If you are itching to get outside, take advantage of the beautiful weather in Illinois and take a day trip to one of these forests, lakes, and hiking trails. Chicago and Naperville have some of the best parks that the United States has to offer. Pack some sunscreen, water, and RXBARs to make sure you are fueled on your next outdoor adventure.
Our first pick is Indiana Dunes in Porter County! Just 54 miles from Chicago, the Indiana Dunes are a must-visit for locals. This park wraps around 15 miles of Lake Michigan. Hike, bird watch, and more! Hikers will have access to over 50 miles of rugged dunes, mysterious wetlands, sunny prairies, meandering rivers, and peaceful forests. Take a breather and explore this national park’s 15,000 acres. We recommend getting up early and bringing your camera so you can capture the beautiful sunrise off of the dunes.
We love visiting Cook County’s very first forest preserve, Deer Grove. Only about a 55-minute drive from Naperville, this preserve offers all types of landscapes: wetlands, prairie, wooded ravines, and more. It’s like being in 5 places at once. There are hiking trails, biking trails, and you can bring your dog on a leash. Deer Grove also has Birding Hot Spots so make sure to bring your binoculars! Go in the winter to utilize their cross country skiing and ice skating features. This summer bring your fishing poles and gear and fish the day away. Just remember to bring bug spray!
Take your dog and walk along the Thorn Creek Trail in Sweet Woods. Just 46 miles away from Naperville, this outdoor gem has 20 miles of paved and unpaved trails that connect to forest preserves, wetlands, and more. If you want to get a little more exercise in, bring your running shoes! The paved walkways are perfect for running. Your pup will love the fast pace too. Don’t forget to pause throughout your walk/run and admire the lakes and wildlife! In the colder months, you can also go cross country skiing!
North Branch Trail
This trail is perfect if you need a break from city life and want a good breath of fresh air. It connects Chicago to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. The North Branch Trail System is connected to 18 different woods and gardens so you can explore something new each time you visit. Open year-round from sunrise to sunset, visitors can hike, bike, and even cross country ski here. If you want to go a little out of your comfort zone, explore the trails on horseback! Before you gallop your way through, make sure to sign up for a Rider’s Licence beforehand.
For our homeowners living in Ashwood Park or Hidden Creek in Naperville, enjoying local parks is also a convenient option. With 136 parks to choose from in the area, you’ll never get tired of selections. Since these parks are close to home, visits can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Gather the family, pack some water and snacks, and spend the day outside in your neighborhood park. Check out our previous blog, At Home Exercise/Exercise Outside Near Naperville for some more of our favorite Naperville parks, as well as some easy at home workouts you can incorporate into your outdoor routine.
Have we missed any of your favorite local outdoor destinations? Let us know on social!