Need a break from the city? If you live in Chicago, you don’t have to travel far for a refreshing change of pace. It’s easy to get out of town for the day, explore some new surroundings, and make it home to your apartment in time for bed. Here are seven day trips from Chicago to add to your bucket list. Let’s plan your next mini-adventure.
Located just 45 minutes outside of Chicago, Oglesby is a sleepy town: The excitement is in its outdoor activities. From horseback riding, river rafting, and hiking to canoeing and camping, there are tons of options for nature lovers. This is the place to go when you want to unplug and have fun the old fashioned way.
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. Starved Rock’s rugged terrain is surprisingly different 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 escape is only one hour and 45 minutes outside of Chicago, and it’s a must-see.
Holland’s big red lighthouse is just one of its many charms. Located two-and-a-half hours from Chicago, you’ll find sandy white beaches, delicious dining options, and great shopping in the quaint town. One of the best times to visit the is in May for the annual Tulip Time Festival when the colorful flowers are in full bloom.
As a Chicago resident, you’ll be close to Lake Michigan, but Lake Katherine is worth the trip from the city. 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 park has breathtaking rock formations and stunning sandstone. There’s also a canyon that’s divided into 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
Finally, 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.