Sometimes the only way to truly take advantage of the season is to strike up a bonfire or wander through a pine forest. Luckily, you can find all that and then some (think European linens) just outside Chicago. Here are five great spots for camping and glamping–all of them less than three hours away by car.
CAMP WANDAWEGA IN LAKE VIEW ELKHORN, WI
This beloved camping spot is no frills and makes no bones about it. Guests even have to read the “Manifesto of Low Expectations”–which promises bugs–before they go. But if you can get over the mosquitoes, you’ll find a perfectly chill vacation filled with hiking, canoeing, bonfires and lazing on a private beach. Oh, and there’s a tree house.
ILLINOIS BEACH STATE PARK IN ZION, IL
About an hour outside Chicago, there’s a summer retreat with a bike path, wildflowers and six and a half miles of sandy beach. You’ll need a permit to set up camp here, but once you do, you’ll have electricity and access to showers. (It’s the little things.) Save plenty of time for nature walks: The place is filled with black-oak forests and fragrant pines.
FULLER’S RESORT AND CAMPGROUND IN BUCHANAN, MI
About an hour and a half outside Chicago, this spot has a log cabin, cottages and rental trailers. But, back to that log cabin: With a stone fireplace and wood floors, it’s a perfectly rustic spot to host a summertime bash. (It sleeps up to 12, so invite some friends.) If you get bored, there’s beach volleyball, kayak races and barn dances; you can also practice your marshmallow-roasting skills.
KINNIKINNICK FARM IN CALEDONIA, IL
Are you interested in learning more about Feather Down Farm tents? Of course you are. At this glamping spot in northern Illinois–about an hour and 45 minutes by car from Chicago–you’ll sleep in a fully stocked tent. We’re talking a cooler, kindling, a kitchen and beds swathed in European linens. On the itinerary: tons of relaxation, punctured by bicycle rides through town, gathering fresh eggs or even milking a goat. (You’re staying on a farm, after all.)
SMOKEY HOLLOW CAMPGROUND IN LODI, WI
Drive for about two and a half hours and you’ll hit Lodi. At this family-friendly campground, accommodations include deluxe cabins with covered porches and picnic tables. But why would you choose to sleep in anything other than a covered wagon, when one is available? This place also has tons of activities, ranging from DIY sundae bars to swimming to our fave: jumping on a giant pillow.