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On the shores of Lake Michigan, the Illinois Beach Campground conveniently lies partway between Chicago and Milwaukee. It’s on the doorstep of picturesque beaches and the Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, as well as the prairie and woodlands of the Lyons Woods Forest Preserve.
RV camping at Illinois Beach Campground includes access to a range of basic campsites, with 30/50 amp connections available. There are toilets and showers on-site, as well as a children’s playground and access to a range of recreational trails. Pets are welcome to stay with you at the RV campground (dogs must be on a leash), and it’s accessible to big rigs.
Zion campers can take advantage of the outdoor pursuits in the Illinois Beach State Park, which connects with the Chiwaukee Prairie to the north to form the Chiwaukee Illinois Beach Lake Plain. This landscape has been recognized as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance and is a hub for not only birdwatching but also hiking, bicycling, boating, and swimming. Follow one of the trails that wind through the prairie, dunes, and black oak savanna, with colorful wildflowers making it a particularly scenic area during the spring months.
At the southern end of Illinois Beach State Park is the Illinois Beach Nature Preserve, which provides a refuge for coyotes, deer, turtles, and frogs, as well as a huge diversity of butterflies and birds. It was designated as Illinois’ first nature preserve and is now a National Natural Landmark, with various trails for exploring its sedge meadows, marshes, and beaches.
Directly west of Illinois Beach Nature Preserve is the Lyons Woods Forest Preserve, which protects a diversity of terrain ranging from pine grove to prairie and oak woodlands. Climb to the observation deck to spot the resident birdlife and wildlife or explore along the 2.5 miles of gravel trails that wind through the preserve. Yellowthroat warblers, blue-winged warblers, and ovenbirds are among the species spotted here while five of Illinois’ endangered plant species have also found refuge. If you’re traveling with a dog, they’re permitted in the preserve on a leash, or you can head to the nearby Larsen Nature Preserve and Dog Park for an off-leash run-around.
On the northern edge of Illinois Beach State Park is the North Dunes Nature Preserve, which encompasses wetland, prairie, and savanna ecosystems along a stretch of sand. It supports a variety of rare plant species, including common bugseed, trailing juniper, and bog arrow grass, as well as offering regular sightings of Henslow’s sparrow, Virginia rail, and American bittern. The preserve is also renowned for its hawk and migratory bird sightings during the spring and fall when they visit the shores of Lake Michigan on their annual migration.
When you camp at the Illinois Beach Campground, you can fill up your RV rental at one of the gas stations in Zion, which sprawls on the western edge of the park. There are numerous supermarkets where you can stock up on grocery supplies, as well as a good selection of fast-food restaurants and eateries if you want to dine out.
Camping at Illinois Beach Campground is a good base for visiting Six Flags Great America, which originally opened in 1976 and now features nine themed areas. Get your thrills on its 17 roller coasters and ride the world’s second tallest carousel, then cool off on the water-themed attractions and pools of Hurricane Harbor. Enjoy the classic amusement park rides in the Midwestern town-themed Hometown Square or experience the child-friendly Kidzopolis area, with entertainment shows and plenty of eateries where you can refuel throughout the day.
The Illinois Beach Campground can also be used as a base for visiting Chicago, which lies around an hour’s drive south. It’s famed for its outstanding museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago (with its notable collection of Impressionist paintings), the Museum of Science and Industry, and the immense natural history collection of the Field Museum. Soak up the city skyline during a stroll on the Chicago Riverwalk and gaze up at the Neo-Gothic Tribune Tower, with sweeping views on offer from the John Hancock Center. If you’re traveling with kids, don’t miss a visit to the Shedd Aquarium to see its giant Pacific octopus or the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is one of the few remaining free zoos in the country.
Whether you want to discover the sights of Chicago or enjoy the beachfront pursuits along Lake Michigan, book an RV in Lake County and start planning your next vacation.