5 Easy Chicago Road Trips

5 Easy Chicago Road Trips

Your utilitarian wagon or compact SUV comes in handy when you go overboard on paper towels at Costco, but it doesn’t exactly inspire you to get on the road .

A sleek, snappy little Audi A4, on the other hand? Now that’s the kind of car you’d drive on a weekend getaway.

Take one for a spin with Silvercar, a new-to-Chicago app that makes it fast and painless to rent from its fleet of fully loaded Audis for $59 a day. Just open the app, reserve your car and, when you’re ready to pick it up, unlock it from your phone. (No lines, no sales reps, no being handed the keys to a boring sedan.)

So now that the silver steed is yours, where should you go? Start with these five close-to-Chicago road trips that get our engines revving.

Galena, Illinois

Drive 170 miles west to find one of the Midwest’s most charming small towns–think an old-timey main drag, cobblestone streets and Mississippi River views from atop high bluffs.

Starved Rock State Park, Utica, Illinois

It’s 90 miles southwest to this natural wonder full of tree-lined rural roads and waterfalls, with hiking trails, boating and wildlife-watching galore.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

It?s Chicago?s version of Lake Como, minus the Clooneys. Go 80 miles to the north and west for resort-style shopping and eating, and hit the lake?s shore path to walk through the backyards of its grandest summer homes.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

A five-hour drive will get you from Chicago to one of the most beautiful places in America. Avoid the interstate and use your GPS app to take side roads that hug the shore for the best small towns and scenery.

The Loop to Lake Bluff

Only have a day? Head north from downtown on Lake Shore Drive and when it ends, take Sheridan Road up to the very tip of the North Shore, ogling mansions, parks, beaches, temples, lighthouses and leafy campuses all the way–about an hour and 20 minutes if traffic’s light. You’ll be back home in time for dinner.