Dr. Samuel Johnson said on September 20, 1777, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” The same can be said of modern Chicago, since it has some of the finest museums, zoos, shops, parks, public artwork, theaters, and restaurants in the world. However, even with all the Windy City has to offer, it’s nice to get out of town occasionally. Here are five roadtrips from Chicago you should take this summer.
Head north to the state line. Bristol Renaissance Faire has been voted the Country’s Best Renaissance Faire for five years in a row, and it’s only an hour’s drive away. What is a Renaissance Faire? “A Renaissance Faire is a recreation of life during the Renaissance historical period that is a combination of a county fair, a living history display, and live improvisational theater with audience participation.” Saturdays and Sundays from July 9 to September 5, the Bristol Renaissance Faire is a chance to escape the 21st century and go back to the days of Queen Elizabeth I. Listen to the minstrels sing as you eat a turkey leg. Watch the jugglers, gymnasts, and dancers. Marvel at the knights jousting. Shout huzzah when Good Queen Bess and her court pass by. The faire is open from 10 am until 7 pm, and with 30 acres of shopping and entertainment, you’ll want all day to see everything. Come in modern clothing or dress in Renaissance garb; you’re welcome either way. There are children’s activities, as well as shopping and shows for the whole family. Visitors to Bristol Renaissance Faire may park in a preferred parking lot close to the main gate for $5 or park for free on the north side of the faire.
Kenosha, Wisconsin, is an hour north of Chicago. Enjoy one of its many musical events: the Twilight Jazz free concerts July 19, July 26, August 4, and August 30; Peanut Butter & Jam free concerts July 14, July 21, July 28, August 4, August 11, August 18, and August 25; Lincoln Park Live free concerts July 13, July 27, August 10, and September 14; or the Country Thunder Music Festival July 21 – 24. Visit the Kenosha Public Museum; admission is free. Learn about natural science and fine arts, walking distance from Lake Michigan. Ride the Electric Streetcar. Eat at Choo Choo Charlie’s, Boat House Pub & Eatery, Ashling on the Lough, or Kaiser’s Pizza and Pub. Stop at Mars Cheese Castle and Bobby Nelson’s to buy cheese and sausage. If you have kids, go to nearby Pleasant Prairie and take the tour of the Jelly Belly Factory.
From Chicago to Zion, Illinois, is only a short ride on the Metra or an easy drive. Visit Shiloh House, the mansion once home to Zion’s founder, Dr. Dowie. Illinois Beach State Park offers natural beauty with dunes, marshes, and forests. It’s a great place for swimming, hiking, bicycling, or a picnic. Zion has two golf courses, Shepherd’s Crook Golf Course and Shiloh Park Golf Course. August 27 and 28 is the 23rd Annual Potawotami Trails Pow Wow, featuring Native American music, dance, fry bread, and merchandise. The Concert in the Park series has rock, soul, and classical music: July 14, July 21, July 28, August 4, August 11, and September 4. The 68th Annual Zion Jubilee Days will be September 3 – 5.
Highland Park, Illinois, is home to the Port Clinton Art Festival August 27 and 28 and the Ravinia Festival, the oldest outdoor music festival in the nation, which runs from June to September every summer. This summer it will include Duran Duran, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Bonnie Raitt, and Judy Collins. Heller Nature Center has a hiking trail that wanders through the woods to a pond. The Highland Park Historical Society Museum includes the Francis Stupey Log Cabin, built in 1847.
Rockford, Illinois is roughly two hours from Chicago. It has several museums and parks. Anderson Japanese Gardens are beautiful, a wonderful place to commune with nature. It is home to the Japanese Summer Festival July 30 and 31. Museums in Rockford include Discovery Center Museum for children and parents, Burpee Museum of Natural History for the scientifically inclined, Midway Village and Museum Center, Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum & Gardens, and Camp Grant Museum for history buffs, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House. Catch a show at Coronado Performing Arts Center. For nature buffs, the Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden and Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens are well worth a visit. If you want to cool off and have some aquatic fun, visit Magic Waters Waterpark in nearby Cherry Valley.
For more information about what to do in or near Chicago this summer, contact us.