By Jessica Cage

It’s easy to get away from Chicago to Waukegan in just an hour, but take the long way instead. Make some quick but unforgettable stops to turn a simple drive into a great time you will always remember. The great part about this getaway is that you can accomplish it on just a tank of gas, and the end result, Waukegan, is always a good time.

Getting There

A drive down Sheridan Road promises a great scenic route from Chicago to Waukegan that only takes about an hour and 45 minutes. This route puts the driver just west of Lake Michigan — on a warm summer day this is perfect for enjoying the sights, sounds and cool air that flows in currents off the lake.

Along the way there are great places to stop for pictures and food. The Hubbard Woods, Skokie Lagoons, the Chicago Botanic Gardens, and Brookside Plaza offer great detours for unforgettable views and great eats.

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Waukegan History Museum
Bowen Park
1917 N. Sheridan Road
Waukegan, IL 60087
(847) 336-1859

Price: free

No trip is complete without getting a taste of the history of the land. Visit one of the many historical landmarks throughout Waukegan to learn about this awesome area’s history and culture. For a group tour, call ahead and schedule an appointment. Enjoy Victorian architecture and more than 200 photos and maps of the region throughout the ages. Once a trading post and agricultural city, Waukegan survived the industrial era and now it’s all about service, making it ideal for explorers of all kinds.

Related: Fun For The Road – Car Games for Your Next Road Trip

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

Rocky’s Fun House Miniature Golf
2411 Grand Ave.
Waukegan, IL 60085-3314
(847) 336-5700

Price: $7 adults/$5 children

Rocky’s Fun House Miniature Golf is a must-see attraction in Waukegan. This glow-in-the-dark adventure offers four themes with 18 holes of fun, and if you manage to get a hole-in-one on the 18th hole, you get another 18 holes for free. This is a low-cost adventure that everyone must experience on a fun day away from home. If you aren’t into golfing, it also offers a fun center, where there are hundreds of games and rides perfect for any road-weary traveler.


Genesee Theatre
203 N. Genesee St.
Waukegan, IL 60085
(847) 782-2366

Try planning your trip around an evening at the Genesee Theatre. This theater was recently restored and reopened in December of 2004 when it sold out for one of Bill Cosby’s all-American shows. The 115,000-square-foot space allows for a variety of performances and is even available for renting out for special events. From classic comedy to some of the best film series the area has to offer, an evening at Genessee is not to be missed.

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Joplin’s Java
114 S. Genesee
Waukegan, IL 60085

This local coffee shop offers a relaxing atmosphere with an awesome view of the Waukegan river. Pair that with its 100 percent Arabica beans — no blends here — brewed into custom cups of caffeine heaven. Enjoy the perfect spot to take a break from all the fun in Waukegan. Don’t be afraid to hang out for a while, casual gaming Fridays offer everyone the perfect opportunity to revisit their playful sides with Scrabble, Apples to Apples and even Uno.

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Gators Wing Shack
1801 Belvidere St.
Waukegan, IL 60085
(847) 263-3900

If you visit Waukegan, you have to have dinner at Gators Wing Shack. This grill and pizzeria offers a variety of delicious foods to satisfy your taste buds. Its wings won the top honor of “Best of Fest” in Chicago’s Annual Wing Fest, so when this place promises the best wings, it’s not just pulling your leg. If wings do it for you and not that tame significant other, menu options abound from salad to seafood. End your trip here, bunker down in a nearby hotel or hop on the I-94 and be home in Chicago in no time.

Related: Road Trip Rules- Prep For A Safe and Fun Road Trip

Jessica Cage is a freelance writer from Chicago. Her work can be found at