Need a break from the city? If you live in Chicago, you don’t have to travel far for a slower pace. It’s easy to get out of town for the day, and you can make it home in time for bad. Here are a few day trips from Chicago to check out the next time you’re in the mood for a mini-adventure.
Located just 45 minutes outside of Chicago, Oglesby is a sleepy town, but it’s full of outdoor activities. From horseback riding, river rafting and hiking to canoeing and camping, there are plenty of options. It makes sense, then, that Oglesby is one of the most popular day trips from Chicago.
Starved Rock State Park
If you head to Oglesby, don’t miss Starved Rock State Park. Situated on the Illinois River, the park offers spectacular views of stunning waterfalls and steep canyons with a surprisingly rugged terrain that differs from the typical Illinois landscape. Come here to take in the views, relax and experience the soothing sounds of nature.
Anderson Japanese Gardens
Anderson Japanese Gardens, located in Rockford, boasts some of the most beautiful landscapes in Illinois. The Gardens offer 12 acres of winding paths, waterfalls and koi ponds. This tranquil paradise is only one hour and 45 minutes outside of Chicago, and it’s a must-see.
Located just two and a half hours from Chicago, Holland is a picturesque, quaint town. The big red lighthouse is just one of its many charms. You’ll find sandy white beaches, delicious dining options and great shopping in Holland. One of the best times to visit the town is in May for their annual Tulip Time Festival when the colorful flowers are in full bloom.
As a Chicago resident, you may be wondering why you should travel outside of the city for lake time. But hear us out: Lake Katherine is worth the trip. In addition to lake views, the area also has a nature center and botanic garden for you to explore. Don’t miss the 85-acre nonprofit park, which features prairie land, woods and wetlands.
Matthiessen State Park
Matthiessen State Park is another one of our favorite day trips from Chicago. The state park boasts natural features like breathtaking rock formations and sandstone. There’s also a canyon that’s broken up into two levels (upper and lower sells), which makes for a unique walking tour. Be on the lookout for summer flowers in the park, like violet-spiked lead plants and yellow partridge peas.
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
Lastly, head to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserves for a day of exploring scenic trails. The preserve is perhaps best-known for its Rocky Glen waterfall as well as the Sawmill Bluff overlook, both of which are worth the trip. You’ll find over 720 native plants and over 300 species of fish, amphibians, mammals and reptiles.
Looking for outdoor activities to do without leaving the city? Check out our recommendations here.