6 Perfect Campgrounds Near Chicago for Your Weekend Getaways
Don’t you dare waste a single summer weekend
There are a few things that every Chicagoan knows: how to successfully order from Wiener Circle, how to navigate Lower Wacker and, perhaps most importantly, how to make the most of the warm summer months.
One thing that should be on everyone’s bucket list before the next Chiberia hits? A camping trip to one of the area’s many lakeside campgrounds. See our top picks of where to spend your precious Paid Time Off days below.
Love the idea of camping but wish it involved 100% less sharing communal bathrooms with strangers? This site has you covered. With two sites available (book both to ensure complete privacy), the spot gives you private access to the spring-fed Lake Nicholas, plus 150 acres for hiking, bicycling and taking selfies for your Instagram stories.
Bonus: It’s also a working ranch, with horses onsite, giving you a chance to live out all your Yellowstone fantasies.
The Kohler-Andrae State Park offers everything you need for a perfect summer camping experience — like 1,000 acres of lake and woodland space, fire rings and picnic tables and 8.5 miles of nature trails.
The campground has more than 130 tent and RV sites, including ones with electrical hook-ups. There are also showers, a playground, an amphitheater and on-site laundry facilities.
Who needs Miami Beach when you have the Indiana Dunes? A well-kept Chicago secret, the Indiana Dunes National Park is one of the most beautiful spots in the Midwest (heck, maybe in the country), with 15,000 natural acres spanning 15 miles of gorgeous Lake Michigan shoreline.
The Dunewood Campground is located in the heart of the national park, with 66 campsites — including 54 drive-in and 12 walk-in — and communal restrooms and showers. Campers can get their fill of the Great Outdoors, with easy access to lakeside sand dunes, forests, prairies, riverfront and wetlands.
Some people don’t blink an eye at the idea of spending the night on the cold, hard ground, surrounded by bugs and bears. For others, camping means sleeping on a Tempurpedic mattress in your own private yurt.
If you’re in the latter group, Camp Manitowa in Southern Illinois’ Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge is the spot for you. With comfortable yurts in a beautiful spot next to the Little Grassy Lake, the campground also offers a wide range of activities for guests — including hiking, frisbee golf, arts and crafts, campfires and much more.
Illinois Beach State park may be less than 50 miles outside of the city, but it feels like a whole world away from your delayed Red Line commute.
The only remaining beach ridge shoreline left in the state, Illinois Beach State Park is a nature lover’s dream, home to more than 650 species of plants, a marsh and a 4,160-acre park. Check out the Zion Bike Trail, check out the black oak forests and take a swim in Lake Michigan without having to step over hoards of people at North Ave Beach.
The park’s campground offers 241 sites with electricity and easy access to showers and restrooms.
With both tent camping and rustic cabins (read: no Netflix in sight), Weko Beach Campground — located just under two hours outside of Chicago — offers gorgeous Lake Michigan views, plus a boat launch, kayak rentals and hiking trails.
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