Five Best Small-Town Getaways from Chicago

It seems like this spring was on fast-forward in Chicago, doesn’t it? If you’re suddenly staring down summer and realize you don’t have vacation plans worked out just yet, never fear: there are several great destinations just a car ride away from the Windy City. Here are our top picks for small town getaways that will have you embracing summer in no-time.

A pier over the lake in Madison.
A pier over the lake in Madison, Wisconsin.
1. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Athletic types will love the 26-mile (that’s a marathon!) Lake Geneva Shore Path that winds its way around the entire lake. And when you’re ready to dive in, you’ll have your pick of sandy beachfronts including the Big Foot Beach State Park, Riviera Beach, or Williams Bay Beach.

Where To Stay: Hampton Inn Elkhorn Lake Geneva


Culture and art is the name of the game in Grand Rapids where you can start your exploration at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, followed by a jaunt through the extensive Grand Rapids Public Museum. For dessert, don’t forget a stop in the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

Where To Stay: Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton

3. Madison, Wisconsin

If communing with nature is more your thing, set your sights on Madison where you can spend your days exploring the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Henry Villas Zoo, and University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. Continue your green journey with a stop at any of the city’s fantastic vegetarian restaurants.

Where To Stay: DoubleTree by Hilton Madison Downtown

4. Fox River Valley, Illinois

The Fox River Valley includes a number of picturesque small towns following the path of the mighty river. Spend your days exploring the Buffalo Rock State Park or sipping your way through the area wineries and craft breweries before ending your stay with a drive-in movie at the McHenry Outdoor Theater.

Where To Stay: Hampton Inn Yorkville

5. South Bend, Indiana

It’s no surprise that South Bend is synonymous with Notre Dame University, but a visit to this college town is just as memorable when the students are gone for the summer. Explore the deserted campus to take in the beautiful architecture and landscaping, then in the evenings explore the River Lights Plaza for an interactive light exhibit along the banks of the St. Joseph River.

Where To Stay: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel South Bend

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This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Whitney M. Are you interested in traveling to Chicago? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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