Some of our best camping memories take place just a few hours away from the Chicago suburbs. We have tested many family campgrounds near Chicago and these are our tried and true favorites.
The main reason that I like campgrounds that are within a few hours of our home is that we can have a long weekend getaway. It is so easy to leave after work hours on Thursday, play for 2 full days, and head home on Sunday. These mini-vacations are the way we most enjoy camping.
My girls were pretty cute when they knew I was going to recommend our favorite campgrounds. I asked them which were their favorites and why. They quickly said they weren’t sure they wanted me to write this post since everyone will go to our family’s favorite campgrounds.
This summer it has been exciting to see so many new families embrace camping. My attitude is the more the merrier so I hope you find this list helpful and maybe we will see you at one of the family campgrounds near Chicago.
Jellystone in Warrens, Wisconsin
The first time I remember going to Jellystone Park was in middle school. My family lived just outside of LaCrosse, Wisconsin so it was a quick drive over to Warrens. We would purchase a day pass and enjoy the beach, pool, and water slide.
Over the years, Jellystone has expanded and built a waterpark with a lazy river, wave pool, and kids water structure. My girls have been camping at Jellystone before they could walk so this campground has a special place in our hearts.
From the Chicago area it is over a 3-hour drive, but it is totally worth it. We have stayed in all different parts of the campground and each one has its own feel. I personally like to stay in the middle near all the action but when the girls were babies that was hard because it would be loud late into the evening.
Each week Jellystone has a different theme. It is fun to participate in the activities that the campground organizes. The glow parade, bubble fun, and Yogi cartoons are some that we always make sure to do.
Wisconsin dells KOA, Wisconsin
There is no lack of fun activities when we stay in the Wisconsin Dells. My grandparents lived just outside of Baraboo so I have a lot of fun memories of this area. We have camped in many different state parks and private campgrounds around Wisconsin Dells and this KOA is one of our favorite family campgrounds near Chicago hands down.
The Wisconsin Dells KOA is located on the north side of where all the action is. We are close enough to the waterparks, Devil’s Lake State Park, Mirror Lake, and the Wisconsin River to enjoy during the day and then slip back to peace and quiet at night.
Last summer, we camped here over Mike’s birthday at the end of August and it was our favorite camping trip. Our highlights from that trip were:
- Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area
- Devil’s Lake State Park
- Tommy Bartlett Show
- Kalahari Waterpark
- Moose Jaw Pizza
- Mac’s Macaroni and Cheese
- Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty
We are hoping to get back to this area still this summer. We want to rent a boat to explore more of the Wisconsin River and take the girls to Noah’s Ark Waterpark.
Covert/ South Haven KOA, Michigan
Since moving to the Chicago area, I have heard about the beautiful Tulip Festival in Holland, Michigan. We decided to check it out a few years ago over Mother’s Day and we were not disappointed.
The KOA in Covert/South Haven was the closest KOA to Holland. This was our first camping trip to the area so we booked a deluxe cabin at the always reliable KOA. If I haven’t been to the area, KOAs are my go-to campgrounds. I read the reviews of the particular site and have always been pleased with the amenities and cleanliness.
This family campground near Chicago made a perfect home base. We took day excursions into Holland and the Lake Michigan Beach. The area was beautiful, offered many family-owned restaurants, and gave us a flavor of Holland.
The campground had a jumping pillow, rock climbing wall, and trampoline basketball for the girls to play as we relaxed back at the cabin campfire. They offered an inexpensive pancake breakfast to start our day off right. This was a well-kept family-owned campground that we are excited to visit again that is why it made our top family campgrounds near Chicago list.
On our way home, we hiked in the Indiana Dunes to stretch our legs and dip our feet in the water. I was so glad that we took the time to explore Michigan and Indiana.
These top 3 family campgrounds near Chicago ensure that you have plenty of activities while enjoying the great outdoors. They consistently provide clean facilities, are located in great areas, and only require a quick drive to enjoy.
Turkey Run State Park in Indiana has been recommended to me over the past couple of years. One lady, who has camped internationally, went so far to say that Turkey Run was the most beautiful area she has ever camped. With that strong recommendation, I have added it to the places I would love to explore. Hopefully, we head south next summer and check out Turkey Run.
I would love any insight you have into exploring Turkey Run.
What are your favorite family campgrounds near Chicago?
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