Sometimes you just need a little break from the city. Fortunately, there are dozens of great road trips to take from Chicago with destinations less than three hours away. So grab a friend, your keys, and head outta town to any of these awesome destinations!
Behind the Wheel of the 2019 Mazda CX-5 SUV
Because I live downtown Chicago where everything is a quick walk or uber ride away, I actually don't own a car anymore. It's great for my bank account, but every once in a while, I wish I could easily hop in a car for a quick getaway. So when the opportunity came up to borrow a Mazda CX-5, I was stoked!
The 2019 Mazda CX-5 is luxurious without getting too pricy. Mazda lent me the signature-level CX-5 that came with Napa leather trim, Apple Car Play, and 360 monitors with front and back cameras that made parking a cinch! Thank you to Mazda for hooking me up with this sexy SUV so I could leave the city for a few days. But before I did, I teamed up with videographer Aron Ianchici to shoot the smooth-riding CX-5 in Chicago. Check it out, and let me know what you think on Instagram @heylizzyfay!
The Best Road Trips to Take From Chicago
#1 Hike at Starved Rock
Location: 2668 E 875th Rd, Oglesby, IL
Time from Chicago: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Starved Rock is one of the top attractions in the entire state of Illinois! With stunning canyons and waterfalls, this outdoor adventure is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can go fishing, boating and explore 13 miles of trails.
#2 Ride Roller Coasters at Six Flags
Location: 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, IL
Time from Chicago: 1 hour
Six Flags Great America is an amusement park with thrilling rides, roller coasters and a 20-acre water park! Maxx Force, a triple-record breaking roller coaster opens Summer 2019. The coaster reaches 78 MPH in less than two seconds and features the highest double inversion at 175 feet and the fastest inversion of any coaster in the world!
#3 Enjoy a Concert at Ravinia
Location: 418 Sheridan Rd, Highland Park, IL
Time from Chicago: 50 minutes
In the warmer months, check out a concert at North America’s oldest music festival. The 36-acre park is nestle in a wooded area in a northern suburb of Chicago. A range of artists like Lady Gaga, Yo-Yo Ma and John Legend have performed at Ravinia. Most people bring a picnic blanket, wine and snacks. There is even a train that stops right at Ravinia from Ogilvie Transportation Center.
#4 Pamper Yourself at the American Club
Location: 419 Highland Dr, Kohler, WI
Time from Chicago: 2 hours 30 minutes
This five-star resort is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is recognized as one of the most luxurious resorts in the Midwest. Enjoy the spa, golf, exercise, indulge in food and wine, and explore the Kohler Design Center. The American Club is a relaxing getaway any time of year.
#5 Relax on Delavan Lake
Location: 2400 Geneva St, Delavan, WI
Time from Chicago: 1 hour 45 minutes
Not far from Lake Geneva, you’ll find this quieter lake that is great for boating and fishing. Stay at the lakefront resort, Lake Lawn Lodge. It’s so peaceful on the lake. I’ve been going up here my whole life!
#6 Tour Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture in Oak Park
Location: 951 Chicago Ave, Oak Park, IL
Time from Chicago: 20 minutes
Oak Park is home to the world’s largest collection of renowned architect, Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs. Visit Wright-designed sites including his first home where he tested his design concepts. Guided and self-guided tours are available.
#7 Go on a Brewery Tour in Milwaukee
Location: 1872 N Commerce St, Milwaukee, WI
Time from Chicago: 1 hour 50 minutes
This lively city is like a more manageable, mini Chicago. You have Lake Michigan, museums, professional sports teams, hip neighborhoods, and excellent dining options. Home to Miller Coors, the city loves its beer ( and cheese)! Be sure to check out Lakefront Brewery and the Milwaukee Art Museum while you’re in town too. You can drive or take the Amtrak from Union Station.
#8 Go Shopping at Chicago Premium Outlets
Location: 1650 Premium Outlet Blvd, Aurora, IL
Time from Chicago: 40 minutes
Find deals on more than 170 stores at Chicago Premium Outlets including Kate Spade, Restoration Hardware Outlet, Adidas, Nike, Coach, Polo Ralph Lauren, and more!
#9 Enjoy History & Shopping in Galena
Location: S Main St. Galena, IL
Time from Chicago: 3 hours
This charming, historic town is a great place for shopping, culture, and dining. Galena is known for its well-preserved 19th century buildings and quintessential downtown. Visit the home of President Ulysses S. Grant, go antiquing, and eat at the famous Fried Green Tomatoes restaurant.
#10 Explore the Chicago Botanic Garden
Location: 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL
Time from Chicago: 40 Minutes
Explore 30 distinct gardens in one place. Use your smartphone for a self-guided walking tour and admire the beautiful scenery. You can also find bike trails, bike rentals and birding classes at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
#11 Enjoy the Tranquil Anderson Japanese Gardens
Location: 318 Spring Creek Rd, Rockford, IL
Time from Chicago: 1 hour and 45 minutes
For a peaceful escape from the city, head to Anderson Japanese Gardens. Master Craftsman Hoichi Kurisu designed this beautiful space. You can enjoy breakfast or lunch at the garden’s cafe.
