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Best Family Day Trips Outside of Chicago

Sometimes it's nice to venture outside the city limits and explore a new area with the family. It's great to teach kids that there is a lot more in the world beyond the skyscrapers, taxis and city parks. Here are a few places that are great for day trips.

Best Family Day Trips Outside of Chicago
Best Family Day Trips Outside of Chicago

Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum is located in Lisle, IL and would be a nice place to teach kids about nature. They recently opened a new kids garden that has two main areas with ten themed gardens to explore. If the family is getting a little tired, they offer a tram ride that takes you around to see the sights. Bring your bikes to pedal around on designated paved pathways or just bring your walking shoes for a leisurely stroll . If you get hungry, stop at the Ginkgo Restaurant & Café to feed your needs.

Admission Fees
$11 Adults (18–64)
$10 Seniors (65+)
$8 Youth (2–17)
Children under 2 are free
Admission includes free parking

4100 Illinois Route 53
Lisle, IL 60532

Starved Rock State Park
Located in Utica, IL, about an hour and a half outside of Chicago, is one of the great state parks of Illinois. The Illinois River runs along side the park where sometimes bald eagles can be viewed flying overhead. Plenty of hiking trails lead you through the park taking you to some spectacular waterfalls. Be cautious though if there has been no rain for a while because the waterfalls might be smaller than normal.

Pack a picnic and eat at the picnic tables outside the visitor's center, or just take a seat in front of a waterfall and enjoy the view while eating. Fall is one of the best times to visit and take in all the great autumn colors. However, winter can be great when the waterfalls freeze.

Address to use for GPS or online directions:
2668 East 875th Road
Oglesby, IL 61348

Indiana Dunes State Park
A little less than an hour southeast of Chicago in Chesterton, IN are the great sand dunes on the southern shores of Lake Michigan. You can visit the dunes for the day or even pack a tent and stay the night at the campgrounds if you're in the mood for an overnight adventure. Whatever you choose, you're bound to enjoy exploring the hiking trails. Or if you rather enjoy the three-mile stretch of white, sandy beaches pack a bathing suit and a lunch and relax.

1600 North 25 East
Chesterton, Indiana

Six Flags Great America
Older kids might be a little over the whole family hiking trip and are looking for a bit more thrill in their lives. In that case, head north to Gurnee, IL and enjoy a day of riding roller coasters and eating carnival food. If you have a younger child, there is still plenty to do in the new Wiggles World that will keep them entertained and happy. Make sure to visit their website for a list of all their rides by category and for when they are open. Certain rides are closed at certain times of the year and park hours change after the summer is over.

1 Great America Parkway
Gurnee, IL 60031
847-249- 4636

Lake Geneva

This could be summed up with fun for the whole family. There is a little bit of something for everyone in Lake Geneva. Only 75 miles northwest of Chicago, it isn't too far for a nice day trip. Whether you're heading northwest to visit orchards, petting zoos, adventure parks or hiking trails, the possibilities seem to be endless. There are even quite a few restaurants for family dining. Make sure to visit the Lake Geneva website before you leave to see if there are any events happening in town worth stopping by to visit.

Lake Geneva Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
201 Wrigley Drive
Lake Geneva, WI 53147

Rachel Azark is a writer and lives on Chicago's northwest side. Read more of her work on her blog

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