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On Lake Michigan's rugged shores, Chicago's been a hub of industry and transport since the 19th century. Today, the tradition continues not just in commerce and trade, but also tourism. Renting an RV in Chicago allows you to embark on an epic exploration of America's Heartland. After touring this centralized city, you can head north to the slightly smaller but equally fascinating port city of Milwaukee, venture west to the Mississippi River, or go south to see the sights of Indianapolis. See more of the Land of Lincoln and take a ride along the Illinois River Road Scenic Byway near Ottawa.
Amid the open prairies of northeastern Illinois and the crashing waves of the massive Lake Michigan, Chicago's urban spread is packed with cultural and historical attractions, a diverse restaurant scene, and enchanting nightlife. Stack the trip itinerary with museum tours, sporting events, and strolls through the zoo.
Fuel up the Chicago campervan rental and explore the wilds near the Windy City. Surround yourself by cascading waterfalls and lush greenery with a visit to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. This peaceful 2,500-acre haven is just 20 miles from Chicago's city center; it's an excellent place to spend a relaxing day in nature. Over ten miles of hiking trails weave throughout rolling hills and forestland, offering up-close access to the preserve's array of wildlife.
Settle in for some sun and sand with a visit to Foster Beach. On the northern edge of all the urban action, this laidback beach is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Restrooms and concessions are on-site; bring a book and a beach chair, and you're good to go. Restless after a little relaxation? Rent a bike from the beach house or splash in for a swim in Lake Michigan's refreshing (sometimes chilly) waters.
Follow in the footsteps of early French explorers along the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway, beginning in Ottawa about 90 miles southwest of Chicago and ending in Havana 130 miles farther south. The scenic byway is an outdoor lover's gateway to more than 100 nature-based destinations throughout the Illinois River Valley, the most famous of which are Starved Rock State Park, celebrated for its sandstone canyons and waterfalls; Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge for its massive population (250,000) of waterfowl and shorebirds; and Matthiessen State Park, for its collection of fascinating rock formations.
Campgrounds and RV parks in Chicago are few and far between. Much of modern-day downtown Chicago rose from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1871, so some of the streets may not be wide enough to accommodate a typical Chicago motorhome rental. For RV campers, parking outside of the city and taking the train into downtown may be the best way to get around.
A fantastic option is just over the state line. Indiana Dunes State Park on the south shore of Lake Michigan is, in fact, closer than most Illinois RV parks and much more equipped. Indiana Dunes Campground has an on-site water filling station and a dump station, and within ten miles, campers can find access to fuel, propane, and RV maintenance.
Loads of outdoor activities in the state park and nearby are more than enough to keep you entertained during your stay. If you want to get back to civilization, the South Shore Rail Line has a stop just outside the park, which makes the hour-long commute into downtown Chicago a breeze.
If you're coming from the north, a much closer alternative is the pet-friendly Chicago Northwest KOA campground in Union linked to Chicago by Metra Rail. The Woodstock and Crystal Lake stations are about 15 miles from the campground. Full hookups are available, and complimentary WiFi is offered.
A Chicago camping trip doesn't have to be all about steely skyscrapers, thumping nightlife (with a nod to its speakeasy past), a fusion of culinary delights, posh shopping districts, electric summer festivals, and a happening art scene. A visit to this massive city can also include public parks and green spaces. Within the city alone, more than 580 parks occupy over 7,000 acres of land. When you book an RV in Chicago, you’ll find something to enjoy, no matter what you’re after.
On the southwest bank of Lake Michigan, Chicago's lakefront is lined with 26 miles of sandy shoreline, public beaches, and 18.5 miles of Lakefront Trail, where locals go to bike, jog, walk, and skate. While Chicago has an excellent rail, bus, tram, and ferry network, it's also a pedestrian-friendly city, and nowhere is this more evident than on the Lakefront Trail, which offers convenient access to the Loop less than a mile inland. The Chicago Loop encompasses the 300-acre Grant Park (the venue of summertime Lollapalooza), the Art Institute of Chicago, several museums, theaters, operas, cultural centers, and commercial districts.
For shopping, you might want to head to the Magnificent Mile about a mile and a half north of the Loop. The Mag Mile is also the heart of the city's dining scene and nightlife. And if you want a sweeping view of the city, nothing beats the 360 Chicago observation deck at the top of the John Hancock Center.
For fans of the Chicago Cubs, Bulls, and Blackhawks, the Mag Mile is a must-stop to pick up a hat, jersey, or other sports memorabilia. Wrigley Field and the United Center, packed to the rafters during the season, are just five miles away. Fans of beer, brats, beaches, and bikes (the motor kind), should load up the campervan for a day trip to culture-rich Milwaukee. Sample suds at a beer garden, stop by Bradford Beach for waterfront fun on Lake Michigan, or browse the extensive collection of iron horses on display at the Harley-Davidson Museum.
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