#12 Get Active at the Indiana Dunes
Location: 1600 N 25 E, Chesterton, IN
Time from Chicago: 1 hour
The Indiana Dunes offer 15 miles of sandy beach and 50 miles of trails. It is recognized as one of the nation's National Parks! You can visit all year for hiking, biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.
#13 Visit the Animals at Brookfield Zoo
Location: 8400 W 31st St, Brookfield, IL
Time from Chicago: 35 minutes
Meet more than 2,000 animals at this 200-acre zoo. Through the zoo’s Animal Encounters you can even pet a penguin or feed a giraffe!
#14 Explore Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens
Location: 1354 N 2nd St, Rockford, IL
Time from Chicago: 1 hour 50 minutes
With more than 11,000 square feet of tropical plants and flowers, the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens is a beautiful place to explore. It sits along the Rock River in downtown Rockford, Illinois, so you can check out the city while you’re in town. I actually used to live walking-distance to the conservatory when I was a TV news reporter for Rockford’s NBC station!
#15 Take a Scenic Stroll through Morton Arboretum
Location: 4100 IL-53, Lisle, IL 60532
Time from Chicago 45 minutes
Walk along tree-lines trails to view more than 200 plants from all over the world. There are family-friendly events year round at the Morton Arboretum. Look out for six giant troll sculptures made of reclaimed wood. They make for a great photo!
#16 Climb the Warren Dunes
Location: 12032 Red Arrow Hwy, Sawyer, MI
Time from Chicago: 1 hour 25 minutes
Warren Dunes State Park is a 1,952-acre Michigan state park with large sandy beaches along Lake Michigan. I used to come here as a kid! Pack a picnic and plenty of SPF, and make a day of it!
#17 Go Wine Tasting in New Buffalo
Location: New Buffalo, Michigan
Time from Chicago: 1 hour 20 minutes
Head to Michigan for a quick and peaceful beach getaway. From hiking, shopping, and wine tasting there is plenty to do. This was my first trip with Kam and we had an amazing time going to the beach, renting bikes, and wine tasting! We stayed overnight in the cutest bed & breakfast.
#18 Take a trip to “Little Switzerland” in New Glarus
Location: 2400 WI-69, New Glarus, WI
Time from Chicago: 2 hours 45 minutes
Take a trip to this charming little town and you’ll feel as though you’ve arrived in Switzerland.You’ll find unique restaurants, hotels, and shopping with a Swiss touch. The main attraction is the New Glarus Brewing Company which brews popular beer, Spotted Cow -- which is only sold in Wisconsin.
#19 Explore the State Capital of Wisconsin
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Time from Chicago: 3 hours
Madison is recognized as progressive and green city with a lot to offer. You can visit the capitol building (which has a great farmer’s market around it in the summer), enjoy the arts, explore the outdoors including Lake Mendota, shop a super-cute boutiques and find the best brat. Madison is also home to the University of Wisconsin.
#20 Visit the Baha'i House of Worship
Location: 100 Linden Ave, Wilmette, IL
Time from Chicago: 45 minutes
The Baha'i House of Worship is the oldest surviving Baha'i House of Worship in the world and the only one in North America. The architecture is breathtaking and aims to illustrate Baha'i concepts of oneness. At the temple, there are no clergy, sermons or rituals, but it serves as a quiet space for prayer and service.
#21 Go Boating in Lake Geneva
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Time from Chicago: Hour and 30 Minutes
With a lake that covers more than 4,500 acres, Lake Geneva is perfect for boating and kayaking. Take a walk on the 21-mile Lake Geneva Shore Path for gorgeous views the town's impressive waterfront homes. You can also enjoy zip-lining, shopping and dining. While I love visiting in the summer, Lake Geneva in the fall is exceptionally beautiful. (Check out my blog post about it!)
Hit the Road!
I hope these ideas inspire you to explore some of the attractions and cities around Chicago. Some of them are great day trips, but you can definitely turn many of these road trips from Chicago into weekend getaways. Are there any road trip ideas I left off the list? Leave them in the comments below!
Now, if you want to see more of the gorgeous 2019 Mazda CX-5, check out the photos below. The interior is just so chic! Thanks again to Aron Ianchici (@aronianchici on Instagram) for capturing these photos! Don't forget to pin this post for later.
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SHOP THE LOOK
Comfy block heels: Nordstrom (on sale!) | Frayed hem jeans: Nordstrom | Tank Top: Express | Sunglasses: J.Crew (on sale!)
Thank you to Mazda for partnering with me on this post! Be sure to check out How to Get Around Chicago (advice & apps you need) as well as the VIP Ferris Wheel Experience at Navy Pier.
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