In two weeks Park Chasers will be hopping a plane heading towards the Windy City of Chicago. While doing some research in the area, we compiled this list of national parks near Chicago. Whether you’re a Chicago native looking for an afternoon outing with the kids, or like us and vacationing in the city, we hope it helps you plan a fun outing and check off some parks on your #parkchasing list.
How many national parks are located near Chicago? There are 6 great places to visit within 3 hours of Chicago, including 1 national park, 1 national monument, and 2 national historic sites. There are also 2 affiliated sites, including a national scenic trail. Check out the map at the bottom of this post for all the national parks near Chicago:
National Parks In Chicago
There is one unit of the National Park Service that’s located within the Chicago city limits: Pullman National Monument
Pullman National Monument
Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/pull/index.htm
11141 S. Cottage Grove
Chicago, IL 60628
Located on the city’s southside, Pullman National Monument was designated by President Obama on February 19, 2015. The site preserves the Pullman Historic District, one of the first model planned urban developments in the United States. In the late 1800’s it was home to the Pullman Company, it’s railcar factories and homes for thousands of Pullman employees. Today, visitors to the site can wander through the neighborhood’s historic homes, see artifacts and memorabilia from the Pullman era, and attend tours of the Pullman factory complex.
National Parks Within 1 Hour of Chicago
Just outside the city of Chicago, you’ll find two opportunities for #parkchasing, one of the 60 official national parks and an affiliated historical site.
Indiana Dunes National Park
Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/indu/index.htm
1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, IN 46304
Just across the Illinois-Indiana border about 1-hour drive from downtown Chicago, you’ll find Indiana Dunes National Park. The park protects roughly 15 miles of lakeshore along the southern end of Lake Michigan. Visitors here enjoy hiking, bird watching, camping and fishing. If you’re brave enough, you might even try dipping a toe into the chilly waters of Lake Michigan along one of the park’s many public beaches.
Park Chaser Posts:
I & M Canal National Heritage Area
Park Website: https://iandmcanal.org
Park Address: See map for locations
With sites located in and around the outskirts of Chicago, the I & M Canal National Heritage Area protects the historical area along the towpath of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. From 1848 to 1900 the I & M Canal connected Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The National Heritage Area now has partner sites across many of the communities and towns along the canal route. Popular activities include tours of the museums and historic homes and viewing wildlife in some of the parks and nature preserves in the area.
National Parks Within 3 Hours of Chicago
If you’re looking to drive a bit farther out of the city, within 3 hours drive you’ll find more opportunities for national parks near Chicago.
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/liho/index.htm
413 S. 8th Street
Springfield, IL 62701
In the heart of Illinois’ capital city of Springfield is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. The historic home and surrounding neighborhood blocks are where Abraham Lincoln lived from 1844 to 1861, before becoming the 16th President of the United States. Today, visitors can tour the Lincoln home and walk through the surrounding area. During the summer months, the park hosts living history exhibits where visitors can meet reenacted historical figures from when President Lincoln lived in Springfield.
Herbert Hoover National Historic Site
Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/heho/index.htm
P.O. Box 607
West Branch, IA 52358
Just over 3 hours drive from Chicago in the town of West Branch, Iowa is the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site. Visitors can travel on I-88 outside of Chicago across the state to where Herbert Hoover grew up and where his Presidential Library now stands. The site is particularly nice to visit in the spring, when the area’s flowers are just beginning to bloom.
Ice Age National Scenic Trail
Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/iatr/index.htm
700 Rayovac Drive
Madison, WI 53711
Located about 2 1/2 hours drive north from Chicago across the boarder into neighboring Wisconsin you’ll find the nearest visitor’s center and headquarters for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The 1,200 mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail was established in 1980 and traces the edge of the large sheet of ice that was once thought to cover much of North America. While only an affiliated site of the National Park Service, the trail offers some of the region’s best hiking opportunities.