If you’re a hiker…
Blackwell Forest Preserve, Butterfield Rd and Route 59, Warrenville (630-933-7200)
Pitch your tent and then hit the trails because this western ’burb forest preserve offers more than eight miles of crushed limestone trails designed for hiking, cycling, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. All 60 camp sites in the preserve are equipped with fire pits and picnic tables; most have electrical hookups for RVs and campers. Once you’ve explored the trails, visit the nearby Silver Lake, where you can go canoeing and boating (no gas-powered boats are allowed).
Miles from Chicago About 32
Price $15–$30, depending on if you’re a DuPage resident and opt for a site with electricity.
If you’re a beach bum…
Illinois Beach State Park, Wadsworth Rd, Zion (847-662-4811)
Who needs a shower when you have Lake Michigan at the foot of your tent? In addition to 244 campsites (which actually include showers), this park also offers two sandy beaches where campers can lay out and swim. The park also includes a nature center and trails. Unlike many campsites, alcohol is permitted in some areas of the park, so feel free to stop at the liquor store as you head north of the city to Zion.
Miles from Chicago About 50
If you like roughing it…
Channahon State Park, 25302 W Story St, Channahon (815-467-4271)
It’s all about getting back to nature at this state park. There’s no vehicular access, which means all of your gear must be walked to one of the 20 campgrounds. Each camping area features fire rings, picnic tables and grills; a drinking fountain and pit toilets are located near each area. During the day, you can hike along 61 miles of scenic trails offering views of wildlife and wildflowers.
Miles from Chicago About 50
Price $6 per tent per night
If you’re a hunter…
Kankakee River State Park, 5314 West Route 102, Bourbonnais (815-933-1383)
This state park, located about an hour south of the city, offers fishing, canoeing, horseback riding, hunting (only bow hunting is allowed for deer; hunters can use their firearms for ducks, squirrels, coyotes and raccoons) and, of course, camping. The park’s Potawatomi campground, a Class A area (meaning it includes water, electricity and showers), has more than 110 sites (fees start around $25 per night, and include access to showers and toilets) and two six-person rental cabins.
Miles from Chicago About 65
Price $50 for a cabin per night
If you’re really looking to get away…
Glacial Park, 6316 Harts Rd, Ringwood (815-338-6223)
It’s a bit of an adventure to access the campground at this park: It’s only available via canoeing on the Nippersink Creek. The campsite accommodates just 25 campers, so if it’s peace and quiet you seek, you’ll find it here. The park also features about seven miles of hiking trails, with many opportunities for bird watching.
Miles from Chicago About 60
Price $55, includes firewood