21 Love It
Save it

The 13 best day trips from Chicago

These day trips from Chicago are affordable, fun and diverse, with options like the beach, breweries, farms and more

Photograph: Courtesy Visit Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva, WI

Caught with a bad case of summer wanderlust and a short supply of vacation time? Luckily, Chicago is the perfect launching spot for a host of one-day escapes, from nautical adventures in Wisconsin and beaches in Indiana to sipping craft beer and spirits in Michigan and dining farmstead-style in central Illinois. Add one—or more—of these adventures to your list of things to do in the summer.

For a grand tour of Chicago, click here

RECOMMENDED: Weekend getaways from Chicago

The best day trips from Chicago

Oglesby, IL

Oglesby, IL

Good for outdoor enthusiasts

1 hr 30 mins by car

It may not be the mighty Colorado, but Oglesby’s Vermillion River offers the best rafting you’re liable to find within a quick jaunt from Chicago. A 9.5-mile run with Vermillion River Rafting (779 N 2249th Rd; 815-667-5242; vermillionriverrafting.com; 3–4 hours; $30, cash or check only; reservations recommended) will shoot you over 14 rapids, most of them class I and II. After you’ve handed over your paddle, hop in the car and head up the road to Starved Rock Lodge (2668 E 873 Rd; 815-667-4211; starvedrocklodge.com), where you can catch your breath and lunch on casual fare like burgers ($8.50) or beer battered walleye ($9.95) at the Back Door Lounge. When you feel sufficiently refreshed, hit the hiking trails at adjacent Starved Rock State Park (starvedrockstatepark.org) to spot dramatic waterfalls and explore cool glacial canyons.

Before hightailing it home, make a pitstop in nearby Ottawa, where Tangled Roots Brewing (812 LaSalle St; 815-324-9549; tangledrootsbrewingco.com) has recently launched the Lone Buffalo (thelonebuffalo.com), an on-site dining room dishing out hale and hearty gastropub fare like a trio of hop-infused oils with crusty bread ($9), pork belly reubens ($10), and braised cauliflower with romesco sauce and harissa compote ($15).

Madison, WI

Good for lovers of adventure and beer

3 hrs by car


You probably know Madison as a college town and the home of lots and lots of beer and cheese. That's true, but this vibrant Midwestern city is also much more, with a wealth of lakefront dining and outdoor recreation opportunities out the wazoo. When you arrive, you might first be struck by the number of bicycles—bike shops dot most neighborhood corners and dozens of BCycle (madison.bcycle.com) stations offer easy access if you’re in town without your own two wheels ($3 for 30 minutes or $6 a day). Madison is so bike-friendly that hotels like the lakefront Hilton Madison Monona Terrace (9 E Wilson St; 608-255-5100) have bike elevators and many businesses across town offer special discounts for cyclists (bb2.bicyclebenefits.org).

But it’s not all go, go, go. If you want to spend the day in the grass, in a kayak or on a restaurant patio, you can. Make it more relaxing with a beer, like local favorite farmhouse ale New Glarus Spotted Cow, while dining at downtown Madison’s only rooftop restaurant, Fresco (227 State St; 608-663-7374, frescomadison.com) or sitting outside at Wisconsin Brewing Co. Tap Haus (107 State St; 608-310-1010, wisconsinbrewingtaphaus.com), and people-watching. Whatever you do, make time for a stop at the Old Fashioned (23 N Pinckney St; 608-310-4545, theoldfashioned.com) for cheese curds and, well, any of the variations on an old-fashioned, of course. 

