Chicago has a lot to offer visitors and locals, including amazing architecture, fantastic museums, and tones of tasty local restaurants. But, of course, every now and then, we could all use a break from the hustle and bustle of the Windy City, so we’ve compiled a list of the top weekend getaways from Chicago. These short journeys will satisfy every kind of traveler, whether seeking picturesque scenery or small-town charm.
Here are the top five weekend getaways from Chicago.
- Starved Rock State Park, Illinois
At Starved Rock State Park, explore the tall forests to discover waterfalls and wildlife. This park, situated on the Illinois River and about an hour and a half from Chicago, is ideal if you want to spend the weekend away from skyscrapers and in the great outdoors. Heavy rains in the spring make the waterfalls very active, while in the fall, the foliage change to stunning colors of orange, red, and yellow. Stay at the Starved Rock Lodge inside the state park, or choose to spend the night in Ottawa, a quaint little town nearby with eateries, stores, and more.
- Indianapolis, Indiana
Indianapolis, commonly referred to as “Indy” by locals, is only a three-hour trip from Chicago and has a tone to offer. Sports lovers should visit the renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while families will enjoy the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Zoo. The Massachusetts Avenue Arts District contains theatres, galleries, and independent stores, while the Broad Ripple area offers food, shopping, and other amenities. The Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown-Union Station offers accommodations that were once Pullman railway cars from the 1920s, which are ideal for history buffs.
- Saugatuck, Michigan
Just under 2.5 hours from Chicago, this lakefront village is best visited during the summer. Sit on the sands of Oval Beach or Saugatuck Dunes State Park, explore the lake by boat, peruse the art galleries, or visit the neighborhood breweries.
- Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Just an hour away from Chicago, the lovely Lake Geneva offers another local seaside getaway. Along with other outdoor activities, you can go zip lining, boat on the lake, and sunbathe on its beaches during the summer. In winter, visit the Ice Castles, a breathtaking display of icicles.
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin
On the shores of Lake Michigan, an hour and a half north of Chicago, is Milwaukee, a city bursting with excellent museums and even better beer. Pabst Brewing Company and Miller Brewing Company are both based in Milwaukee, which has played a significant role in beer production in the United States. Try these oldies or go to one of the numerous nearby craft brewers to celebrate the city’s rich beer history. A must-see attraction is the Milwaukee Public Museum, where you can find fossils, a European town, a scale model of Milwaukee’s streets in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a butterfly garden, and more. The Milwaukee Art Museum, the Harley-Davidson Museum, and the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, popularly referred to as The Domes, are more locations that are worthwhile seeing.