Side Trips from Chicago

Old Jun 12th, 2006, 05:56 AM
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Side Trips from Chicago

Planning a 6 day visit to Chicago area and would like to do some day trips from the city? Any suggestions? Will rent a car. Are there any lake areas that might be worth a day visit? Never been to any of the great lakes. Thanks..
GailLK is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2006, 07:11 AM
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I would suggest you head up to Milwaukee or Madison for a day. Either can be visited as a daytrip to Chicago. Both offer something different than Chicago and are worth visiting.

tcreath is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2006, 07:18 AM
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There's SO much here that for 6 days I would really just view the Chicago environs. You could get the Brookfield Zoo or Botanical Gardens in Glencoe in for "day" trips with a car quite easily. Or if you like amusement parks "Six Flags/Great America" in Gurnee, if its summer- if you run out of downtown LOOP, North Side, or Hyde Park etc. things to do. But if you look - you won't.

It's the logistics. You'll get all kinds of real wonderful lake ideas but anything mentioned will be far (farther than it sounds, IMHO) and the time taken to do this would cut into your Chicago time so greatly that you would be more time driving, then there.

For instance, these areas (ie Harbor Country, Starved Rock, IL River etc.) IMHO, that are best from Chicago are about 3 hours away, even with the best traffic one way. Do you want to drive 6 hours to see something for an hour or two?

If you do- there are lots of ideas on Fodors. Do the search feature and put in "Chicago day trips".

Actually you'll get many ideas from that search that will be more city environs or suburban than "other area" lakefront day trips.

When I visit anything on any of the Great Lakes- (WI, MI shores of Lake Michigan)-sand dunes in MI or any of the other really interesting natural areas- it will always take me at least an overnight- and I live in Chicagoland proper.

If I had 6 days I would use them in Chicago or its wonderful suburban nature parks or venues. That one to Glencoe's park mentioned and the Ba 'hai Temple on the way is phenomenal.

Evanston and shoreline North is well worth a day to Lincoln Park and you could go on public transit. Brookfield is a world class zoo and there are some ethnic restaurants out there that are really worth a visit.

I would do the Chicago Architectural Foundations River tour on Chicago's architecture and also go out through the locks if you really want great lake experience. It's here, you need not get into a construction traffic line for 3 or 4 hours to see another angle of the same lake. The other areas are all different but that time element would just scatter you too much for it to be enjoyable.

JJ5 is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2006, 09:20 PM
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I think the Indiana Dunes state park would be a nice day trip. The sand dunes are a natural wonder. You can hike as well as swim there. It is about an hour from Chicago. Pack a picnic and enjoy the day.

Another nice day trip would be Starved Rock State park or Mathisen State park (just south of Starved Rock) near Utica, IL. They are about two hours from Chicago. Go to Starved Rock for the view. Go to Mathisen for the waterfalls. After hiking stop by Duffy's Tavern in Utica for a burger.

Both of these trips would give you a different experience of the midwest.
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Old Jun 14th, 2006, 04:24 AM
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GailLK, I agree with Cheriebob. Go to the Indiana Dunes National Park. You don't even need to rent a car. Take the South Bend and South Shore Railroad (an electric train) from the Metra station at the intersection of Randolph and Michigan. If you want to go to the dunes (and the lakeshore), you get off at the Dune Park station (near Chesterton, IN) and the entrance to the park is very close. (Walk west to the first intersection - just a block or so - and follow the signs.)

If you wanted to go to the beach, get off at the Beverly Shores station, and just walk north. Look at the NICTD website for schedules and fares.

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a great suggestion. Wonderful get-a-way for most of the day. You could combine it with an evening performance at Ravinia. Either is asily gotten to by Metra -- in fact, there is a special Ravinia train set up specifically for going to performances from Chicago.
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Old Jun 14th, 2006, 04:31 AM
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Another town that's fun to explore is Saugatuck in Michigan. Depending on your interests, there is shopping, great restaurants, boating, dune rides, swimming at Oval beach. Lots of activities during the summer.

For more information..

Faye is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2006, 06:13 AM
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This summer the traffic at the IL/IN border and the return traffic, especially because of construction closures backing up the toll booths etc. makes the trips mentioned longer than an hour. And if you drive, you should get an I-Pass.

It takes me at least 2-1/2 hours to get to Saugatuck without the construction, and I'm on I-80 itself near the Tinley Park entrance/exit at Route 45.

But if you can take the train or public transits direct as mentioned, that would work but would be rather exhausting for a 6 day total visit, IMHO.

If you have a bunch of energy and accept being on the way for lengths of that time, go for it.
JJ5 is offline  
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