On your way out of town, don’t miss hip Near Eastside neighborhoods like Atwood and Marquette. Vegetarians will want to grab brunch outside at Green Owl Café (1970 Atwood Ave; 608-285-5290, greenowlcafe.com), and everyone can appreciate hand-crafted chocolates from Gail Ambrosius (2086 Atwood Ave; 608-249-3500, gailambrosius.com). Driving? It’s worth venturing to nearby attractions like New Glarus Brewing Company (2400 WI-69, New Glarus, WI; 608-527-5850, newglarusbrewing.com) and House on the Rock (5754 State Road 23, Spring Green, WI; 608-935-3639, thehouseontherock.com). The latter is a Frank Lloyd Wright–inspired funhouse, complete with optical illusions and a massive indoor carousel. Much like everything in and around Madison, it’s full of pleasant surprises. 

—Laura Rote

Read more
Racine, WI

Racine, WI

Good for culture lovers

1 hr 20 mins by car

For Chicagoans, the sight of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style houses is something of a commonplace; not so familiar is the architect’s industrial side. Get a taste on a tour of SC Johnson’s Wright-designed campus in Racine (1525 Howe Street; 262-260-2154; scjohnson.com; 1 hour 30 mins; free; Thurs–Sun, 10 & 2). Admire the Great Workroom, with its forest of Seuss-like platform columns, and the cantilevered Research Tower, a rare example of a Wright-made high rise; afterward, keep on theme with a tour of Wingspread (33 East Four Mile Road; 262-681-3353; 1 h; free; schedule varies; see reservations.scjohnson.com for availability), the late 30s-era home the architect designed for then-SC Johnson president Herbert Fisk Johnson Jr.

For fresh air and Lake Michigan views, take a leisurely turn around nearby Wind Point Lighthouse park (4725 Lighthouse Dr; 262-639-3777; windpointlighthouse.org)—or if you’re feeling ambitious, climb the park’s namesake edifice ($10; monthly climbs offered June through October; see website for dates and availability); at 136 years old and 108 feet tall, it’s one of the lake’s oldest and tallest still-functioning lighthouses.

Don’t skip town without sampling Racine’s famed kringle, a traditional Danish pastry comprising a ring of flaky dough wrapped around fillings like cinnamon-scented pecan streusel. While the treat’s practically ubiquitous at area bakeries, it’s hard to top the tender, buttery versions at O&H (multiple locations; 800-709-4009; ohdanishbakery.com) and Bendtsen’s (3200 Washington Ave; 262-633-0365; bendtsensbakery.com)

Advertising
Monroe, WI

Monroe, WI

Good for adventurous epicures

2 hrs 15 mins by car 

If your cheese preferences run to the pungent, you’ll find yourself in good company in charming Monroe, Wisconsin, gateway to a region populous with cheesemakers specializing in varieties like Swiss and nostril-tingling Limburger. For some context, begin your day at the National Historic Cheesemaking Center (2108 6th Ave; 608-325-4636; nationalhistoriccheesemakingcenter.org; $5), where you’ll get a crash course in south central Wisconsin’s cheesy history (largely the legacy of Swiss immigrants who settled here in the 19th century). Next, continue up the road to the Swiss chalet-style complex that houses Emmi Roth (2108 6th Ave; 608-325-4636; emmi.com), whose nutty Grand Cru Surchoix took home top honors at the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest. Watch the cheese gurus at work from the creamery’s viewing hall, and stock up on Wisconsin cheese and sausages at Alp and Dell (alpanddellcheese.com), the on-site store.

When you’re ready for lunch, make your way to the unapologetically old-school Baumgartner’s Tavern on Monroe’s pleasant courthouse square. Sure, you could have a smoked brat ($5) or a sandwich of mild brick cheese ($3.25)—but for the full Monroe experience, tuck into Baumgartner’s infamous specialty: a slab of Limburger on rye, crowned with raw red onion shavings just in case the star ingredient isn’t piquant enough for you ($4). If you need a chaser, stroll around the block to Minhas brewery (1208 14th Ave; 800-233-7205; minhasbrewery.com), one of the nation’s oldest. Cheerful daily tours (see website for availability; $12) include copious sampling as well as four take-home beers and a souvenir glass.  

