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Best Day Trips For Under $100 In The Chicago Area

Everyone needs a getaway once in a while and sometimes the whole family or couple needs a getaway together; however it is not always easy to take a mini-vacation because many families and couples are on a limited budget. Fortunately, there are day trips that can be taken in the Chicago area that are fun and will not break the bank.


Indiana Dunes State Park
1600 N. 25 E.
Chesterton, IN 46304
(219) 926-1952

The Indiana Dunes State Park is only about a 45-minute drive from downtown Chicago, yet the atmosphere of the Indiana Dunes makes it feel like it is many miles away. The State Park is 2,182 acres of pure enjoyment and includes a beach, trails available in summer and winter, camping and even a Nature Center which has many hands-on activities that help individuals explore the wonders of the Indiana Dunes. Be sure to check out the website for two savings packages.

Starved Rock State Park
Route 178 & Route 71
Utica, IL 61373
(800) 868-7625

Starved Rock was voted the #1 attraction in the State of Illinois and for good reason, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy at the park and the cost to visit Starved Rock is very economical. There are hiking trails, camping and picnic areas, paddle boats and water cruises, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, horseback riding, trolley tours and park programs, plus much more. Starved Rock State Park is less than 100 miles from the City of Chicago and an easy day's drive.

Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
(847) 835-5440

A day trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden is a great way for a couple to spend the day outdoors and view all the beautiful blooms. A train taken to Braeside Station (Highland Park) will be about a one-mile walk to the Chicago Botanic Gardens and will save on transportation costs as the Botanic Garden charges $25 for parking. After a day well spent at the gardens, take a walk to the Ravinia Music Festival for a concert and dinner. There are many numerous dining options there or a picnic basket can be packed with food and wine.

Related: Best Winter Road Trip Destinations Near Chicago

The City of Naperville, IL
400 S. Eagle St.
Naperville, IL 60540
(630) 420-6111

The City of Naperville, IL has many activities, events, stores and restaurants. Visiting the town is a fun day trip that can be done within budget.  Centennial Beach is a family-fun place that includes a beach for swimming, picnic area, slide and playground. The Naperville Settlement is also nearby that offers a historic museum village with costumed villagers and takes visitors on a journey back in time. There are special events and activities held throughout the year at the Naperville Settlement.  The downtown Naperville area offers quaint shops and many eating establishments as well.

Lake Geneva, WI
Lake Geneva Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
201 Wrigley Drive
Lake Geneva, WI 53147
(262) 248-4416

There are a variety of small shops and restaurants to visit in Lake Geneva and the outdoor activities are just about endless. They include golfing, hiking, biking, zip-lining or walking the Geneva Lake shore path where the beautiful homes of the area can be viewed in very close range. Boat rentals are also available as well as cruise boat excursions; the town offers activities for all ages year round.

Related: Ask A Chicago Guide: Packing List For Your Next Campout

Michelle Guilbeau is an elementary teacher living in Elgin, Illinois. She has also experience in school administration and literacy coaching. Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on

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