Cabin camping near Chicago?

Jan 2nd, 2009, 03:24 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 3
Cabin camping near Chicago?

We live in Chicago and are looking to rent a cabin for a long weekend in April. We're taking 2 teenagers who aren't exactly wilderness-friendly.

Ideally, we would like to be w/in 3 hours of the city. We'd like to be in a park/area with water (kayaking, intertubing, etc) and lots of woods. We would like a cabin that is very clean and has a kitchen. We'd consider a lodge or cabin community, but want to be able to cook for ourselves.

Any recs??
emiliewasmyeve is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 11:07 AM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 165
As you live in Chicago, I am a bit surprised that you are planning a water vacation in April. I am just as hardy as the next camper, but I sure would not be planning water sports in April. This trip might be more enjoyable (i.e. warm) for your teenagers in June. As for cabins, I suggest you check with the State Parks System for rentals.
grapes is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 11:22 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 9,952
You know, grapes, the short, cold days of winter we suffer through in the North have a way of messing with your mind. It warmed up to a sunny 35 at my house today and I was working outside in just a sweatshirt. No need for hat, gloves, scarf I was wearing when it was near zero just a few days ago. Come March I'll be wearing shorts & a t-shirt if it breaks 50!

I agree though, a water vacation near Chicago in April - tubing, kayaking, etc sounds like polar bear sports to me.

J62 is online now  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 12:00 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 16,253
I'm a Chicagoan who is also a MI person, emiliewasmyeye. And I know countless places there but all of them are not doing those activities you mention in April.

How do you feel about water parks with wilderness cabins?

If that isn't up your alley- then to do outside activities in April? Too late for skiing, too early for major water sports.

Even if you go straight South 3 hours, you aren't going to get that. My daugher and SIL have done much farther in April- into KY or TN- but mainly to fish- with just a little canoeing.

But if you want to stay under 3 hours, your best bet is ski areas or water parks. There are tons of those within 3 hours with cabin rentals.

I have a small lakehouse in SW MI that is 2 hours and 10 minutes from Chicago- but all the rentals around me? Fishing will be gang-busters but we won't be IN the water yet. The earliest I've done all those activities is May. For woods jeeping or other FABULOUS for teens activities (Sand Dune- jeep rentals- and bikes etc.) you need to go a bit further to Silver Lake Sand Dunes or Sleeping Bear Dunes areas.

If you google- southwest michigan cabin or somesuch- you will get some leads. Or check out
as they sell only lake homes but have some rentals by the owner of the real estate- and sometimes a couple others linked- as well.

April is going to be easy to find a fresh water lake rental with heavy woods, if that's all you want. Because the main season is May to Oct.

There's a B&B called Mendon's Country Inn in Mendon MI- and in the middle of Amish Country that might perk your interest. They have game rooms and all season activities for teens, I think. But I'm not sure that venue would have a kitchen. You only go to the dining hall and the main INN, for the fab breakfast- not the other meals. They have cabins or out buildings in the woods in the back acreages. It's by the St. Joe River and there are Native American Ghosts. One time I was there, a tribal conclave was en masse at the main house- the tribes meet there for their ceremonies and business.

This main building at Mendon Inn is nearly the oldest in two or three states- and was the original road house between Chicago and Detroit for horse carriages and coach travel. Presidents, Elvis, and LOTS of people in USA history have stayed there. Mendon is just about 3 hours from Chicago.

It might be educational for the kids. It helps to be small there though. All the living features, showers especially, are 1800 people sized.

Water parks have become the thing at that time of year. There is a good one near Starved Rock Nat. Park. Great Wolf is fine. We did Chula Vista in the Dells- and that one has indoor- but outdoor won't be opened yet. Chula Vista is more a resort lodge with kitchens if you rent from the condo section. It is NOT old or particularly rustic. In fact it is rather new and stylish. We had 13 in one huge 3 bedroom condo there, this last July.

You can walk in the woods and they are in the process of building the river walk to the Dells itself- from there. There are steep drop offs in that area of WI- not cliffs- but close to it. Hiking would be the other option when you are out of the water park.

JJ5 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 16,253

The Dells are expensive. And won't be fully opened, I don't believe. But you might be able to see Lake Delton EMPTY. It had a disaster last summer as the dam broke and emptied it in about 20 minutes.

Maybe they will be "fixed" and in the process of filling it up again in April. THAT COULD BE almost exactly the time it is planned to happen. That might be interesting. There are go carts and other types of amusement park activities there too that might be April active.
JJ5 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 07:46 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 729
The Michigan City/Traverse City area has cabins/camping and is close to Chicago. Click on the link below.
japw82 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 04:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1
I'm a huge fan of the Mendon Country Inn, having stayed there 7 or 8 times. However, I'm not sure if it will be the right fit for what you are looking for.

For most of the Mendon Country Inn, you would not have access to a kitchen. There is a free breakfast every morning and it is quite a nice breakfast, prepared by Geff, the gourmet chef-owner. They often do have lunches or dinners there, but they aren't free. However, those are not every day.

Behind the inn is the Creekside Lodge. Last time that we stayed in that building, there was a full kitchen that the lodge guests could use. However, it has undergone renovations, so I don't know if there is a kitchen there anymore nor if it is currently available.

All the bedrooms in the lodge were meant for couples and have one double or queen bed. In the inn, you have some choice and there is even a family suite.

The inn does have free canoeing from the dock or Geff will take a canoe up the St. Joseph River and you can canoe back. I don't know if people innertube on the St. Joseph or if kayaks are available.

I've always been very happy with the cleanliness of the Mendon Country Inn, the owners are friendly and good cooks, and it is very relaxing around there. It's a great place to visit, but this may not be the place you are looking for for this trip.

A better option may be the Sunset Beach Cottages near Muskegon. ( Their lot isn't very wooded, but the area is. It is on Lake Michigan, but the lake isn't very warm in April. The cabins do have full kitchens and are clean.
JoshuaR is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 06:25 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 16,253
There is also another one on Lake Michigan much closer than Muskegon- and way within your 3 hours from the city. In fact, it is about 2 hours and in South Haven, MI. It's Sleepy Hollow Beach Resort and they have a great website that will explain it better than I.

JJ5 is offline  
Jan 5th, 2009, 06:33 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 16,253
Just want to add that Mendon Inn is rather a real experience, just as Joshua describes. It left a long memory impression upon my kids- grown kids at that- but people who before that had not been that exposed to historical reality in quite that way.

The countryside around there is extremely interesting to explore too because of the Amish dominance.

Geff and his wife are from South Africa and are two of the most interesting people I have ever meet in my life. There life stories are phenomenal and he is a fabulous muscian and also a cordon bleu chef-went to school in Paris during their emmigrating years.

A breakfast like that at the prices involved and you won't be worried about the kitchen aspect or not.

This area of MI has an entirely different cost differential than the Lake MI coastal area does.

JJ5 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:50 PM.