Day trips on a budget can be both educational and fun; they can also be memorable for both kids and parents alike. There are so many things to do near Chicago and whether you live in Illinois or are planning to visit the Chicago area, day trips on a budget can turn into experiences that can create memories for a lifetime. The natural and educational resources offered in the areas near and surrounding Chicago are tremendous and abundant. Here you will find the top five best day trips near Chicago in terms of educational value, fun value and services offered.

(Photo Credit: Bartlett Park District's Facebook)

(Photo Credit: Bartlett Park District’s Facebook)

Nature Center at the James “Pate” Philip State Park
2054 W. Stearns Road
Bartlett, IL 60177
(847) 608-3100
www.bartlettparks.org/naturecenter

This resource is a gem camouflaged on Stearns Road in Bartlett, Illinois. When driving by the facility, it does not appear showy or particularly eye catching, and it is easy to miss, but going into the Nature Center at the James “Pate” Philip State Park and surrounding area is a completely different story. The goal of the Nature Center is to encourage kids to participate in the preservation of the natural areas and the animals that live within them through hands-on projects, games and activities. The Nature Center is part of the Bartlett Park District and the Center includes displays and collections, live exotic animals and a resource library.

Hickory Knolls Discovery Center
3795 Campton Hills Road
St. Charles IL 60175
(630) 513-4399
www.stcnature.org

This beautiful 10,500-square-foot building offers a wide range of attractions that appeal to visitors of all ages. Hickory Knolls offers LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification, live animal displays, interactive floor-to-ceiling murals, room rentals for special events and birthday parties hosted by a trained naturalist staff. The Hickory Knolls Discovery Center is surrounded by a 131-acre natural area which includes restored wetlands, woodlands, savanna and prairie featuring hiking trails and a picnic pavilion. This natural treasure is a must visit if you are looking to appreciate what we have in Illinois.

Elgin Public Museum
225 Grand Blvd.
Elgin, IL 60120
(847) 741-6655
www.elginpublicmuseum.org

The Elgin Public Museum houses a variety of collections that focus on history and anthropology. Examples of the collections are endangered species, Fox River ecosystem, Ice Age era, Irish deer, La Salle Expedition, Mason Creek fossils, Native American, Natural History and rocks and minerals. The museum is located within the lovely 108-acre Lords Park; the park offers playground equipment, eating areas and beautiful scenery to look at.

Related: Best Day Trips For Under $100 In The Chicago Area

AZoosment Park at Santa’s Village
601 Dundee Ave.
West Dundee, IL 60118
(847) 426-6751
www.santasvillagedundee.com

AZoosment Park at Santa’s Village offers all members of the family a day filled with fun. It is a kiddie park that offers some rides and activities as well as animal attractions for kids ages 2-11. Kids can ride ponies and unlimited pony rides are included in the admission fee. Kids can also pet, feed and learn about farm and exotic animals. AZoosment Park at Santa’s Village is a great place to take a family day trip in the northwest suburbs. AZoosment Park is on the Santa’s Village property and some of the memorabilia and rides from Santa’s Village are in place at the park.

Randall Oaks Barnyard Zoo
1180 N. Randall Road
West Dundee, IL 60118
(847) 551-4310
www.dtpd.org

There are many wonderful barnyard animals at Randall Oaks Barnyard Zoo that are available for viewing, petting and feeding. Some of the animals include cows, goats, pigs, horses, sheep, ducks, deer, donkeys and peacocks, plus many more. Pony rides are also available for an additional fee. Randall Oaks also offers 141 acres of open space with several shelters, picnic areas, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, playgrounds and disc golf. It is a great place to spend time with animals and then picnic outside.

Related: Best Family Day Trips Outside Of Chicago

Michelle Guilbeau is an elementary teacher living in Chicago, Illinois. She has also experience in school administration and literacy coaching. Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.