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9 Things To Do Near Chicago, IL

Chicago, Illinois is a vibrant city known for its architecture, sports teams, and diverse cultural attractions. Whether you’re looking to explore nearby parks or pick up some souvenirs from your visit, it’s hard to run out of things to do. 

From outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking to visiting museums and festivals — there are plenty of ways for locals and visitors alike can spend their days in this exciting metropolitan area. Here are some great ideas near Chicago IL that you won’t want to miss.

1. Milwaukee

Milwaukee is a city in southeastern Wisconsin, located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. It’s known for its breweries and baseball history as the home of the Major League Baseball team Milwaukee Brewers. 

The downtown is full of museums, outdoor sculptures, art galleries, and other attractions like Miller Park Stadium and the Harley-Davidson Museum. 

Outdoor activities abound at Holtzman Nature Preserve with bike trails along Oak Leaf Trail while nearby Illinois offers shopping in large retail malls near Chicago or exploring nature preserves with horseback riding or camping opportunities close by. 

CHI Navy Pier

2. Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva is a city in southeastern Wisconsin located on the northwest shore of Geneva Lake. It is a popular destination for tourists, with numerous resorts and restaurants along the lakeshore. 

Activities in Lake Geneva include boat tours, swimming, fishing, golfing at one of several courses near the lakefront, and visiting unique attractions such as The Chocolate Cafe Museum & Wrigley Drive Gardens or Yerkes Observatory. 

Visitors can also take day trips to nearby cities like Milwaukee or Madison to explore their own offerings of culture and entertainment.

3. Six Flags Great America

Six Flags Great America is an amusement park located in Gurnee, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. It features eight themed areas with over 100 rides and attractions including roller coasters, family rides, and water attractions. 

Highlights include the Mardi Gras-themed Hurricane Harbor outdoor waterpark; the huge double-track wooden rollercoaster The Raven; three inverted thrillers – Batman: The Dark Knight Hullupulse Coaster; Superman Flight of Power & Whizzer as well as X Flight & Demon dipper steel looping coaster. 

CHI Riverwalk

Guests can also enjoy music festivals throughout the summer season and during Fall Fest they get to experience their favorite carnival-type games such as ‘Test Your Strength’ plus haunted houses at Fright Fest in October.

4. Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes National Park is a scenic and recreational area along the shores of Lake Michigan near Chicago, Illinois. It consists of over 15 miles of dunes, beaches, wetlands, forests, and hiking trails. 

There are plenty of activities to choose from such as kayaking through the tranquil lakeside corridors or exploring the many species that inhabit this diverse park including birds such as hawks, owls, and much more. 

Other attractions include hang gliding over beautiful dune formations or even taking a yoga class for an unforgettable experience with nature. For those looking for adventure, there is also sandboarding across the dunes which can provide thrills like none other. 

Visitors can also enjoy relaxing on some sandy beaches while listening to live music during certain festivals in the late summer months too. With all these great things available at Indiana Dunes National Park you’ll be glad you made your way over there.

CHI Architecture river cruise

5. Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo is a giant 216-acre zoo located in the Chicago suburb of Brookfield, Illinois. It is home to over 2,000 animals from 200 different species and features many interactive exhibits that focus on the conservation and preservation of wildlife. 

There are multiple distinct zones such as Habitat Africa. The Savannah, Great Bear Wilderness, Hamill Family Play Zoo Zone for kids aged two to twelve years old with areas like Boomerang Rally mini coaster ride and Dolphin Presentation at Carousel Lagoon Amphitheatre. 

Additionally, there are other attractions such as A Carousel Ride Canada Goose Chase Adventure Train Ride through Wolf Woods Nature Walk Camel Rides Reptile House Sea Lion Pool Educational Programs Wild Encounters Bird Show Helicopter Tours Safari Gift Shop Enchanted Walks Dinosaurs Alive. plus much more.

6. Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park is a state park located within the northern Illinois town of Oglesby, approximately 90 miles southwest of Chicago. 

The breathtaking sandstone canyons and lush green woodlands are where visitors take in year-round outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. 

CHI Art Institute

Visitors might view eagles soar along the Illinois River or explore 13 miles of trails teeming with wildlife. There are Prehistoric Native American artifacts from more than 10 Native tribes at Starved Rock State Park Museum too.

7. Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio is located in Oak Park, Illinois near Chicago. The home was built between 1889 and 1895 as the primary residence of renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. 

The home features a remarkable blend of both architectural style and design, including Prairie School architecture with its blocky horizontal shape, wide eaves with deep overhangs supported by modillions, strong verticals often used to separate windows or doors into multiple sections but also serving an aesthetic purpose by drawing attention toward the gracefully snaking leaded glass windows found throughout the house’s interior.

Today it serves as a museum that offers tours seven days a week from 10:15 am-2 pm through December 30th each year—separate hour-long standard guided tours for adults cost $20 (including tax) and for children aged five to twelve are available at $12 ($14 on weekends). 

In addition, there are occasional special events such as music performances or lectures held here throughout each year, so visitors should check online before planning their tour.

CHI Museum of Science and Tech

8. Elmhurst Art Museum

The Elmhurst Art Museum is an art museum located in Chicago, Illinois. It was founded in 1997 with the mission to interact with and promote the cultural arts of modern and contemporary artists from around the world. 

The museum features a permanent collection of art exhibitions, including paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations from living American creators as well as international artists. 

On-site studios are available for workshops that explore several mediums such as painting techniques like mono-printing or encaustic painting, digital photography classes, or pottery making which requires prior registration via the website class page or by visiting their location during working hours directly. 

Additionally, they also offer guided tours regarding specific featured exhibits at different times throughout each year regionally and internationally available on their respective websites according to July 2020 updates the last date recorded.

CHI Field Museum

9. Go Ape Zipline & Adventure Park

Go Ape Zipline & Adventure Park is an adventure park located near Chicago, Illinois. It offers a range of activities for thrill seekers, including high-rope obstacle courses and canopy tours in the trees. 

You can climb on suspended ladders or glide along zip lines up to 70 feet aboveground. Along with that, there are also treetop nets and Tarzan swings as well as shorter courses designed for children aged 4+. 

The park also has picnic tables nearby so you can take a break while taking in the surrounding forest scenery.


From exploring its world-renowned skyline to taking a leisure stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago is an exciting destination with plenty of options for outdoor fun. For an unforgettable experience, take a Segway tour or check out one of its many parks and gardens. Don’t forget about museums such as The Art Institute of Chicago or the Shedd Aquarium for those looking for more indoor attractions. 

Whether you’re in town just visiting or recently relocated to Illinois, there are countless things to do near Chicago IL that won’t disappoint. Exploring the area offers something unique and memorable — it truly is one-of-a-kind city worth diving into.

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