Chicago, Illinois, USA
Despite the never-ending possibilities for amusement a city the size of Chicago provides, you might still wish to get away and do some small-scale traveling while you’re in the area. What could there possibly be to do in the Midwest besides Chicago? If you’ve got a couple days, a ride, and possibly a tent, you’ll find more than you might think.
There are myriad nature preserves, wildlife refuges and state parks scattered within an easy drive of the city, so if you’re up for camping, you’re in luck.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
How to get there (from the website):
By car – Visitors can access the national lakeshore via Interstate Highway I-94, the Indiana Toll Road, I-80/90 U.S. 20, or Indiana State Hwy 12 and various state roads.
By Public Transportation – The Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad stops at several stations throughout the park. The shore is about 50 miles from Chi-town.
How Much: Camping is $15/night.
Why go there: The park is a mile or so from Lake Michigan, and although you might have already noted that you’re no longer in Illinois, it might not look much like you’re in Indiana, either. The big attractions are the dunes themselves, which admittedly seem a little out of place in the Midwest. Along with hiking, camping, swimming, and bogging, playing on the dunes is great fun.
All Things Quaint
There is no shortage of cutesy in the Midwest. You may think you know cutesy, but until you’ve spent time here, you have no idea.
How to get there: take 90W to route 47 North until you get there (90 miles north of Chicago near the Illinois/Wisconsin border)
How much: How much do you want to spend?
Why go there: While Geneva has a reputation as a resort getaway for wealthy Chicagoans, the 21 mile lake is beautiful and there is hiking to be done. Plus, you get to say you went to Geneva. Oh, and “The Young and the Restless” began here, as did the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game. And you can tour pioneer and Victorian homes to get a taste of how things used to be. Mostly, though, it’s cutesy at its cutesiest.
Bring Your Huffy
If you’re a biker, you’re in luck.
Kettle Moraine State Forest
How to get there: I-94 N for two hours to Eagle, Wisconsin.
How much: It can add up; you’ll need a vehicle admission sticker ($10/day), a state trail pass for doing anything but hiking on certain trails ($4/day), and camping fees are $10-12/night (add $3 for a water view!)
Why go there: The trails are the best around for mountain biking, with plenty of hills to keep things interesting. Bike trails are from 2 miles to 10 miles long, or you can backpack to an overnight shelter. You’ll find hiking, swimming, picnicking, horse riding, cross-country skiing in the winter, and even fishing and hunting.
Don’t tell me you expected to come to the Midwest and not roll your eyes at anything.
Gold Pyramid House
37921 N. Dilleys Rd.
Wadsworth, IL 60083
Phone: (847) 662-7777
Why go there: “Eccentric” doesn’t quite cover this perfectly to scale replica of the Great Pyramid at Giza. It’s an actual house, built by an actual rich person, who seems to actually live in it (while giving tours, of course). It not only includes a replica of King Tut’s tomb and a 64-foot tall statue of Ramses, but holds the record for being the largest gold-plated object in the world. Truly a strange sight in the middle of Illinois.
How Long Does it Take: Driving Times to Other Cities
To St. Louis, MO – 4.5 hours
To Indianapolis, IN – 3 hours, but feels like much longer
To Detroit, MI – 4.5 hours
To Louisville, KY – 5 hours
To Cincinnati, OH – 5 hours
To Toronto, Ontario (Canada) – 8.5 hours
To New York, NY – 12 hours, but driving across Pennsylvania is torturously boring
To Denver, CO – 15 hours
To Los Angeles, CA – 31 hours
To Portland, OR – 31 hours