How Can I Have a Good Vacation These days?

Now that Gasoline is So High….

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But Gasoline and Food and Everything are All so Expensive!

That is certainly true!

As we write this, we hear of hundreds to thousands of flight being cancelled at the last minute in the United States and Europe especially.  This is because flight crews are understaffed because of firings and layoffs due to some crew members not being willing to get the corona virus vaccine.

And with fuel prices so high, a ticket that was reasonable just a year ago is now much, much more expensive.

And most airlines still insist that passengers wear the mask for the duration of their flight except when eating or drinking and some passengers will get very angry if a passenger doesn’t re-mask as they chew the last bite!

And a lot of people are just sick and tired of masking all the time after two and a half years of pandemic that seems no longer like a true pandemic!

So, air travel is no fun and driving has gotten expensive as well.  What to do?  The answer is to shorten the drive and find things that will fill a long weekend an hour or so from home.

What Great Vacation Locations are an Hour or so from….?

Let’s explore great vacation areas and ideas close to a central metropolitan area in the United States.  This is Chicago which is a giant city well worth a weekend visit.  There is also plenty to do just an hour or so from the city.

First, let’s make a list of places some people like to go to on a short vacation.  A very expensive place like that vacation area near Orlando will not be on this list:

  1. Hiking trails for families, couples, of varying difficulty.
  2. Swimming in lakes or rivers.
  3. Minor league baseball stadiums.
  4. Museums.
  5. Mountains.
  6. Outlet malls.
  7. Outdoor theaters.
  8. Wineries and local breweries.
  9. Bird sanctuaries.
  10. Antique shops.
  11. County and state fairs.
  12. Local fairs.
  13. Charming small towns.

Aren’t These Vacation Ideas Different for Families and Adults?

Yes, they are!

For example, if you are travelling with kids, you might look for a great children’s museum, a petting zoo, and a hotel with a good outdoor pool.  In the winter, and indoor pool is a must but the indoor areas usually are full of chlorine fumes so the outdoor variety is a lot better if you are travelling in the warmer months.

Also, hiking with kids is a lot different than hiking with adults.  Circular trails are a lot better when you are hiking with kids since you are never very far from the end of the trail if you have to take the kid on your back!

Minor league baseball is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea but there are so many minor league teams and the atmosphere at a small town minor league ballpark is so much different than the atmosphere at a major league ballpark.

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Anyone who remembers what the atmosphere was like at Wrigley Field in Chicago when the Cubs were lovable losers knows what the atmosphere is like at every minor league ballpark: it doesn’t matter who wins as long as you have a good time!

We would venture to say that outlet malls are strictly for adults.  You might think the same about wineries but often a winery will give a tour of the vineyard or let visitors wander among the vines.

The show being performed at an outdoor theater will determine if it’s for adults only or can also be fun for kids.

Due Diligence is a Must

In this internet age, we can all go to our search engine and ask as many questions as we like and get all the answers we need to make a short, nearby vacation the best vacation we ever had!

Obviously, we can’t cover everything worthwhile in or near Chicago in a short article.  So, you can do a lot of the research yourself!  You will be amazed at how much there is to enjoy just an hour or so from the city!

What is One Hour from Chicago?

Chicago may not be exactly in the middle of the country but it’s close enough.  You can drive one hour in each direction and find interesting things to do.

No matter where you are in the Chicago area, you are no more than one hour from Brookfield Zoo which has animals in as close to their natural habitat as possible.  The Museum of Science and Industry is a great hands on museum for kids and adults alike.  Everyone loves the celestial show at the Planetarium and Chicago also boasts an Aquarium.  The Art Institute may not be what everyone is looking for but it is still a great place to see on a vacation.

Here are highlights of a vacation about one hour from Chicago:

  1. Indiana Dunes (no, not Indiana Jones!) is exactly that: a kind of oasis with real sand dunes for people to climb up barefoot.
  2. Geneva has great museums, the Fox River runs through the town, there are many small lakes, a park with “everything” and a lot more!
  3. Lakes Region. About an hour north of the city is an area of hundreds of lakes with fun activities especially on summer weekends.
  4. Starved Rock State Park is an hour and a half southwest of the city.
  5. There are several minor league teams near Chicago. This does not include the Cubs (haha, says a White Sox fan)!

County and State Fairs are Great for Weekend Vacations

Even as big and sprawling as the Chicago Metropolitan Area is, there are many counties within short driving distance.  These state and county fairs may be more crowded this year than most because so many people from Chicago are thinking the same thing you are about short driving rather than long distance driving.

Still, a county fair spreads out over a vast area.  Kids and adults alike who are unfamiliar with farm sights, sounds, and (dare we say it) smells will be fascinated by seeing cows, pigs, and other animals in the flesh, as it were!

Check into the Charm of Many Small Towns

We did a search on “the most charming small towns near Chicago” and this is what we found:

  1. Long Grove
  2. New Buffalo, Michigan is only 75 minutes from the city.
  3. St. Joseph, Michigan is about 90 minutes from the city.
  4. Woodstock
  5. St. Charles
  6. Ottawa
  7. Sycamore
  8. Elmhurst

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