Top spots for a road trip from Chicago

Top spots for a road trip from Chicago

The Windy City has plenty to offer all kinds of people, but sometimes you just want some time away from Chicago. If you find yourself longing for an adventure that takes you elsewhere, you won’t have to book a flight or travel the world to find fun. There are numerous exciting destinations well within driving distance of the city. Learn about the top 10 best road trips from Chicago.

1. Explore scenic mountain paths in the Ozarks

Driving time from Chicago: 8.5 hours Distance from Chicago: 560 miles

If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, there’s nothing quite like the Ozark Mountains. This stunning mountain range covers almost 47,000 square miles, and all that space is packed with attractions like hiking trails and tranquil lakes for fishing or boating. Don’t forget to visit Buffalo Lookout after your road trip from Chicago to see the tallest point of the Ozarks.

2. Visit Music City in Nashville

Driving time from Chicago: 7 hours Distance from Chicago: 470 miles

Nashville, Tennessee, is known primarily for its dedication to music, so you’ll be able to find an exciting performance no matter what genres you’re into. Even outdoor performances are prominent, though you can learn all about music history at its local museums as well. Of course, Nashville is also a great place for satisfying Southern cooking.

3. Find family fun in Branson

Driving time from Chicago: 8 hours Distance from Chicago: 540 miles

If you’re looking for family-friendly fun, you won’t have to look farther than Branson, Missouri. This wholesome town has something for everyone. Not only is it relatively close to the Ozarks, but the community itself features amusement parks, delicious restaurants, and extensive shopping opportunities. Outdoor fun is especially popular, with zip lines and ropes courses for kids and adults alike.

Beach on Lake Michigan in Saugatuck

4. Relax with a trek through Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Driving time from Chicago: 2 hours Distance from Chicago: 140 miles

Located on the other side of Lake Michigan, Saugatuck Dunes State Park is an incredible destination for travelers looking to relax at the end of their road trip from Chicago. It comprises about 1,000 acres of land and features freshwater coastal dunes, with some more than 200 feet tall. This place is a hiker’s dream, but you can also enjoy the lakefront shoreline.

5. Revel in natural splendor in Door County

Driving time from Chicago: 3.5 hours Distance from Chicago: 240 miles

Up north in Wisconsin, you’ll find Door County after a relatively short road trip from Chicago. Located on a peninsula, this is one of the unique areas where you can watch a coastal sunrise and sunset in the same area. That’s just the beginning, however, as this region is also home to extensive orchards and vineyards. If wine isn’t your thing, numerous breweries call Door County home as well.

6. Discover the charming small town of Galena

Driving time from Chicago: 2.5 hours Distance from Chicago: 160 miles

The small town of Galena is a charming destination for any road trip from Chicago. The main street offers numerous colonial-style buildings with a variety of restaurants that are all locally owned. Additionally, you can enjoy the iconic County Fair, which hosts an impressive craft show, and the annual Halloween Parade.

Walking trail in the woods in Wisconsin

7. Find diverse fun in Walworth County

Driving time from Chicago: 1.5 hours Distance from Chicago: 90 miles

No matter what kind of fun you’re looking for, you can find it in Walworth County. This southern Wisconsin region features incredible natural sites as well as charming small towns. You can venture out onto one of the local lakes in a boat, or you can ride a zip line through the forest. Even shoppers can find fun in the Lake Geneva area.

8. Venture through the clear waters of Table Rock Lake

Driving time from Chicago: 8.5 hours Distance from Chicago: 560 miles

For a relaxing destination after a long road trip from Chicago, there are few spots better than Table Rock Lake near Branson. The clear water here offers extensive aquatic activities including swimming, boating, and rafting. Surrounding the lake is vibrant scenery with numerous trails for hikers to enjoy. There are almost 500 miles of shoreline, so you’ll never find yourself short of space or things to do.

9. Experience tranquil comforts in Lake Leelanau

Driving time from Chicago: 5 hours Distance from Chicago: 330 miles

Road trips from Chicago can lead to many places, but Lake Leelanau in Michigan offers a tranquil experience you can’t find anywhere else. The area is fairly remote and sparsely populated, so it’s useful for finding some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Don’t think you’ll be isolated, however, as there are plenty of small eateries and shops around the lake.

10. Enjoy endless activities in Traverse City

Driving time from Chicago: 4.5 hours Distance from Chicago: 320 miles

When you visit Traverse City, Michigan, at the end of a road trip from Chicago, you can enjoy a wide variety of activities for the whole family. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in the local culture of the city or spend time along the water for a scenic sunset, there’s never a shortage of beauty or entertainment here.