South Bend, IN

South Bend, IN

Good for culture lovers

1 hr 30 mins by car or 2 hrs 20 mins by train

There’s more to South Bend than Fighting Irish football. Check out the city’s cultured side with an afternoon visit to the History Museum (808 W Washington St, 574-235-9664, historymuseumsb.org; $8), a stately Victorian mansion that was once home to the family of local industrialist and inventor James Oliver. Original furnishings as well as permanent displays exploring topics like the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League provide a glimpse into American culture during the Oliver family’s day, while an eclectic mix of temporary exhibitions offers something for everyone from mustache enthusiasts (Fantastic Facial Hair, running through July 26) to Jazz Age fashion buffs (Dressing Downton, October 15 through January 8).

From the museum, head just a few blocks east for an early dinner at Café Navarre (101 N Michigan St; 574-968-8101; cafenavarre.co), an upscale dining spot—think dishes like salmon in brown butter pumpernickel crust ($30) and guajillo honey-glazed Berkshire pork chops with escalivada and polenta ($30)—housed in a repurposed 20s-era bank. In August, mark the quatercentenary of the Bard’s passing at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (100 Performing Arts Center; 574-631-2800; shakespeare.nd.edu), where, under the direction of Cirque du Soleil’s West Hyler, the annual Shakespeare Festival’s visiting professional company is staging an aerial gymnastics-enriched production of The Tempest (from $20)

Holland, MI

Holland, MI

Good for culture lovers and adventurous epicures

2 hrs 15 mins by car or 3 hrs by train

Once a stronghold of Calvinist separatists who arrived here from the Netherlands in the mid-19th century, the town of Holland continues to celebrate its Dutch heritage. To go Dutch for the day, start off with a breakfast of flaky, almond paste-filled bankets ($1.75) and house-roasted coffee at deBoer Bakkerij (360 Douglas Ave, 616-396-2253, deboerbakery.com). Afterward, head across town to Veldheer Tulip Gardens (12755 Quincy St, 616-399-1900, veldheer.com; garden admission $10), where 5 million of the eponymous flowers explode into bloom each spring. Even if the tulips’ fleeting season has passed, you can while away a pleasant spell here watching artisans turn out traditional Dutch crafts like Delft pottery and hand-carved wooden clogs at the on-site De Klomp Wooden Shoe Factory (free).

When hunger strikes, make your way downtown for lunch and a beer at New Holland (66 E 8th St, newhollandbrew.com), one of the Midwest’s best-loved brewpubs. (Not sure what to sip on? Look for limited-release variations on brewery fave Dragon’s Milk, a bourbon barrel-aged stout, featuring quirky ingredients like maple coffee and peanut butter.) Make a dent in the calorie count with a leisurely stroll around Windmill Island Gardens (1 Lincoln Ave, 616-355-1030, cityofholland.com/windmillislandgardens, $9), a picturesque park centered around a 250-year-old Dutch windmill purchased by Holland residents in the 1960s.  

Advertising
Lake Geneva, WI

Lake Geneva, WI

Good for sun seekers and outdoor enthusiasts

1 hr 30 mins by car

With a surface area of just more than eight square miles and a placid temper, Geneva isn’t exactly a great lake—and when it comes to getting nautical, that can be a good thing. Downtown Lake Geneva abounds with watercraft options to suit all interests. Commune with nature on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from Clear Water Outdoor (744 W Main St, 262-348-2420, clearwateroutdoor.com, 2 hrs rental $40), or make some wake with a speedboat or waverunner from Marina Bay Boat Rentals’ fleet (300 Wrigley Dr, 262-248-4477, lakegenevaboats.com, 2 hrs boat rental from $205; 1 hr waverunner rental $125).

