If you want to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Windy City (and a slice of the best deep-dish pizza), but you also want to pitch your tent or park your recreational vehicle, there are many fabulous camping spots near the city. There is even a campground right on the shore of Lake Michigan with a beautiful beach. Here is a list of places to have the absolute best camping near Chicago!
1) Illinois Beach State Park
If you want to stay along the shores of Lake Michigan, this is the campground for you. The State Park stretches for 6.5 miles of the lake right along the sand dunes. There are showers, restrooms, and access to electricity. They fill up fast, so make your reservations early. Illinois Beach State Park has lots of bike trails and trails for hiking. Check out Sand Pond for some fishing or take a boat out on Lake Michigan for some fishing.
|Distance from Downtown Chicago||45 miles (1-hour drive)|
|Location||North of downtown, on Lake Michigan|
|RV/Tent Sites||244 sites for RV’s or Tents|
|Amenities||Showers, restrooms, electric hookups|
|Reservations||Yes, some are first come first serve|
|What makes it the absolute best||On the shores of Lake Michigan!|
2) Camp Bullfrog Lake
If you want to stay close to downtown, but have an “in the woods” camping experience, head out to Camp Bullfrog Lake. Only a half-hour southwest of Chicago, this camp is right on Bullfrog Lake. There are tent sites, RV sites, and a couple of cabins to rent. Each site has its own picnic table and fire ring. You can rent kayaks right on site for only $10 an hour for a single kayak and $15 for a tandem. The 16-acre lake is stocked with rainbow trout, so bring your fishing gear!
|Distance from downtown Chicago||22 miles (30 min drive)|
|Location||SW of downtown, just outside the city|
|RV Sites||26 sites, with electricity|
|Tent Sites||5 sites|
|Cabins||3 large (10 people max), 8 small (8 people max)|
|What makes it the absolute best||Sites right on the lake, great fishing!|
3) Indiana Dunes National Park
Indiana Dunes National Park is a popular spot for Chicagoans to get out of the city and “head to the dunes”. There are two camping options, the smaller Dunewood Campground or the larger Indiana Dunes State Park Campground. A short hike down to the dunes, and you can hike to the top of the tallest one which is 192 feet above the shore. Or try the 3 Dune Challenge where you run (or walk) up and down all three dunes in a 1.5-mile loop. Running on the sand and up the steep dunes is quite the workout! Visit the nature center to learn about all of the birds, cottontails, raccoons, and beavers that call the park home. Also, see if you can spot the unique thirteen-lined ground squirrel that looks like a chipmunk but has black stripes.
|Distance from Downtown Chicago||50 miles (1 hour drive)|
|Location||Over the border in Indiana, on Lake Michigan|
|RV Sites||140 sites with hookups|
|Tent Sites at Dunewood||66 sites, restrooms and showers|
|Amenities||showers, restroom, electrical hookups|
|What makes it the absolute best||Climb to the top of a 192-foot sand dune!|
4) Camp Sullivan
The large red barn with an outdoor patio is a great place for weddings or family reunions. There is a variety of places to stay which includes tent campsites, RV sites, several large bunkhouses, and a few cabins. Enjoy the Tinley Creek Trail system to get back to nature with paved and unpaved sections that form a loop. Hike out to one of the three lakes to look for waterfowl and try fishing at Arrowhead lake. This lake has largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, channel catfish, and crappie.
|Distance to downtown Chicago||25 miles (35 min drive)|
|Location||SW of downtown, just outside the city|
|RV Sites||10 sites|
|Tent Sites||15 sites|
|Large Bunkhouse||2 (each can take 36 people)|
|Small Bunkhouse||1 (can take 16 people)|
|Cabins||4 (each can take 8 people)|
|Amenities||Showers, restrooms, camp store, activity barn|
|What makes it the absolute best||Amazing Activity Barn with climbing wall.|
5) Big Foot Beach State Park
With a name like “Big Foot Beach”, you know you will have to sleep with one eye open. Located on the shores of Lake Geneva, this park is a bit further from downtown but has a wonderful camping feel. There is a nice swimming beach in the park, so you can enjoy the large Lake Geneva which is a popular recreational lake in Wisconsin. Bring your kayak or canoe for a great day on the lake. The park also has 6.5 miles of hiking trails through the forest and grasslands.
|Distance to downtown Chicago||85 miles (about a 2 hour drive)|
|Location||NW of Chicago, the nearest city is Lake Geneva|
|RV Sites||34 RV sites|
|Tent Sites||100 tent sites, some walk-in sites|
|Amenities||Picnic tables, vault toilets, restrooms, showers|
|What makes it the absolute best||Access to the popular Lake Geneva.|
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