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

Indiana Dunes National Park. Credit: Paul J Everett on Flickr Creative Commons, CC BY 2.0 Deed

Indiana Dunes National Park

Chicago boasts some great beaches, but for something different, Indiana Dunes National Park is worth the drive over state borders. The park features over three miles of lakeshore lined with sand dunes, marshes, grasslands and forests. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can try their Three Dune Challenge and climb three of their tallest dunes in one day. 

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.

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.

Oak Park, IL

This one is right in Chicago’s suburbs, but we can’t skip over Oak Park’s ties to legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright. His home and studio are in Oak Park, as are a series of other Prairie-style homes he designed. Take one of the many architectural tours dedicated to Wright’s work in the neighborhood.

Whether you’re exploring new museums, different scenery or a piece of architecture history, we hope this inspires you to find your new favorite getaway from the city!