Where to Go on a Road Trip..4 Hrs. or Less W/ One Year Old and 5 Year Olds...?

Updated on August 06, 2007
J.P. asks from Skokie, IL
5 answers

Hi Moms,
Yes it is summer time, and I would like to go on a road trip somewhere with my cousin and her 17 month old boy, my 5 year old twins, and my aunt and mom. I want to try something other than the Dells. I was thinking about Starved Rock, but I am not sure if this is suitable for us. Would there be enough to do for 3 days and would it be fun for my cousin's baby? I told my cousin I would look into this and I really am clueless as to where to go. I checked into a couple of other places, but it turned out to be a 6 hour drive. My cousin wants to go but she thinks her little one can only handle a few short hours in the car. (I totally understand this.)

I would love to hear about what states/towns in the midwest that you have visited and were pleased with for younger children.
Thank you for taking time out to help me get something planned for mid July.


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So What Happened?

Well.... we wound up going to Indiana Beach Resort. The amusement park was walking distance from our cottage. Our cottage was the best part about the place. Many of the cottages looked like they were in bad shape. So it was a pleasant surprise to see ours. It was clean, new, and a private pool right outside our cottage. HOWEVER, there was not much to do at Indiana Beach. The beach area was small and did not look appealing at all. So we skipped that part even though our cottage fee included free passes to the beach. The water spray area was no big deal considering there are better places in my own neighborhood. The amusement park itself was just okay. The kids had fun, though. The prices were reasonable at the park, but I'd rather pay a bit more and have some pleasant things to look at. There were no roaming characters in the park for the kids and it looked like the place had not been remodeled since the 70's. We drove everywhere to look for places to eat that were kid friendly. We finally found a place to eat after driving all over, but they had all ready closed for the night. If things do not improve, I can say we will definitely not go back. There are far to many other places to visit that are worth the time. I will have to try some of your suggestions next summer! We did try to get a reservation at Blue Harbor like Carrie had suggested, but everything was booked. I'll have to plan way ahead next time for that trip.

More Answers



answers from Chicago on

LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!! We go every year!

2 - 2.5 hour drive


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Saugatuck, MI would be a great place to go. There's a beach, and lots of fun little shops to poke into. There are a couple of resorts, and there are also a couple of small hotels in the downtown area. My husband and I went there for a couple of days last summer for our vacation, and had a really good time. There were tons of families with small kids. It's a really great place to go for a relaxing getaway. It took us about 3 hours from the NW side of Chicago. There's a paddle boat ride that goes out into Lake Michigan that the older kids (and adults) would get a kick out of.

Lake Geneva, WI would also be a good choice. There's more to do there. My family has a cabin near Lake Geneva and we go into "town" a couple of times every summer. There's a lot to do there, plus boat rides and the beach. Kids would love it, and so would the adults.

Galena, IL won't really keep you busy for that long. My husband and our 10-week old son and I went for Memorial Day weekend, and 2 days was just right. Any longer and we would have felt like we were there too long. It took about 3 hours from the near north suburbs.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Madison, WI. There is a ton to do. Walk around the lakes, farmers market on the capital square, childrens museum, state street, free zoo. Good parks and fantastic places to eat. (my favorite is Kabul on state street) We go all the time and the best thing is it is about 2 -2 1/2 hours. We always hate to leave. Good luck finding a place to visit...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Several of our friends were just telling me about this place: http://www.wildlifeprairiestatepark.org/

They have camping and rental cabins nearby, and our friends (2 families) went with preschool/baby aged kids for a long weekend. It looks like it's about 2 or 3 hours away.

Also, the Michiana area and lower coast of Michigan is nice, and close. New Buffalo has rental condos and so on if you just want to enjoy relaxing on the beach, and it's not that far away.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We've always enjoyed South Haven and/or Saugatuck Michigan for relaxing vacations not too far from home. There are great beaches, places to hike, berry picking, and a few decent restaurants and art galleries.

Starved Rock can be a good short trip too, but there's not much to do there other than hike, which little ones tend to tire of quickly. It's pretty though, and the lodge has a nice pool. There's a waterpark hotel nearby if you still want a taste of the Dells.

We've also done Lake Geneva, WI, Galena, IL, and the Illinois Beach State Park in Zion, which each have their own charms, but I am partial to Michigan.

1 mom found this helpful
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