Prefer to let a pro captain your ship? Check out the eclectic mix of tours on offer from Lake Geneva Cruise Line (812 Wrigley Dr, 262-248-6206, cruiselakegeneva.com); on our favorite, you’ll climb aboard a 100-year-old U.S. Mailboat and watch agile “jumpers” hop from deck to dock with lakeside residents’ post in hand (2 hr 30 min tour $35). Back on dry land, settle in on the lakeside patio at Oakfire (831 Wrigley Dr; 262-248-1111; oakfirelakegeneva.com) for beautifully blistered Neapolitan pies accompanied by sundowners of Spotted Cow ($5) from only-in-Wisconsin New Glarus Brewing.

Fennville, MI

Fennville, MI

Good for adventurous epicures

2 hrs by car

Many Chicagoans wait until fall, when apple season has reached its hectic apex, to venture up to western Michigan’s fruit belt. But there’s a compelling argument to be made for hitting the area a couple of months earlier, when the countryside is tranquil and stone fruits like peaches and cherries are ripe for picking. The petite town of Fennville (population 1,398) is a great base for tasting the region’s sweet bounty in a host of iterations. Start off with a slice or two of the good stuff at local favorite Crane’s Pie Pantry (6054 124th Ave, 269-561-2297, cranespiepantry.com), a bakery-restaurant housed in an antiques-strewn converted barn.

From here, a five-minute drive will deliver you to the timbered cider houses that anchor idyllic Virtue Farms (2170 62nd St, 269-561-5001, virtuecider.com), founded by former Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall. Learn about the finer points of cider making on a tour (Mon & Thurs by appointment, Fri 3, Sat/Sun 11:30 & 6:30; $15), or make a beeline for the bottle shop to sample Virtue’s range of European-style farmhouse ciders, like the best-selling, bourbon barrel–aged Mitten and the single-grower Orchard Series. Finally, make your way to Salt of the Earth (114 E Main St, 269-561-7258, saltoftheearthfennville.com) for wood-fired breads and seasonal dishes centered around ingredients sourced within a 50-mile radius; expect rustic but elegant fare like pressed chicken and fingerling potatoes dressed in brown butter, caramelized lemon, and smoked caper ($24), as well as a beverage program heavy on Michigan-made wine and beer. 

Amish Country, IN

Amish Country, IN

Good for culture lovers

1 hr 50 mins by car

 
Northern Indiana’s Amish settlers first trekked to the area from Pennsylvania in the mid-19th century. Today, it’s home to an Amish population of 20,000, making it the group’s third-largest U.S. enclave. Insulated for spiritual reasons from the trappings of modernity (e.g., electricity and cars), the region offers a living taste of the past. Experience it for yourself on the Heritage Trail, a 90-mile, self-guided driving tour that loops you around the area’s quaint towns and scenic, rolling back roads. Download an MP3 version of the itinerary (amishcountry.org), or grab a hard copy at the visitor’s center (219 Caravan Dr; 800-262-8161) in Elkhart, Amish Country’s gateway city. 

As you amble through the backcountry, pull over to browse handmade furniture and toys, baked goods, and beeswax candles at shingle shops, so called for the exterior signs proclaiming their trade. And between May 30 and October 1, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the vibrant Heritage Trail Quilt Gardens (quiltgardens.com), 19 enormous flower beds painstakingly planted to echo traditional quilt patterns. For a scenic stretch of the legs, hop out at Bonneyville Mill, a still-operational, 1830s-era flour mill surrounded by 7 miles of hiking trails (53373 County Rd 131, Bristol; 574-535-6458; elkhartcountyparks.org). Round out your day with a traditional dinner (think hearty, simple fare like meatloaf and freshly made pie) at the farm of Merlin and Mary Lou Mullet (reservations required; 72280 CR 100, Nappannee; 574-773-2140; facebook.com/mulletsdining).  

