Travel | May 6, 2022 7:15 am

6 Perfect Campgrounds Near Chicago for Your Weekend Getaways

Don’t you dare waste a single summer weekend

Rivers and Sandy Beaches along Indiana Dunes State Park
Rivers and Sandy Beaches along Indiana Dunes State Park
Steven Milligan via Getty

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. 

Warren Dunes State Park
Warren Dunes State Park
Single-Tooth Productions via Getty

A Lake of Your Own at Warren Dunes State Park

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. 

Boardwalk in Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan, Wisconsin offers camping and 2.5 miles of sandy beach.
Boardwalk in Kohler-Andrae State Park in Sheboygan, Wisconsin offers camping and 2.5 miles of sandy beach.
Jeffrey Phelps via Getty

Kohler-Andrae State Park Wisconsin 

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. 

Plus campers have easy access to many other activities — including the Sanderling Nature Center, the Ancient Shores Trail and the Kohler Spa (hey, no judgment). 

Boy hiking along dune succession trail in Indiana Dunes National Park.
Boy hiking along dune succession trail in Indiana Dunes National Park.
Jon Lauriat via Getty

Dunewood Campground

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. 

Yurt Living in Southern Illinois

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. 

Looking for even more outdoor adventures? Try out horseback riding at the nearby Giant City Stables or ziplining at Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tours.   

Gazebo at Illinois Beach State Park in the early morning
Gazebo at Illinois Beach State Park in the early morning
patty_c via Getty

Illinois Beach State Park

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. 

Weko Beach Campground

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. 

Plus when you’ve had your fill of sand and sun, take a quick trip into nearby Bridgman, a cute town filled with breweries, mini golf, u-pick blueberry farms and art studios.