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February 21, 2023

Best Travel Destinations From Chicago

While cities offer plenty to do, spending too much time in one place can start to feel repetitive. Fortunately, Chicago is close to several remarkable places offering a change of scenery for an exciting day or weekend trip. Here's our list of the best nearby trips from Chicago you won't want to miss.  

Grand Rapids, Michigan 

If you're searching for the best weekend trips from Chicago by car, Grand Rapids is only a few hours away. Located to the east of Lake Michigan, this city sits along the Grand River and is full of outdoor recreation and world-class attractions. 

For lovers of art and nature, the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a premier horticultural display garden you won't want to miss. The John Ball Zoo also offers a journey into nature with a large selection of animal habitats and wildlife conservation programming.  

Madison, Wisconsin 

Located 2.5 miles from Chicago, Madison offers a variety of restaurants, shops, parks, and free museums to explore. Families will have a blast with the city's kid-friendly offerings, including Olbrich Botanical Gardens, a 16-acre outdoor garden showcasing several types of Midwestern plants. 

After your outdoor adventure, take a tour of the Wisconsin State Capitol and delve deep into the state's hundred years of history. Tour arrangements can be scheduled in advance.  

Starved Rock State Park 

If quick trips from Chicago are more your speed, Starved Rock State Park is only 1.5 hours away. Voted as the No. 1 attraction in the state of Illinois, the park has beautiful scenery with 13 miles of trails to explore and seasonal waterfalls in the spring.  

Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of several activities, including fishing, boating, and camping. For the more adventurous type, the park also offers whitewater rafting.  

Galena, Illinois 

For history buffs, Galena is the perfect destination. Only 3 hours from Chicago, this small town in northwest Illinois makes for a great weekend trip full of rolling vineyards and rich history. Enjoy top cuisine at one of Galena's restaurants before hitting Main Street for a shopping excursion. 

Galena is consistently rated one of the best small towns in America. With its extensive offering of unique historic buildings and museums, it's obvious why. From the lavish Italianate mansion, The Belvedere, to the Galena & U.S. Grant History Museum, there's a part of history for everyone to enjoy.  

Allegan County, Michigan 

Nestled along the banks of the Kalamazoo River, Allegan County is a charming and historic town located in West Michigan. Located about 2 hours from Chicago, the area is home to many beautiful beaches and parks. Oval Beach is noteworthy for its grassy dunes, scenic waterways, and thriving art scene.  

After spending a day in the sun, head out to Water Street Gallery, the most popular display of original art in the Midwest. The county also offers various restaurants and shops to explore. Butler Street in Saugatuck is a shopping hotspot full of local favorites and family-owned businesses. It's also one of the most popular attractions in the area.  

If one of these destinations is calling your name, Zipcar can help you get there. Download the app on your phone and start planning your next trip.