Best Of Chicago

Best Chicago Area Road Trip Stops

September 7, 2011 3:00 PM

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Starved Rock

When traveling by car to vacation destinations, families often cannot fathom driving straight through without taking a break, especially if the kids have anything to say about it. Luckily, while driving to Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and other popular day-trip vacation destinations, there are several worthy pit stops families can incorporate into their vacations. Here’s a list of the top places to enjoy when heading out of Chicago with the family in tow.

To The South:

Amish Country of Central Illinois
Location: Various towns
www.amishcountryofcentralil.com

Ever wanted to know how butter is made? Curious about life without iPods and iPhones and Droids? Closet thing kids have been to a real live farm animal was a renegade bunny that escaped from its cage? An afternoon in Amish county could be the answer if you’re traveling south on Interstate 57. Both Tuscola and Arcola are popular among travelers as both are near  the interstate. Be sure to check out group tours, especially if you are up for dining on authentic meal in the home of an Amish family’s.

To The North:

The Jelly Belly Factory
10100 Jelly Belly Ln.
Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158-3631
(866) 868-7522
www.jellybelly.com

Heading north on Interstate 94 into Wisconsin could include a sweet stop for families who are ready for a break from travel. The Jelly Belly factory offers tours of the plant, ushering families via train through Candy Alley. During the train ride, families will learn together how the candy is made. Everyone is then welcome to stop at the Sample Bar and taste various bean flavors.

To The East:

Shipshewanna
780 N. Van Buren St.
Shipshewanna, IN 46565
www.backroads.org

Learning more about a simpler way of life with your family by visiting Indiana’s Amish Country in Shipshewana could be a vacation in itself. However, being only slightly off the beaten path of Interstate 80, it’s also a must-visit pitstop. Families are welcome to tour the backroads in a buggy, dine in the town’s small, quaint cafes and browse the handmade items and foods in the shops that line the streets.

The Indiana Dunes
Porter,  IN 46304
(219) 926-2255
www.indianadunes.com

When traveling west on Interstates 94 and 80, the Indiana Dunes offers a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch or just let the kids out of the car to play for an hour or two. Granted, mom and dad will need to remember to pack swim clothes and sand shoes if water play is an option, but simply hiking around the dunes and stopping to picnic while enjoying the scenery is a wonderful way to get into nature and enjoy a few hours of your road trip outside of the car.

To The West:

Starved Rock State Park
Rt. 178 and 71
Utica, IL 61373
(800) 868-ROCK
www.starvedrockstatepark.org

Need to stretch your legs before another jaunt in the car while heading west on Interstate 80? Stop at Starved Rock State Park, unload the family and hike a trail or two. Bringing a picnic lunch makes for a fun afternoon, but for those who prefer indoor eating, the main dining hall is open to the public year round. Spring and heavy rains give life to waterfalls, so be sure to ask if the falls are flowing during your visit.

 

Hyacynth Worth writes daily about mothering, faith and life with small children who cannot make it in the car for more than two hour stretches without a pitstop at Undercover Mother.

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