Road Trips from Chicago for Families

Looking to go on a day trip or take a road trip with your family? We have insider tips and ideas for you! Simply click on the titles to be taken to articles full of useful info and reviews.

Kid-Friendly Destinations in Appleton, Wisconsin
Find out about Building for Kids Children’s Museum, History Museum at the Castle, Butterfly Garden of Wisconsin, where to eat, where to stay, and other places the whole family will enjoy.

A Day Trip or Weekend in Champaign Urbana
Places to go, things to see, where to eat, and where to stay in and around Champaign-Urbana.

Road Trip: Sheboygan, Wisconsin, An Outdoor Lover’s Dream
Get the inside scoop on the Breaker Bay Water Park, waterfront, children’s museum, Bookworm Gardens, where to eat, Blue Harbor Resort, and more.

The Best Things to Do with Kids in Branson, Missouri
Branson offers families a connection to the outdoors with boating, biking, golfing, hiking, fishing, cave exploring, and swimming. Read Kristen’s review for all the details.

Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort
Overview of the grounds, waterpark, attractions, and activities.

5 Tips for Hiking Starved Rock with Kids
Going to Starved Rock with kids? We have expert tips to make your trip smooth and enjoyable! What to bring, when to get there, where to go, and more.

A Day Trip to the Bristol Renaissance Faire
A day trip to the Bristol Renaissance Faire is a great way to make memories with your kids (and take a trip through history!)

A Visit to Phillips Park Zoo in Aurora
At the center of Phillips Park in Aurora, the Phillips Park Zoo has great animal exhibits, a free splash-pad and a large playground.

Day Trip to Glencoe Beach
Glencoe Beach, on the beautiful north shore of Lake Michigan, is a family-friendly beach. Here are some tips on making the day fun for all.

Day Trip: Albanese Candy Factory Tour + Taltree Arboretum in Valpo IN
Nature, trains and candy?! Sounds like a great day to me (and my kids). Here are some tips and suggestions for this fun day trip!

How To Get To Maggie Daley Park (from the suburbs) + Review
Maggie Daley Park is fun for all ages and getting there can be an adventure too! Check out many ideas for how to get there along with a review of the park.

True Toddler Life: I Took a Toddler to the Art Institute of Chicago
Get tips on how to successfully take your toddler to The Art Institute and find out where to go once you get there.

Day Trip: Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan
Beautiful tulips, entertainment, arts and crafts, and more at Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan. Get the family-friendly festival details here.

Fruit Picking at Springhope Farm
Looking for a farm that does u-pick peaches? Springhope Farm is a family-owned farm with a family-friendly environment.

Michigan Weekend Getaways

Michigan offers tons of small-town charm right on the lake. Our readers recommend visiting:

  • St. Joseph, home to a picturesque downtown and sandy Silver Beach, where you’ll also find $1 rides on a giant carousel and a splash pad.
  • Saugatuck, with its riverfront downtown, paddle board rentals, and boat rides.
  • Holland, home of the small Nelis’ Dutch Village amusement park and Holland State Park’s sandy beach.
  • Grand Haven, which has a huge boardwalk and hosts a nightly musical fountain show with lights.
  • New Buffalo, where you’ll find tons of water activities, as well as wineries and a beach with dunes.
  • South Haven, a beachfront town with a bustling downtown and nearby wineries.
  • Double JJ Resort and Gold Rush Indoor Waterpark, a Wild West-themed resort in Rothbury, MI.
  • White Birch Lodge, an all-inclusive waterfront resort in Elk Rapids, MI.

Wisconsin Weekend Getaways

Wisconsin offers a big variety of family fun, from tried-and-true tourist favorites to off-the-beaten-path cabins in the woods. Our readers recommended:

Other Weekend Getaways

While Wisconsin and Michigan are definitely favorite vacation destinations for Chicagoland families, they aren’t the only good spots for family fun!

  • Just because you can visit Chicago for an afternoon doesn’t mean it’s not a great weekend destination, too. Stay in a colorful neighborhood like Lakeview, explore the Loop, or criss-cross the whole city via CTA.
  • Springfield, IL, our state capital, brims with hometown pride for Abraham Lincoln. There are tons of historical sites, museums, and more—as well as dining and entertainment options in the city.
  • Michigan City, IN is a lakefront town with a gorgeous beach, historic lighthouse, and outlet mall.

Tips for Traveling with Kids

Are you ready to get out of town? We have complied a list of ideas to keep your sanity intact while traveling with kids and ways to keep them occupied!

Ways to Keep Your Kids Occupied During Travel

Devices: iPad, iPod, Kindle, travel DVD player. Remember to have them charged (and don’t forget to bring the chargers, too)! If you’re looking for some new apps for your kids to enjoy, check out our Best Apps for Kids!

Many libraries offer books on CD and Take-Away devices. Here are some suggestions: The Chocolate Touch, A to Z Mysteries, Frog and Toad, Grasshopper on the Road, Frederick, and Beverly Cleary books. Have other suggestions? Comment below!

Kid friendly-Headphones to listen to music or an audiobook.

Cereal Necklaces: use plastic laces to string cereal, pretzels and other snacks. Pretty to wear and great for a snack! This is a good “busy” activity to utilize while Mom and Dad pack.

Pipe cleaners, marshmallows, Cheerios to craft. The photo below shows my sons immersed in this craft at home, but you can put the marshmallows and cereal in cups that fit in the car cupholders.

Great on the on the go, or as a rainy day activity!

Plastic ziplock bags: for dirty clothes, trash, loose pieces, sick bags

No-spill cups

Magnetic travel tray for a writing or coloring surface

Tips for Motion Sickness

Watching movies, reading books and concentrating on small games may increase motion sickness. Encourage your child to look outside (ideally straight ahead) and if possible, open the car window for ventilation. Try to avoid spicy and greasy foods before and during travel; bland crackers or carbonated drinks can ease an upset stomach. Seasickness bands with acupressure points for your wrist may help alleviate symptoms. Just in case, don’t forget a plastic ziplock bag in case of emergency. Please consult your pediatrician for directions and dosages if you plan to give medications like Dramamine or Benadryl to your child.

Things to Avoid

Things that roll or toys that have small pieces that may get lost easily: crayons, pencils, markers, LEGO bricks. Keep them safe in a case or don’t bring them. Another idea is to bring a small cookie sheet or tray with edges to keep runaway pieces in place.

Foods that have a strong smell may be unpleasant for other people in the car.

Toys or games that make noise or music. Duct tape over speakers may quiet some toys.

Toys for Travel

Gel clings for the windows

Wikki Stix Traveler Playset Kit

Masking Tape to make pictures or tracks for small cars– check out this Road Tape!

Animal Toobs

Mini Squigz

ColorformsMagnet boardsMagnatiles and Magformers

Magnetic Marble Puzzles

Squishy stress balls 

no-roll crayons

Rubik’s Cube, Flexi PuzzleCoggyTangle toys

Boogie Board to write and draw without mess or tons of paper

Find It cylinders as a fun, travel way to find and seek

Blind boxes:

On The Go gamesTroubleHangman, Travel Bingo

Reusable Sticker Books

Felt Board

Etch-A-SketchMagna DoodleWater Coloring Pages

Cra-Z-Art Mini Magna Doodle

Etch A Sketch – Classic

Fashion Plates

Melissa and Doug Tape Activity Book

Scratch Art Books

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