Why Take a Day Trip From Chicago

Chicago, while bustling with attractions, is also uniquely positioned for exciting day trips. Whether you’re looking for natural beauty, historical attractions, or cultural experiences, there’s a destination for you just a short drive away.

The Best Day Trips From Chicago

Here are 15 of the best day trips you can take from Chicago:

Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

Just a two-hour drive from Chicago, this stunning park is nestled in the Illinois River Valley. It offers over 13 miles of well-marked trails, leading to beautiful waterfalls and overlooks. Wildlife spotting is common, with everything from bald eagles to white-tailed deer calling the park home. Ideal visit times are during spring and fall when the foliage is at its most vibrant, providing breathtaking views. Pack a lunch, as picnic spots are scattered throughout the park, and wear sturdy shoes for the sometimes rugged terrain.

Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana

Sitting along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, this National Park offers diverse landscapes, from sandy beaches to lush forests. Over 350 bird species can be spotted here, making it a bird watcher’s paradise. For those interested in hiking, the park offers trails of varying lengths and difficulties. Summer is perfect for swimming and sunbathing while the cooler fall season provides stunning color changes in the park’s foliage.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

A 1.5-hour drive north of Chicago, Milwaukee is known for its rich brewing history. A tour of the Miller Brewery offers insight into the beer-making process, complete with samples. The Harley-Davidson Museum is a must for motorcycle enthusiasts while the Milwaukee Art Museum, with its impressive architecture and collection, is a haven for art lovers. Summerfest, the city’s annual music festival held in late June and early July, draws music fans from around the country.

Geneva, Illinois

This quaint town offers a mix of historic charm and modern conveniences. Known for its shopping, Geneva’s downtown district is filled with unique boutiques and specialty shops. The dining scene ranges from cozy coffee shops to fine dining establishments. Fabyan Forest Preserve is a delightful escape with walking trails, a Japanese garden, and the historical Fabyan Villa Museum. Christmas Walk, held in December, is a festive time with beautifully decorated shops, horse-drawn carriage rides, and the Santa Lucia Children’s Procession.

Springfield, Illinois

Springfield is the heart of Lincoln’s country. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum offers an immersive look into the life and legacy of the 16th U.S. President. You can also visit the Lincoln Home, the only house Lincoln ever owned. The Illinois State Capitol building, with its impressive architecture, is worth a visit, too. Fall and spring are ideal for visiting, offering moderate temperatures and beautiful blooms and foliage.

Galena, Illinois

Stepping into Galena is like stepping back in time, with its well-preserved 19th-century buildings lining the downtown district. The Ulysses S. Grant Home, a well-preserved Italianate structure, offers a glimpse into post-Civil War life. The town’s rolling hills provide a beautiful backdrop, especially during fall when the leaves change color. Winter often brings opportunities for skiing or snowboarding at Chestnut Mountain Resort.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

This resort town offers a variety of outdoor activities. Watersports are popular in the summer, with boat rentals, parasailing, and lake cruises available. Golfers will find several top-rated courses in the area. The Geneva Lake Shore Path, a 21-mile trail around the lake, offers stunning views and passes historic estates. The area is beautiful year-round, but fall foliage and winter snows make for especially picturesque visits.

South Bend, Indiana

The University of Notre Dame, with its iconic golden dome, beautiful campus, and rich football tradition, is a major draw. Meanwhile, the Studebaker National Museum and the History Museum offer insightful historical exhibits. A walk along the river or through one of South Bend’s parks is a great way to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.

Naperville, Illinois

The Riverwalk, with its covered bridges, beautiful fountains, and manicured landscapes, is a picturesque spot for a stroll. History enthusiasts will enjoy Naper Settlement, a 12-acre museum with interactive exhibits on pioneer life. The DuPage Children’s Museum offers interactive science, math, and art exhibits. Naperville hosts various festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything from art to apples.

Rockford, Illinois

The Anderson Japanese Gardens are a serene retreat, designed with elements of a 12th-century “pond strolling” garden. The Discovery Center Museum is an interactive science and space museum, perfect for kids. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens offers beautiful plant displays in an impressive glass structure. Visit during spring for beautiful blooms or during winter for their festive holiday displays.

Saugatuck, Michigan

This charming lakeside town is a haven for art enthusiasts with its numerous galleries and the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. Oval Beach and Saugatuck Dunes State Park offer beautiful sand dunes and swimming spots. Hiking to the top of Mount Baldhead, a dune that offers panoramic views, is a rewarding experience.

Oak Park, Illinois

This suburb is known for its architecture. Tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, and a self-guided walking tour of the surrounding neighborhood, offer insights into Wright’s pioneering designs. The Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum provides an intimate look into the early life of the Nobel Prize-winning author.

Kenosha, Wisconsin

This lakeside town is steeped in history. The Civil War Museum offers interactive exhibits, and the Kenosha Public Museum features natural science and fine and decorative arts exhibits. The downtown area, with its electric streetcar system, offers a variety of shopping and dining options.

Peoria, Illinois

On Peoria’s riverfront, you’ll find the Peoria Riverfront Museum, with its planetarium and sculpture garden. Wildlife Prairie State Park offers the chance to see native Illinois animal species in naturalistic habitats. Luthy Botanical Garden, with its beautiful themed gardens and conservatory, is a treat for nature lovers.

Madison, Wisconsin

This vibrant city offers a mix of urban and natural attractions. The Wisconsin State Capitol building, with its stunning architecture and views from the observation deck, is a must-visit. Families will love Madison’s Children’s Museum, while the Olbrich Botanical Gardens offer a peaceful retreat.

Exploring With Private Bus Rentals

Exploring these delightful destinations can be made even more enjoyable when you don’t have to worry about getting there, finding the right place, or looking for parking. This is where a private bus rental is an excellent idea. It offers comfort, convenience, and a flexible schedule perfectly tailored to your needs. And booking a private bus rental is as simple as a few clicks – just provide us with your trip details and the number of passengers. We’ll take it from there! Wondering why you should choose our private bus rental service? We deliver a reliable, top-quality service, making your journey as enjoyable as your destination.


The possibilities for day trips from Chicago are plentiful, with a variety of destinations to suit everyone’s interests. With our private bus rental service, you can enjoy these trips to the fullest!


What are some good day trips from Chicago?

Some great day trip destinations include Starved Rock State Park, Milwaukee, Galena, Lake Geneva, and Madison.

How can I book a private bus rental service for my trip?

You can book our service by providing the details of your trip and the number of passengers.

What can I do on these day trips from Chicago?

Activities vary by destination, including hiking, museum visits, exploring historic sites, and enjoying local cuisine.

Can I use a private bus rental service for any group size?

Yes, our service caters to a variety of group sizes. Just provide us with the details and we’ll arrange the rest.

How far are these day trip destinations from Chicago?

Most of these destinations are within a one to three-hour drive from Chicago.