park.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:05 AM on August 24, 2008

Most people enjoy Galina IL, and I have to say, the river road north into Wisconsin is absolutely beautiful, particularly in teh fall. THe Banks of the Mississippi are quite dramatic.

The Dells and House on the Rock are a little crowded and expensive for my taste. I love South Western Wisconsin though. Here are some of the places I like best.

Blue Mounds State Park is beautiful place that is seldom crowded.

Devil's Lake is very popular, but you can usually get away from the crowd by walking around the lake. It's surrounded by the Baraboo Bluffs, which I love. This is probably the best swimming lake in the southern part of the state.

Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio, Taliesen, is in one of the most beautiful valleys in the SW of the State.

People in Chicago seems to prefer Michigan to Wisconsin. The sand dunes are quite close. They're beautiful, and I hear MI is great, but I don't know it well.

Spring Green and the American Players Theater is outdoorsy and cool.

The places I like best are the unspectacular but unspoiled corners of the area.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 11:58 AM on August 24, 2008

This is best saved for December during the holidays I think, but we used to like to go to St. Charles.
posted by sevenless at 12:13 PM on August 24, 2008

another dunes option is the indiana dunes national lakeshore. one other option i've done is a daytrip to madison, wi. a long drive, but a totally different world.
posted by lester at 12:48 PM on August 24, 2008

Seconding Devil's Lake. Nearby is the very quirky Circus World Museum and the ferry at Merrimac. Or drive up the coast towards Sheboygan to spend the day at Kohler-Andrae state park. If you want to drive a little further, there are some amazing beaches on the lake side of Door County, Whitefish Dunes in particular is crystal clear and very sandy.
posted by erpava at 1:09 PM on August 24, 2008

If you want outdoors I highly recommend hiking/camping along the I & M canal trail either in Channahon or Gebhard Woods.

You would only be an hour away by car (think Joliet) which would give you all day for biking, hiking, or fishing.
posted by aetg at 3:28 PM on August 24, 2008

devil's lake is great, but parfrey's glen state park is fantastically amazing. it's one of my favorite places in the state. and it's very close to devil's lake.
posted by binocularfight at 5:58 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bishop Hill.

Galena, yes, but also the nearby Mississippi Palisades State Park with its incredible views of the Mississippi River. Or cross into Iowa and hit Dubuque (with its incline railway, Pikes Peak State Park (sort of the opposite to Palisades, but looking out over the Wisconsin River valley), and Effigy Mounds National Monument.

There are so many "themes" you could go with -- retracing the Blackhawk War, or Sufjan Stevens bingo.

Locally we have the Tallman House and Rotary Gardens as well as six historic districts.

The Geneva Lake area is full of resort and recreation-type getaways. (You'll just bump into a lot of Chicagoans.) The best "sight" is Yerkes Observatory.
posted by dhartung at 9:48 PM on August 24, 2008

I was in Chicago last week visiting family and we took a drive to the Michigan/Indiana boarder-area along Lake Michigan. Really cute area. The beach is a lot quieter than in the City. We had lunch at this cute place in New Buffalo called The Stray Dog and I could have spent forever looking at the apparel in their gift shop. Looked like there were a lot of antique shops and fun things, and there is a little harbor.
posted by radioamy at 7:49 PM on August 25, 2008

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