(Photo Credit: visitkenosha.com)

(Photo Credit: visitkenosha.com)

With the first day of school just around the corner, you might want to squeeze in one last day trip with your kids. A day trip maximizes your time, as you can take a quick trip outside of the Chicago area without booking a hotel. From a water park to a state park, here are five ideas for a day trip with your kids. All destinations are within approximately 200 miles from downtown Chicago, making them doable for a one-day excursion.
Kenosha, Wisconsin

Travel about 60 miles north of downtown Chicago and explore the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, with your kids. The city boasts a number of family-friendly activities, including the must-see Dinosaur Discovery Museum and Kenosha Public Museum. If you travel on a Saturday and plan to visit the city’s museums, then you can also shop for local produce and cheese at the Kenosha Harbor Market, located just steps from Lake Michigan. Other options include the Jelly Belly Visitor Center in nearby Pleasant Prairie, where you can tour the warehouse. Before you return home, consider loading up on cheese at Mars Cheese Castle or Woodman’s Markets, both of which are located in Kenosha.

Illini State Park
2660 E. 2350th Road
Marseilles, IL 61341
(815) 795-2448

Enjoy a day of serenity and exploring nature at Illini State Park. The park has outdoor activities for everyone, including boating and fishing. You and your family can pack a backpack with hiking gear and explore the trails in the park, too. If you’d like to enjoy lunch while on the trail, then consider cooling your heels while picnicking at the park’s designated spots. Dogs are allowed at Illini State Park, but must be kept on a leash. The park is approximately 80 miles from downtown Chicago.

Magic Waters Waterpark
7820 CherryVale North Blvd.
Cherry Valley, IL 61016
(800) 373-1679

End summer with a splash by spending the day at Magic Waters Waterpark. The park is located about 80 miles from downtown Chicago and features a number of attractions for kids of all ages. Magic Waters has a lazy river for those who want to relax, and several water slides for those who want a bit of adventure on the water. There are also some activities for children under the age of six, with the park’s Little Lagoon offering a special splash area and shorter water slides for younger kids. Keep in mind the regular season ends Aug. 23, but the park remains open on select dates through Sept. 7; for additional information, check out the park’s website.

Related: Best Family-Friendly Bike Trails In Chicago

The Quad Cities

Why visit one city when you can visit five? Although known as the Quad Cities, the area actually comprises five cities: Moline, Rock Island and East Moline in Illinois, and Bettendorf and Davenport in Iowa. The area boasts an assortment of kid-friendly attractions, including John Deere Pavilion and Family Museum. Want to get outside, too? The area includes plenty of places to hike, bike, explore gardens and more. Take some time to explore the Mississippi River, too. The area is located about 175 miles from downtown Chicago.


Located about 200 miles from Chicago’s downtown, the state capital is a must-see for families who want to add a bit of history to the last few weeks of summer. The city is all about Abraham Lincoln and has an assortment of places where history buffs can learn more about the 16th president, including the Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln Depot and Lincoln Tomb. Other options include the Illinois State Museum and Air Combat Museum. Biking, hiking and other outdoor activities are in the area, too.

Related: Best Places For Horseback Riding In Chicago

Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.