It's funny how a vacation that may start out sounding cheap becomes more expensive as activities are add. Even getting there and back adds up as gas prices stay high. Among the ways to keep a weekend getaway reasonable is to stay close to home or take advantage of natural areas such as lakes and parks. Here are five places to take a long weekend trip that include lodging suggestions that shouldn't over-stretch the wallet.
Crowne Plaza Lombard Downers Grove
1250 Roosevelt Road
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
Because Du Page County is so close to Chicago's sights, it is arguably easy to overlook its gems. A great way to take advantage of them for a weekend of exploring is to stay at the Crown Plaza Lombard Downers Grove in Glen Ellyn just east of Interstate 355. The hotel has a huge swimming pool for youngsters to play and adults to do laps. It also has Glen Prairie Restaurant, a Du Page dining destination. Click here to decide what to fit in over a long weekend. Among its lesser-known treasures is the Sheldon Peck Homestead, a small historic house in Lombard on the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network list. It has copies of Peck's fabulous folk art. Another place that should be on the must-stop list is the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Visit its fabulous children's section, maze and walking paths. Adults can make the weekend special with a tour and tasting at Lynfred Winery in Roselle.
Starved Rock State Park Lodge and Cabins
County Highway 178 and Illinois Highway 71
Utica, IL 61373
Near Interstate 80 and US Highway 51 are the canyons, cliffs, waterfalls, riverboat rides and hiking paths of Starved Rock State Park. A photographer's dream and a top Illinois destination, the state park has a lodge and cabins so you can go back for a swim or relaxation break in between activities. Cabins are good for families and to have a place to eat in. However, the Lodge has dining choices. The park offers deals ranging from horseback riding, hiking and canoeing to family getaways and wine and anniversary packages. Click here for the lodge and packages.
Best Western Harborside Inn
5125 6th Ave.
Kenosha, WI 53140
Head north from Chicago to Kenosha, WI, just over the Illinois border, to go to a beach, see dinosaurs and Civil War memorabilia and take in a baseball game in an old-fashioned park. Or visit the Southport Light Station Museum on Simmons Island Park, take an electric trolley ride and do lunch at a diner featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives." You can stay at any of the hotels west of Kenosha at Interstate 94 and Wisconsin Highway 50, but to stay at a place with views of Lake Michigan, check out Best Western Harborside Inn. It's convenient to downtown and the waterfront. Click here to learn of all of the town's free and inexpensive sights. By the way, the baseball team is the Kenosha Kingfish and the restaurant is Franks Diner.
The Cove Of Lake Geneva
111 Center St.
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
There are so many places to stay in Lake Geneva, a popular resort town northwest of Chicago. A good family place is The Cove of Lake Geneva. It has an indoor/outdoor pool, is near the lake, has stay and play packages and is an all-suite hotel with a kitchen so you can eat in or go out. Sprecher's Restaurant and Pub in the building features Wisconsin beers on tap for adults and gourmet sodas on tap for everyone. The mail boat is a good choice for hearing about the lake as a society playground and seeing its big mansions. The beach and bathhouse are within walking distance, as are the town's great boutiques, restaurants and fudge and ice cream shops. Click here to find more places to stay or see.
Lake Country Inn
18 W. Merchant St.
New Buffalo, MI 49117
Spend a weekend exploring Michigan's Harbor Country, a strip of eight towns along Lake Michigan's shoreline north from the Michigan-Indiana border. Stay at Lake Country Inn for an adult escape. The Inn advertises itself as luxurious, but it is reasonably priced for the area and includes a continental breakfast. Plus, you don't have to spend a lot when visiting area beaches and bike trails. New Buffalo has a public beach but be sure to drive north to Warren Dunes State Park to enjoy its beach and explore the dunes. For places to drive, click here.
Jodie Jacobs is a veteran journalist who loves writing about Chicago, art, theater, museums and travel. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.
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