  
 

Advertising
Fairbury, IL

Fairbury, IL

Good for adventurous epicures

1 hr 50 mins by car


Observant Chicago foodies may have noticed a couple of names popping up over and over again in the menu sourcing notes that have become de rigueur in these locavore-obsessed times: Kilgus Farmstead (for dairy) and Slagel Family Farms (for a range of meats). Turns out, our favorite chefs’ favorite suppliers sit just a three-mile hop from each other in the central Illinois town of Fairbury. On an hour-long tour ($4; schedule varies, see kilgusfarmstead.com for availability) of Kilgus (21471 E 670 North Rd, 815-692-6080), you’ll get acquainted with the farm’s herd of sweet, doe-eyed Jersey cows, learn the ins and outs of milking, and sample freshly spun soft-serve. Bring a cooler and hit the on-site store for Kilgus dairy and meat as well as goods like eggs and honey from nearby producers. Slagel has teamed up with Chicago chefs like Cosmo Gosse and Paul Virant to put on a program of farm dinners ($75–125, including optional bus transportation from Chicago or Geneva; see website for schedule) that runs through the fall. After an interactive tour and a butchering demo, you’ll retire to a picturesque barn for the main event, a family-style, BYOB meal prepared by the guest chef.   

Harbor Country, MI

Harbor Country, MI

Good for adventurous epicures

1 hr 30 mins by car

The eight-town chain that makes up southwest Michigan’s Harbor Country seems bent on boosting its wine scene, but for a more memorable taste of the area, we say skip the vineyards and focus on suds and spirits. Start off with lunch on the patio at Sawyer’s Greenbush Brewing (5885 Sawyer Rd, 269-405-1076, greenbushbrewing.com), where you can tuck into barbecue sampler plates ($16) and moreish snacks like buttermilk hushpuppies with chive honey butter ($5), and keep cool with taproom-only brews like Cabra Perdida, an imperial cream stout infused with blueberries. (If beery breakfasts are more your speed, take note: The Greenbush crew is in the midst of transforming an adjacent vacant building into a brunch-forward diner, slated to launch in early summer.) 

For a bit of retail therapy while you digest, shoot south along the Red Arrow Highway, a shady, rambling route dense with antique shops. If your style runs more modern, be sure to browse the design-y housewares and accessories at Sojourn (12908 Red Arrow Hwy, 312-543-4240, sojournastore.com). Down in Three Oaks, take your time wandering 6,000 square feet of vintage furnishings, salvaged barn wood, retro wall hangings, and much more at the monthly Blue Moon Vintage Market (16860 Three Oaks Road, 219-851-0900, facebook.com/bluemoonvintagemarket). Cap off your day at Journeyman (109 Generations Dr, 269-820-2050, journeymandistillery.com), an organic distillery housed in an erstwhile corset boning factory. Learn about the building’s unusual history while sampling the whiskey-dominated roster of spirits on a tour ($10; see website for schedule). Afterward, stick around for dinner at Staymaker, Journeyman’s recently launched restaurant, where the house spirits pop up in dishes like pizza topped with gin-soaked blue cheese olives ($12), and the Adult Float ($9), a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream suspended in whiskey-spiked nitro coffee. 

Chicago's North Shore

Chicago's North Shore

Good for outdoor enthusiasts and culture lovers

35 mins by train, plus 19-mile bike ride

The year 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of John Hughes’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Pay homage to the most epic senior ditch day Chicagoland’s ever seen by touring Ferris’ hometown of Shermer—in fact a fictional community comprised of sites scattered around the North Shore. With your bike in tow, hop Metra’s Union Pacific North Line (see metrarail.com for stations, schedule, and fares) from the city; disembark at Winnetka (754 Elm St). Just west of the station, you’ll find the pleasant Elm Street commercial district, where class-A schlemiel Principal Rooney is seen trawling local youth hangouts for the truant Ferris.

