savvy talks: chicago weekend fall getaways

savvy talks: chicago weekend fall getaways

Fall doesn’t last too long around here so if we're going to go on some weekend getaways we’d better get moving on these! I was looking for places where we could drive… not get on an airplane… and still get that vacation feeling we love. Here are some suggestions you may have heard about… some of these you’ll know, but others were news to me!

Listen to the talk:


  1. Indiana Dunes -- 54 miles south east of Chicago. This stretch of Lake Michigan coastline has wide sandy beaches, towering dunes, great birding, easy bike trails and interesting history. Head to neighboring Chesterton for creative burgers at the Octave Grill and a pleasant night at Dunes Walk Inn, a restored 1881 mansion.
  2. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin -- 80 miles northwest of Chicago. This is a resort town where you can go any season. It’s got hotels, resorts and restaurants hugging the lakeshore. You can go to the beach or cruise the lake when it’s warm… or attend Winterfest during the winter and take part in snow sculpting, among other things! 
  3. Michigan’s Southwest Shore -- that’s anywhere from 70 to 150 miles from Chicago. Drive through towns like New Buffalo, St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, Holland, Saugatuck and Grand Haven. Check out the beaches. There’s great shopping, lakeside restaurants and front-row views of sunsets over the lake. How far you drive is up to you – each town has its own personality. 
  4. Galena -- 163 miles west of Chicago. Super cute area with shops and restaurants, but you can also hike, cruise the river or sip local wines and taste beer.
  5. Mount Morris -- 100 miles northwest of Chicago. This is a place for biking and hiking trails in beautiful state parks… recreation bliss… and a childhood home of Ronald Reagan you can see. ​​
  6. Cedarburg, WI -- 113 miles north of Chicago. Here’s a great weekend getaway for shoppers and history buffs. Cedarburg has a Main Street that's on the National Register of Historic Places and dozens of cute buildings and 70 boutiques, chocolate shops and restaurants. It’s got a  General Store Museum (made for you, Bob) and also  the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts.
  7. Madison, WI -- 147 miles northwest of Chicago. Of course, this is where the University of Wisconsin is… but also check out the museums, shops, restaurants, farmers market and so much more!
  8. Rockford -- 90 miles west of Chicago. This place has a new revitalized downtown with a foodie scene, new cultural attractions and beautiful public gardens, word is just getting out. 
  9. Fox River Valley -- 60 miles west of Chicago. ​​This is a great place to go! There are 3 towns along a winding river, including St. Charles with lots of eats, stores, historical homes and fancy places to stay. Of course you’ve gotta visit St. Charles' historical Arcada Theater, or just 3 miles south, Geneva's shopping district, packed with boutiques… and just minutes from Oswego's charming Main Street. Check out the family-run winery.
  10. Milwaukee -- 93 miles north of Chicago. There are so many things to check out in this city. Art, music and food festivals, and a super fun downtown! Check out the Milwaukee Art Museum see Miller Park; tour the Pabst Mansion; or take a simulated motorcycle ride at the Harley-Davidson Museum.
  11.  Visit Amish Country, Indiana -- 110 miles east of Chicago. In tiny Nappanee, classic Amish Country: Visit a place where you can get 31 kinds of pie, hand-sewn gifts and homemade jellies. Some cool  treasure-hunting at the outdoor Flea Market
  12. Champaign-Urbana -- 140 south of Chicago. Home to University of Illinois, U of I… but also great outdoors, restaurants, museums, great pizza, Mexican food at Maize and do what we did… a hike at Allerton Park and Retreat Center.
  13. Starved Rock State Park in Illinois -- 100 miles southwest of Chicago. This is a remarkable pocket of land along the Illinois River that includes 18 sandstone canyons, 14 waterfalls, wildlife and birds. You can take a paddleboat excursion, guided hikes, waterfalls,  and there are constant special events and interpretive programs. You can even spend the night in a cabin (and enjoy a hearty meal) at Starved Rock Lodge.
  14. Zion -- 50 miles north of Chicago.  This is in Lake County on the Wisconsin border with family attractions and nature trails. It’s home to Illinois Beach State Park, Volo Auto Museum and The Chocolate Sanctuary. And of course, be sure to visit Six Flags Great America
  15. South Bend, Indiana -- 95 miles southeast of Chicago. Home of University of Notre Dame.
  16. Turkey Run Inn, Indiana --150 miles south of Chicago. Great place for birdwatching and hiking. It feels like you’re deep in a forest.
  17. Grand Rapids, Michigan -- 175 miles northeast of Chicago. They have an ArtPrize extravaganza that’s part art walk, part city tour. Gardens and  a Sculpture ParkFrank Lloyd Wright's Meyer May House and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum
  18. Woodstock -- 60 miles northwest of Chicago. The historic town square (famously featured in Groundhog Day) is adorable, with great home decor shops and a cozy bookstore. BTW, the annual Groundhog Day Festival is in early February. 


Comments 2

J on

Great America, Chocolate Sanctuary, and Volo Auto Museum are all very cool, but NOT in Zion!

Donna C on

This is a great list. This weekend going to Door County Wi to see the colors.
Love your page, always something interesting.
Thank you,

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