The 4th of July weekend is here! Are you bummed because you don’t have a fancy lake house to go and spend the long weekend on your boat, grilling steaks and lobster? Do not worry, you too, can and should get out of the house and do something fun this weekend, and this summer generally. Life is short and we never know when some turn of events makes it more difficult to take weekend trips and gas tank getaways. The average price of gas in Illinois is $2.40 which is lower than recent weekends, and pretty good for the summertime generally. Here are some tips on fun weekend destinations and activities that will not break the bank. Remember, it is not how much money you have that matters, it is how smart you are at getting more for your hard earned buck.
5 great gas tank getaways and weekend trips from Chicago – click on the titles to visit the links:
- Starved Rock State Park
100 miles west on I 80 just before I 39 you will find one of Illinois’ best state parks, full of hiking, fishing and boating with canyons, trails and log cabins. Someone who visited last week and must have camped, had this to say in a Google review, “Awesome. Trials are outstanding, delivering the most beautiful views, and being very well maintained ! Campground was good as well. Hot and reasonably clean showers, very nice sites.”
Travel tip: bring good hiking shoes, the trails are fun, but not in flip flops.
- Chicago Museums and Navy Pier in Chicago
Don’t want to drive or don’t have a car? Hop on the Metra or a CTA train to the Loop and museum campus just to the south of Grant Park. You can visit museums that are “donation only” or have affordable deals on tickets, especially during the summertime and holiday weekends when tourists are in town. The Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and the Museum of Science and Industry should be on the top of your list. Maybe do one per adventure because there is so much to see. When you’re done at the museum, walk or take a cab to nearby Navy Pier to grab something to eat and enjoy all the entertainment and people watching you desire. If you’re daring, look for one of those Jet Ski rentals at Navy Pier or ask someone there where you can get your hands on one.
Travel tip: bring a backpack with essentials, maybe snacks and waters.
- Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
75 miles north off I 94 you will be able to Escape to Wisconsin without driving all the way up to Door County and worry about all those fine members of Wisconsin law enforcement. If you want to go camping or stay at a nice bed and breakfast, you can find just about whatever you are looking for in the Lake Geneva area. Many people recommend the Lake Geneva Canopy Tours – zip lining, starting at $30 for an unbelievable ride and views. After you recover from thrill-seeking, fishing, boating or simply laying around, there are great places to eat. From Annie’s Burgertown ($) to BJ Wentkers ($$$) Triangle Bar & Grill, Lake Geneva has options for every taste and budget.
Travel tip: clean off your camera lens and start snapping for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!
- Six Flags Great America in Waukegan
You are never too old to go to Six Flags! It shouldn’t take more than an hour to get there from just about anywhere in Chicagoland. Take your kids or take yourself and spend a day getting back to your childhood and take in the Americana that is a big roller coaster theme park. Of course there are all sorts of things to do there if the big coasters are not your thing. You certainly won’t have a hard time finding treats to eat and souvenirs to bring home. If you are sticking to a budget, but still want to go on the best rides and get your money worth, get the FLASH Pass and walk right up to your short VIP line instead of waiting in the sometimes very long lines for the popular and newer rides.
Travel tip: sunscreen will be your best friend because you can get burned easily when having fun.
- Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
If you really need to take a break from work, daily life and chores, consider indulging in one of the concert events of the season – Summerfest, in Milwaukee. Also 100 miles and just short of two hours depending on traffic, Milwaukee is much closer than most of us realize. And if there was ever a place to walk around listening to great music and enjoying a few beers, Milwaukee should be at the top of the list. Some people take the Amtrak train from Union Station and save money on gas, parking and worry about driving after drinking those beers. The music lineup at Summerfest is always impressive and you can catch major acts as well as some more local bands.
Travel tip: study the map of the grounds before you go and use the buddy system; it’s easy to get lost or mixed up with a crowd of fun people.
We hope everyone has a fun and safe 4th of July weekend. If any of these day or weekend trips are fun, let us know. And even if you stay home, you can close your eyes and go on imaginary trips wherever you want!
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