From here, head north approximately 2.5 miles on the Green Bay Trail, a peacefully wooded cycling path that runs parallel to the Metra tracks. Leave the trail at Park Avenue and head east for half a mile. (Hughes buffs may recognize the church at 263 Park from Sixteen Candles; think Jake Ryan leaning against a Porsche in full dreamboat mode.) When you reach the Glencoe Beach overlook (160 Hazel Ave), stop and look around for a while; it’s here where Ferris and girlfriend Sloane bring pal Cameron to simmer down after an unscrupulous garage attendant takes his father’s cherished Ferrari joyriding. Head back to the Green Bay Trail and bike north for roughly three miles; at Beech Street, hook a right and continue to number 370. Just beyond the road, you’ll spot the lofted mid-century garage where the aforementioned Ferrari meets its spectacular end. (This is a private residence, so loitering is off limits.) Backtrack along the Green Bay Trail to Lake Cook Road, where you’ll catch the North Branch Trail south, cutting through the sprawling Chicago Botanic Garden. After 2.5 miles, bear right onto Dundee Road (Note: You’ll be riding the streets from here on out, so exercise caution) and then, a mile onward, left onto winding Shermer Road. Around the intersection of Shermer and Meadow in Northbrook, look for the water tower that bore the iconic slogan Save Ferris during filming. At 2300 Shermer Road is Glenbrook North High School, the exterior stand-in for Ferris and company’s Shermer High. On the south side of the property are the auditorium steps from which Principal Rooney releases Sloane to a comically-disguised Ferris.

By now, you’ve earned a sausage to make Abe Froman blush, so head a mile southwest to no-frills wiener slinger Dear Franks (2841 Pfingsten Rd, 847-498-1717, dearfranks.com) for a jumbo char dog combo ($8.29). Finally, make your way east along Willow Road to the Glen of North Glenview Metra station (3000 Old Willow Road). Board the Chicago-bound Milwaukee District North line, and imagine the swell of some Hughesian closing credit track as you roll homeward.

Advertising
Michigan City, IN

Michigan City, IN

Good for sun seekers and outdoor enthusiasts

1 hr 10 mins by car or 1 hr 50 mins by train

Soft, sandy beaches, bird-watching ops, 50 miles of hiking trails—no matter how you prefer to take your outdoor adventure, there’s something for you within the swathe of shoreline that comprises the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (Visitor Center, 1215 N Indiana 49, nps.gov/indu, admission free except for West Beach, $6 per car).

Once you’ve been swimming, sunning or scrambling over vertiginous dunes to your heart’s content, head into Michigan City to score bargains on Le Creuset cookware, Pendleton throws and kicks from Puma and Nike at Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets (601 Wabash St, 219-879-6506, premiumoutlets.com).

Finish the day at Carlson’s (118 W Coolspring Ave, 219-872-0331, carlsonsdrive-in.com), a 69-year-old drive-in that serves up chili cheese dogs ($3.30) and frosted mugs of root beer ($1.90) alongside some serious summer nostalgia.  

More easy day trips from Chicago

Geneva & St. Charles, IL

Geneva & St. Charles, IL

Good for culture lovers and adventurous epicures
 
50 mins by car or 1 hr 10 mins by train
 

With its Fox River-adjacent location and pleasant downtown shopping district, pretty Geneva offers relaxing, small-town vacation vibes within an hour’s drive. Begin by exploring the riverside estate of early 20th-century textile tycoon George Fabyan (1511 S Batavia Ave, 630-232-8678, ppfv.org); highlights include the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Villa ($3 suggested donation), now home to a small museum recounting the Fabyan family’s history, and a peaceful Japanese garden ($1 suggested donation). Next, head to the grand Herrington Inn (15 S River Ln, 530-208-7433, herringtoninn.com), where you can continue your decompression with a spa treatment (appointment suggested) followed by lunch with a side of waterfront views at the inn’s house restaurant, Atwater’s. Complete your escape at Penrose Brewing Company (509 Stevens St, 630-232-2115, penrosebrewing.com); take a 45-minute facility tour ($10, includes one beer and souvenir pint glass; reserve online), or just pull up a stool in the sleek, stylish taproom and work your way through the day’s selection of Belgian-style ales and wild sours.

Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee, WI

Good for culture lovers and adventurous epicures

1 hr 30 mins by car or 1 hr 30 mins by train

The way we see it, a successful visit to the Cream City should marry heaps of local cool with a dash of old-school Wisconsin kitsch. Sobelman’s Pub & Grill (1900 W St Paul Ave, 414-931-1919, milwaukeesbestburgers.com), housed in a former Schlitz tavern, gets it; the burgers (from $7.50) are great, but the comically overdressed Bloody Marys—let’s just say skewered sliders are considered a light garnish here—may be all you need for lunch. Counter your indulgence with a virtuous dose of culture at the Milwaukee Art Museum (700 N Art Museum Dr, 414-224-3200, mam.org, $5 suggested donation). Since the completion of Santiago Calatrava’s Quadracci Pavilion in 2001, the complex has become a Milwaukee icon—and the collections (featuring works by the likes of Mark Rothko, Diane Arbus and Joan Miró) aren’t too shabby either. For a DIY, progressive dinner, taste your way through lobster rolls, handmade sausages and butter toffee brownies at the Milwaukee Public Market (400 N Water St, 414-336-1111, milwaukeepublicmarket.org), an assemblage of 20 vendors spread throughout a soaring, glassy complex in the Historic Third Ward. Before you leave town, venture south to the Mitchell Street neighborhood for a pit stop at Bryant’s (1579 S 9th St, 414-383-2620, bryantscocktaillounge.com). Behind an unassuming exterior you’ll find a lounge that oozes ‘70s swank (think mirror tiles and aquariums), staffed with bartenders game for whipping up cocktails based on guest prompts that can vary from the sensible (your favorite spirit) to the silly (your favorite Patrick Swayze role).          

Munster, IN

Munster, IN

Good for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurous epicures

2 hrs 30 mins by bike or 40 mins by car

By car, the journey out to 3 Floyds’ Munster brewpub (9750 Indiana Pkwy, 219-922-4425, 3floyds.comhardly qualifies as a trip. By bike, though, it’s something of an odyssey that spins you down lengthy stretches of lakefront path and across industrial East Side landscapes. Clocking in at roughly 30 miles each way, the ride’s likely to awaken your appetite; if you need a snack en route to Munster (keep in mind that visits to 3 Floyds often involve fairly lengthy waits), you could do much worse than smoked trout ($8.55/lb) and shrimp ($22.99/lb) at James Beard-anointed Calumet Fisheries (3259 E 95th St, 773-933-9855, calumetfisheries.com). Once you’ve made it to the perpetually packed brewpub (and endured that wait), you’ll be rewarded with savory treats like housemade chicharrónes with white cheddar powder ($6) and tempura fried chicken sandwiches ($10)—and oh yeah, beer.

Advertising
New Glarus, WI

New Glarus, WI

Good for adventurous epicures and culture lovers

2 hrs 30 mins by car

A Wisconsin-only distribution network (not to mention some pretty tasty beers) has conferred cult status on New Glarus Brewing (2400 State Hwy 69, 608-527-5850, newglarusbrewing.com), in turn putting its namesake town on the map. By all means, come to New Glarus to taste the excellent indigenous brew (self-guided tours free, 3 tasting room samples with souvenir glass $8)—but stay for the local atmosphere, a charming mix of Old World ways retained since the town was founded by mid-19th century Swiss settlers. Abandon all notions of eating light at Glarner Stube (518 First St, 608-527-2216, facebook.com/glarnerstube), where the menu runs to Swiss comfort fare like cheese fondue, fried potato rösti and Wiener schnitzel. After your meal, retire to the dimly lit barroom at Puempel’s Tavern (18 6th Ave, 608-527-2045, puempels.com), established in 1893, to sip one last Spotted Cow while you try your hand at throwing dollar bills at the ceiling.

Comments

3 comments
M Davis C
M Davis C

Lake Geneva, WI is beautiful, especially in the Summer. I Love living there and I'm happy to see it included in this article.

Monica B
Monica B

I've been to most of these beautiful places! You article got me inspired to go to Oglesby, IL.