It’s no wonder heading to LaSalle County’s Starved Rock State Park is a right of passage for Chicagoans. Often referenced as one of the most beautiful day trips in Illinois, the 13 miles of trails wind through sandstone canyons, rock formations, rushing waterfalls and 125-foot buttes overlooking the Illinois River. Visitors can hike alone or with guides, kayak, raft or simply picnic and camp in this geologically unique setting.
Picnicking in Chicago’s many beautiful parks or biking the over 20-mile Lake Michigan shoreline are some of the best ways to spend time outdoors in the city. But when you’re craving a day trip with a laid-back atmosphere, heart-pumping hiking trails and the sound of birds rustling leaves, these destinations within a few hours’ drive from Chicago will get you out of traffic and into nature. We've explored the Midwest to find the best state parks near Chicago, where you go camping under the stars or check the 3 Dune Challenge off your bucket list, so keep reading for our recommendations on thrilling outdoor adventures.
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