Road Trips From Chicago

Road Trips From Chicago

Road trips from Chicago aren’t just about how far you travel. They’re about the experience and the destination itself.

Get a taste of history and culture with a downtown Chicago kayak tour or historic architecture cruise. For families, there’s a plethora of water parks and kid-friendly attractions in Wisconsin Dells. And for those seeking a little solitude, check out Galena’s stunning scenery.

Indiana Dunes National Park

Located less than an hour from Chicago, Indiana Dunes National Park is a road trip destination that will not disappoint. While it may not be as large as the national parks of Yellowstone and Yosemite, this 15,000-acre park still offers a variety of activities for all interests. Hike over unique sand dunes, catch a glimpse of rare bird species, or enjoy a picnic on the beach. Visit the park’s visitor center first to learn about any special events that may be happening during your trip.

The park’s defining landscape is the massive 15 miles of sandy beaches that stretch along Lake Michigan. It also includes a diverse collection of natural communities such as bogs, marshes, swamps, bayou-looking wetlands, prairies, oak savannas, and woodland forests. This variety of habitats attracts more than 350 bird species.

In addition to the beach, visitors can explore 45 miles of hiking trails, fish, picnic, horseback ride, and swim. The park is home to a number of historic sites, including the Bailly Homestead, a National Historic Landmark. The dunes are also a great place to spot river otters, which were recently reintroduced to the area.

Being so close to Chicago, the national park gets busy during the summer as crowds of locals flood the beaches. If you’re looking to avoid the masses, late spring and early autumn are better times to visit.

Smoky Mountains

A road trips from Chicago to the Smoky Mountains is a dream come true for many outdoor enthusiasts. The western segment of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, the Smokies (as locals call them) is a UNESCO World Heritage site that includes Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which features waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, hiking trails, and wildlife such as black bears.

The park’s most famous attraction is Clingmans Dome, a 543-foot observation tower offering panoramic views of the Smokies, but there are dozens of other things to do, too. Take a hike on one of the Smokies’ more than 100 natural sandstone archways, enjoy a scenic helicopter tour of the Smokies or test your skills at an axe throwing place that has been gaining popularity in recent years.

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Other parks in the area include Mammoth Cave National Park, which boasts the longest cave system in the world with more than 400 miles of underground passageways and is a six-hour drive from Chicago. Another fun destination is Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, a scenic geologic area featuring waterfalls, dense woodlands, sandstone cliffs, and hiking trails.

If you prefer a shorter road trip, head to Indiana’s Parke County for a visit that pays tribute to the region’s 98 historic covered bridges and offers hiking trails with wooden ladders, deep gorges, rocky hollows and natural arches. The quaint towns and rolling hills of the central west Indiana region also offer a wide variety of shopping, dining, entertainment and spas. This area is also home to the annual Parke County Covered Bridge Festival. From there, you can also take a short drive to Lake Geneva, a lovely lake where you can spend the day on the water and try out some of the town’s popular restaurants.

Wisconsin Dells

The Dells of the Wisconsin River is a destination of sandstone cliffs and narrow canyons that captivated French explorers in the 1700s. Today, it’s known as “The Waterpark Capital of the World,” boasting half a dozen indoor and outdoor waterpark resorts, including America’s largest (Noah’s Ark).

Take in the beauty of the area on a scenic tour of the Upper and Lower Dells from this long-running tour operator, which operates from mid-March to mid-November. Visitors can see the pine-crowned cliffs and sandstone formations, including Chimney Rock and Romance Cliff. The two-hour Upper Dells tour includes a visit to Witches Gulch, which is accessible only by boat, and Stand Rock, where a trained dog replicated the cliff jump of H.H. Bennett’s famous photograph.

A visit to Dells is not complete without sampling local brews and foods at the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, which also offers tastings and tours of the brewery. Other must-see stops include the Science Museum of Minnesota, with dinosaur specimens and an immersive theater, and the Minnesota History Center, with interactive exhibits about the state’s history. In the city of Saint Paul, which forms a Twin Cities with Minneapolis, visitors can learn about the region’s history at the Cass Gilbert–designed Minnesota State Capitol and get an up-close look at Viking ships at the Minnesota Historical Society Museum.

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The quaint, historic downtown of the Dells is a hub for shops, restaurants and family-friendly attractions. Shops include independent stores like Wisconsin Dairyland Fudge and Goody Goody Gumdrop, while a visit to the Old Fashioned Portrait Museum lets families experience 19th-century photo-taking techniques, such as wet plate. Families can also go bowling at the Chalet Lanes & Lounge or participate in Wizard Quest, which challenges kids and adults to battle a dragon and wizard.


If you’re in the mood for a quick road trips from Chicago, a visit to Kenosha is a great choice. The city is home to many attractions that are sure to make your road trip memorable. There are also several ways to get there, from taking the bus to driving yourself. When booking your ticket, be sure to check the price and timeframes of each option to find the best deal.

If it’s a budget-friendly trip you’re after, the bus is the most affordable way to travel from Chicago to Kenosha. Fares are usually less than $20 and take about 1 hour and 57 minutes to reach the destination. However, the cost of fuel will add to your total bill. Taking the train is another option, but it’s more expensive than buses and flights.

During the summer, Kenosha offers a farmers market at HarborPark, where you can buy fresh local produce and gourmet oils. There are also plenty of craft vendors selling non-food items, as well as live music. The market isn’t open during the winter, but you can catch a similar experience at the Wilmot Flea Market.

One of the city’s most unique attractions is the Mars Cheese Castle. This hard-to-miss storefront is a combination grocery, deli, bakery, taproom, and cheesy heaven. Whether you’re looking for a snack or just a souvenir, this is a must-see attraction.

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The city is also home to the headquarters of companies such as Jockey International and Snap-on Incorporated. Its location on the lakefront makes it a prime spot for outdoor recreation. In addition to walking and biking, you can enjoy the area’s numerous beaches and parks, including the Wisconsin Historical Museum.

Amish Country

Embark on a road trip through Amish Country to see what it is like to live a simpler life. The communities of Amish Country offer meandering back roads, farm-to-table restaurants, and family-owned shops. You can also take a horseback ride through the countryside to see the area from a different perspective.

The Amish people are known for their modest dress and resistance to modern conveniences. They are a common sight on the country roads, and you can usually get a friendly wave from them as they pass by. However, they do not want to be photographed up close, so you should respect their wishes and not photograph them.

Amish Country is full of fun for the whole family. You can visit a one-room Amish schoolhouse and a traditional barn. There is also a museum where you can learn about the history of the Amish community and how they lived in the past. You can also find Amish crafts and food in the local shops.

The Amish love to eat, and the food is delicious. It is a mix of traditional Midwestern American, Swiss and German home cooking. It is served in large portions, and the dishes are hearty. Some of the dishes include roast beef, pork chops, bologna, chicken soup, butter noodles, fried corn, beans, mashed potatoes and Jello salad.

The best time to visit Amish Country is during late spring and early autumn. This is when the weather is beautiful and the crowds are minimal. If you have a car, it is easy to explore the area, but if not, you can hire a tour company. The tours will give you a detailed tour of the Amish community.

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