Easy Chicago Day Trip Mini Vacations

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. This helps support what we do and in no way costs you a thing.

Even though Chicago is a city full of great things to do, city life can get to you. Around Chicago, some pretty incredible destinations appeal to all types and interests, and because they are only a couple of hours away, you can go and come in a day. First, decide what it is you want to do for the day away from the city. Then choose a destination based on what they are known for and match that. The next thing you know, you have a fantastic Chicago day trip planned!

day trips from chicago

Do you want to stroll through a small town, take a ride down a river, see Lake Michigan differently, or shop your heart out? There is something within a day’s journey of Chicago to enjoy!

Easy Chicago Day Trip Mini Vacations


The city of Aurora has changed so much in just the last five years, making it into a perfect destination for everyone. The addition of the new, state of the art River View Music Park is changing the way Aurora celebrates music and summer. It brings artists both big and small out to the suburbs of Chicago. Aurora has it’s own downtown shopping area that offers lots of options. You can stroll around to shop or get a look at the fascinating architecture that still exists from the time Aurora was established.

Don’t feel like driving for your outing? Hop a train to get out to Aurora where you can attend a festival, bike the Prairie Trail, rent a kayak, visit the casino, or even shop the Chicago Premium Outlets.

St. Charles and Geneva

St. Charles and Geneva lie along the Fox River, and each of them has a lot of small-town charm mixed with a downtown vibe. Each has a downtown district that is filled with an eclectic mix of shops. There are boutiques, restaurants, and salons that cater both locals and out of towners. Both also sit along the prairie trail, so you can ride from one to the other in under an hour, having lunch in Geneva and then shopping for antiques in St. Charles. Boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts abound, some of them are even historic.


Zion, Illinois, sits along the shores of Lake Michigan, north of the city of Chicago. A considerable majority of Zion is protected land that makes up a state park with pristine beaches, dunes, marshes, and oak forest. Families, campers, and day guests are free to come and go, though if you want to camp, you’ll need to make a reservation. Go here for a day away from it all, where you can enjoy nature and see Lake Michigan in a whole different way.


Milwaukee is Chicago’s closest big city and entirely doable in a day. It has altogether different city trappings than what you are used to in Chicago. Foodies that love Chicago will find whole new reasons to like Milwaukee. Art museums, farmer’s markets, shopping, recreation, and world-class dining options all have something to offer that represents what most of Wisconsin is all about.

With all of these great options, it is easy to see how much fun you can have when only a short distance from the city. Is there a place you love to go that we didn’t talk about? Let us know!

Other posts you may enjoy: