Day trips from Chicago: Kalamazoo, Kenosha, Gary and Rockford

Nope, there wasn't a court case involved. We went to these gritty cities because we wanted to.

Photograph: Stephen Mahler

Gary, Indiana

When I checked the “special events” calendar on Gary’s municipal website, the next entry was for an “emergency medication dispensing preparedness exercise.” The Gary/Chicago International Airport offers no commercial air service. The historic Gary Bathing Beach Bathhouse overlooking Lake Michigan in Marquette Park (598 N Grand Blvd, 219-886-7099) was renamed the Gary Aquatorium because you can’t bathe there. On the bright side, you can win a gravy boat with a spin of the lucky wheel at nearby Majestic Star Casino (1 Buffington Harbor Dr, 888-218-7867), and Gary’s no longer America’s murder capital. Better yet, the Gary SouthShore RailCats (1 Stadium Plaza, 219-882-2255) play minor-league baseball at handsome U.S. Steel Yard about 30 miles from the Loop via I-90. Sure, sulfurous breezes blow across the field, but seats on the dugout cost only $10, parking’s free, big hamburgers run $6.50 and the RailCats sport two costumed mascots, only one of which is uncomfortably free with the pelvic thrusts. —Frank Sennett

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