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Chicago Day Trips

Although Chicago is a huge city with plenty to explore, sometimes you just need a break from the bustle and noise. For fellow Chicago residents who might need a weekend getaway, here are the best day trips close to the Chicago area:

Lake Geneva’s Ice Sculptures

Lake Geneva, WI

Only a 1-½ hour drive away sits the city of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The beloved destination has been a top destination for Chicago residents for generations and offers a variety of fun-filled activities and stops for all ages. While the summer months are Geneva’s most visited tourist times, winter brings a different atmosphere. 

For lovers of the outdoors, Geneva’s Lake Shore trail is the perfect opportunity to enjoy spectacular views in the brisk air. Once February arrives, the famous lake becomes filled with extraordinary ice sculptures, bonfires on the beach and more. While it is the coldest season, don’t miss your chance to experience the incredibly warm community.  

The Milwaukee Art Museum

Milwaukee, WI

Whether you get there by car or Amtrak train, Milwaukee’s downtown has something for everyone. Murals and public art line the streets full of boutique shops, perfect for exploring without an agenda. Don’t miss the Milwaukee Art Museum, one of the city’s many museums, for the exhibits and the architecture of the building itself. Milwaukee is also a city for beer enthusiasts, with a few historic gems related to the Pabst Brewing Company.

Michigan City, IN

A quaint city located just off of Lake Michigan’s shores, Michigan City should be high on everyone’s list to visit this winter. The town is only one hour away from Chicago and is surrounded by one of America’s most stunning national wonders, the Indiana Dunes State and National Parks. While winter isn’t typically the time of year many choose to visit the lakeside landscape, witnessing the sand-swept mounds covered in layers of soft snow is sure to delight all visitors.  

While many enjoy a stroll on one of the many trails found in the park, the town offers guests a variety of other ventures, including shopping at the Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets, dazzling architecture at Barker Mansion and an array of wineries and breweries. 

The Anderson Japanese Gardens

Rockford, IL

Less than 100 miles northwest of Chicago, Rockford’s charm is just a quick road trip away. You can’t miss the Anderson Japanese Gardens, one of North America’s premiere Japanese gardens with over 12 acres of streams, waterfalls, koi-filled ponds and more. The Discovery Center Museum or the Burpee Museum of Natural History are great spots for kids and families to explore.

Whether you’re taking a thrilling trip to a neighboring state or enjoying a trip to one of the country’s most lush gardens, we hope this inspires you to find your new favorite getaway from the city!