5 family-friendly resorts worth the drive from Chicago

Summer means family vacation, but it’s not always easy to get away. Often money and time are both in short supply and it can be hard to jet off to a far-off destination. The good news is that there are several resorts not far from Chicago that feel like a world away, but you can reach with a quick road trip! 

Note: Travel times are approximate and according to Google Maps. Times can vary based on location in and around Chicago and traffic issues. Our fingers are crossed that your journeys this summer are quick and easy.

Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa in Galena, Ill.

Distance from Chicago: 3 hours

Eagle Ridge is far enough to feel like you’ve really traveled somewhere, and it offers something for everyone. Golfers will love the three acclaimed courses, and a family golf program makes it easy for little ones to hit the links. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike and explore the 26 miles of trails. (Ask for a trail guide at the front desk.) History buffs can feel like they’re transported back in time when they walk Main Street or tour President U.S. Grant’s home. Kids love the indoor/outdoor pool. Spa aficionados can relax at Stonedrift Spa. Thunderbay Falls is a gorgeous waterfall. The Great Galena Balloon Race June 15-17 is a great option for those who have dreamed of attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca, Ill.

Distance from Chicago: 40 minutes

You don’t have to go far to have fun. With live music from the “Sounds of Summer” outdoor concert series, cosmic bowling, bocce ball and bags, Eaglewood offers activities that get you out of your ordinary routine and fully experience fun summer vibes while being fun for all ages. There is a golf course as well as a spa with seasonal offerings that feature the warm weather scents of neroli blossom and raw honey. The resort embraces the Midwest, with Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Style design throughout and a focus on nature.

Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Ill.

Distance from Chicago: 1 hour

This escape involves not making the bed in the morning, spending a sunny afternoon at a family-friendly pool party with games and music by a deejay, and making S’mores by the fire on the patio under the stars. The Bourbon Street section of the resort captures the spirit of New Orleans – don’t miss ice cream at the Bourbon Street Creamery, and more adult fun in the evening. The resort also has Zanies Comedy Club, an escape room, golf course and spa.

The Abbey Resort in Fontana, Wis.

Distance from Chicago: 2 hours

You cross state lines into Wisconsin, and as you near the shores of Lake Geneva where the Abbey Resort is located, it feels like more like the Hamptons. It’s easy to understand why corporate titans from Chicago made this area their playground more than a century ago. It’s not just all about the past here, though. There’s a Virtual Entertainment Center that features gaming and movies in an immersive experience. The movie theater features a 90-inch screen and the resort offers early shows appropriate for all ages and late shows for older kids and adults. The Avani Spa onsite is a retreat that embraces its waterside location and offers its own water options, including a private pool and whirlpool.

Marina Grand Resort in New Buffalo, Mich.

Distance from Chicago: 1 hour, 15 minutes

The view of Lake Michigan from New Buffalo makes it easy to understand why the Great Lakes are sometimes called “inland seas.” Covering a surface area of more than 22,300 square miles, it’s easy to think you’re at the sea, and the Marina Grand Resort plays up the effect even more with a nautical theme and great views of the boats docked in the Oselka Marina. The game room is fun if the weather doesn’t cooperate, and there are both indoor and outdoor pools. You can walk to the beach and take advantage of the Ben & Jerry’s Hotline, which delivers your favorite flavors to your room.


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