End of Summer Budget-Friendly Trips for the Family

As the end of summer quickly approaches, here are a few last-minute summer getaway trips for families before the kids go back to school. The Illinois Office of Tourism offers a variety of budget-friendly family road trip ideas and experiences across the state and around Chicagoland.


  • The Field Museum has free admission days for Illinois residents on August 23, 24 and 30. Check out the In Jurassic Oceans: Monsters of the Deep exhibit, running through Sept. 5, where visitors will meet the underwater giants that lived 200 million years ago, delving into the latest scientific research to learn how these Jurassic giants evolved and comparing them to specimens of marine animals living today.
  • Chicago Air and Water Show (August 20 & 21) is the largest free show of its kind in the country. Enjoy this waterfront show that features stunning aerial displays above Lake Michigan. The show can be viewed along the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak Street, with North Avenue Beach and Navy Pier as the focal point.


  • Brookfield (30-min. drive from Chicago) – Head to Brookfield Zoo to explore over 500 species and more than 2,000 animals. Monday-Wednesday kids 11 years old and under get free admission into the zoo.
  • Lemont (45-min. drive from Chicago)The Forge: Lemont Quarries Adventure Park is an adventure lover’s paradise. Take advantage of the park’s new day pass to enjoy an unlimited number of activities like laser tag, archery range, axe throwing and so much more. The park features the largest aerial challenge course, tallest climbing towers and longest ziplines in the tri-state area. They offer mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing and paddle boat excursions that feed the appetite of adventure enthusiasts looking for unique challenges.
  • Crystal Lake (80-min. drive from Chicago) – Enjoy wakeboarding at Quarry Cable Park, a next-generation cable wake park complete with a Full-Size Six-Tower cable system with jumps and features for experienced riders and two System 2.0 Two-Tower cable systems for beginners.
  • Rockford (90-min. drive from Chicago)  Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the beloved film,  A League of Their Own – and the new League of Their Own Amazon series launching Aug. 12 – at the Rockford Peaches Fan Trail where you can get a glimpse into the life of the famous Rockford Peaches team and learn about their true life events and landmarks that still exist in Rockford. From the Beyer Stadium where they played home games, to the hotels and parks they frequented, the fan trail will let you live a day in the life of a Rockford Peach.

Central Illinois (3-hour drive from Chicago)

  • Enjoy outdoor adventures at Sankoty Lakes in Spring Bay (near Peoria) where families can try out fly fishing and lake fishing, biking, hiking, swimming at the beach and so much more
  • Spend the rest of the day and night at Wildlife Prairie Park, located in Hanna City, where you can be immersed in Illinois’ native wildlife. You can stand within ten yards of a black bear and have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to feed a bison named Big Mike. After exploring wildlife, sleep in a Santa Fe Train Caboose, decked out with train decor and located on the edge of the Bison and Elk Range, or stay in a unique Double Grain Bin Cottage.
  • Discover First Ascent Peoria where your family trip will be taken to new heights with an incredible climbing terrain for all ability levels and a full suite of yoga and fitness classes. People of all ages can have fun at First Ascent, whether you’re new to indoor rock climbing or a seasoned climber.

Savanna (2.5-hour drive from Chicago)

  • Rated #1 best small town for adventure, Savanna is a vibrant little river town nestled along the Mississippi River in Northwest Illinois.
  • Hike 15 miles of trails at Mississippi Palisades State Park (spanning 2,500 acres).
  • Bike the Great River Bike Trail (the trail follows the route of a former railroad).
  • Rent a kayak or book a tubing adventure along the river with CSavanna Adventures.


From the Web