Chicago is one of the most vibrant cities in the United States, and it offers a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors. But if you are looking to explore beyond the city limits, there are plenty of great places to visit nearby. From historic sites to charming towns, here are some of the best places to visit near Chicago.
Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park is located about two hours southwest of Chicago in Oglesby, IL. The park features 18 canyons carved into sandstone bluffs by melting ice during the Ice Age. It also has 13 miles of hiking trails that offer stunning views of the Illinois River Valley. Visitors can explore miles of wooded trails and observe over 250 species of birds and other wildlife. In addition, Starved Rock has a variety of waterfalls, including French Canyon Falls which is one of the highest in Illinois at 104 feet tall.
Galena is a charming small town located about three hours west of Chicago in Jo Daviess County, IL. It is known for its historic downtown district with over 100 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can explore Main Street and visit local shops selling antiques, art galleries, and specialty stores. The town also offers a variety of outdoor activities including fishing on Lake Galena or hiking on one of several nearby trails. In addition, Galena hosts several festivals throughout the year such as its annual Wine Fest in June which celebrates local wineries and wine makers from around the region.
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is located about an hour southeast from downtown Chicago along Lake Michigan’s shoreline in northwest Indiana. It consists of 15 miles along Lake Michigan with towering sand dunes that reach up to 200 feet high and provide spectacular views across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin . Visitors can enjoy swimming on one of many beaches or take part in outdoor activities such as fishing or kayaking on Lake Michigan . The national lakeshore also features over 50 miles trails for hiking , biking , or horseback riding . Nature lovers will also appreciate more than 350 species birds , mammals , amphibians , reptiles , fish , plants , fungi , and more .
Overall, there are many great places to visit near Chicago that offer unique experiences for visitors looking to explore beyond city limits . Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures or historical attractions , there’s something for everyone within a short drive from downtown Chicago . From Starved Rock State Park to The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore , these nearby destinations offer visitors plenty opportunities to create lasting memories during their time near Chicago .