Camping is a fun family activity, the fresh air, the outdoor adventures in nature with animals and wildlife around you.
Few people think of the Chicago area and connect it with wildlife and rustic activities like camping and hiking.
For many locals who live in or around Chicago, camping and spending the night under the stars is a great way to shake off the dust from a long work week.
Finding a campground outside of Chicago is easy, but it depends on what you are looking for in amenities. There is something for everyone, from cozy RV sites to airy tent sites and more rustic walk-in tent sites.
What are the best campgrounds outside of Chicago?
There are a ton of great campsites within 100 miles (an easy day’s drive) of Chicago. Four of the best options are:
- Bullfrog Lake Campground in Willow Springs, Illinois
- Michigan City Campground in Michigan City, Indiana
- Spaulding Lake Campground in Niles, Michigan
- Yogi Bears Jellystone Camp Resort in Portage, Indiana
Small privately-owned campgrounds offer more amenities than state parks, but these amenities are geared more towards fun group activities or events that gather campers together for adventure.
These can include a game room with arcade games, a pool table, darts, and a media room with TV, videos, and treats.
There might be a mini water park, live music on weekends, and other activities for campers to do when the sun sets and exploring is over.
Bullfrog Lake Campground – Willow Springs, Illinois
This campground offers camping any time of year.
There is hiking, kayaking, fishing, and biking to connect with nature and stay fit while having fun.
For those who enjoy more peaceful adventures, bird and wildlife watching is a great way to pass the time while camping here.
In winter, there is cross country skiing and ice fishing.
For the rest of the year, numerous activities can be enjoyed with your fur baby should you wish to bring fido.
A camp store and handicapped-accessible areas make this spot great for everyone.
The campground offers RV and tent camping and a small and large cabin, and the possibility to rent the whole campground.
A few of the five campsites have nice views of the lake and surrounding areas.
Michigan City Campground – Michigan City, Indiana
This privately owned campground establishment is a perfect spot for a family weekend getaway
Situated on forty acres of land, convenient to Lake Michigan, and many attractions.
It is easily accessible to or from Chicago by the South Shore Commuter Train.
This campground is open from April 1st to October 31st.
There are monthly sites that can also be used with a winter water hookup during the winter.
This campground is close to the zoo, wineries, restaurants, shopping, and other out-of-park activities for those who wish to come and go in the area.
There are four different types of sites available and cabin rentals for the camper that wants to have a bit more comfort and convenience.
There are premium pull-through sites for larger RVs with beautiful sunny views.
There are full hook-up sites for fifth wheels campers, pop-up campers, and any style imaginable.
These sites are either shaded or open with beautiful views.
Water and electric sites are close to the pool, campground, and other amenities and good for tents, hybrids, and smaller trailers, offering both open-air views and shaded sites.
There is tent camping in various spots, but campers who want a rustic, primitive feel have a location known as tent hill, which offers gorgeous views of the campground and is suited to larger groups of campers.
Some of the amenities for this private campground include a fishing hole, swimming pool, playground, camp store, and Wi-Fi.
Numerous other outside amenities and activities are available by quick drive in your car.
Spaulding Lake Campground – Niles, Michigan
This seasonal family-owned campground is conveniently located to many attractions in this area.
They offer 120 full hook-up sites for guests and amenities like basketball, fishing, a swimming pond, and a playground.
RV sites are located in shady, peaceful, or open-air spots that offer lovely views.
All campsites have water, electricity, and sewer for guests’ convenience.
The spring-fed lakes offer various fish, including bass and catfish.
Located nearby are the towering dunes of Lake Michigan and Detroit for a bit of city with your excursion.
This campground location offers Daily, Weekly, and Monthly reservations and day passes for visitors that might come to see guests that are camping in the park.
Yogi Bears Jellystone Camp Resort – Portage, Indiana
Yogi Bears Jellystone Campgrounds have been around for a very long time.
The focus of these resort-style privately-owned campgrounds is fun, and each offers its unique amenities and activities for guests of all ages to enjoy.
There is a lot to do when you stay at this campground, from themed weekend events that celebrate current or upcoming holidays to paddleboarding and kayaking.
If you want to hit some tennis balls, they have it, enjoy a bit of basketball or volleyball they have that too.
Kids will enjoy the camp store and water slides typically found at these campground locations.
The staff working these facilities are friendly and helpful and focus their energy on family fun and togetherness, which makes a family camping vacation so special.
At this campground, they not only know how to have fun, but they also know how to call it a night when you need some sleep.
Guests who visit this campground will enjoy the RV and tent camping sites that offer the usual amenities you would expect, like a fire ring, picnic table, etc.
They offer that special something for every camper regardless of how they choose to sleep with beautiful and unique site locations and views.
For the visitor who wants to spend a weekend or longer adventure at this campground but has never tried an RV, you can do that by renting an on-site RV and taking up residence during your stay.
For more special camping like treehouses, glamping, cabins, and yurts, they have those too.
Each will have its appealing atmosphere, décor, and energy.
Still, all will also have their unique homey comforts like a covered porch, air conditioning, or kitchenette based on the accommodation style you choose and its design.
As you can see, Yogi Bear parks take camping vacations to a whole new level.
No matter where you are or want to be, they have something for you.
How do I choose the right campground?
Choosing the right campground for your next camping excursion doesn’t have to be difficult if you choose one based on your personal preferences.
As with anything travel-related, some people like more comfort than others, some people like the closeness of a bathroom, or wouldn’t dream of sleeping in a tent and must have an RV.
Wherever your comfort zone is, knowing that is the best place to start when choosing the right campground. After that, you should use your other travel plans to determine where you want to stay to select the right campground for you.
For instance, you will not be spending much time in the campground itself because you will be seeing the sites outside the campground.
This might make it better for you to choose a campsite with fewer amenities and activities which can save you money for those other adventures.
Perhaps you love sleeping by a lake; then you will want to choose a campground that has a lake and hookups or sites on the lake.
It’s all about personal preference and making your camping experience the best.
Most importantly, and this is true no matter where you are or what you are doing while camping, cleanliness, safety, and respect are the most important.
It can be hard to determine if a campground is clean and safe, but this is where modern technology and computers come in handy.
By using the internet and researching numerous reviews and information, you can discover if a campground is the right setting for you.
If the established campground has been around for a long time and has great reviews, it will likely be a good choice.
Nothing beats tent camping or staying at a less than comfortable location.
Research is very important when planning if you are visiting a new location or state.
The listed campground outside Chicago offers cleanliness, safety, and various levels of creature comforts and activities for guests to enjoy during their stay.
Camping is a favorite pastime with families and travelers who love spending time with nature and being outdoors.
With a few miles to travel outside Chicago, city dwellers can easily enjoy some time out in nature.
Just because you’re leaving the city behind it doesn’t mean it has to be boring with nothing to do but sit and stare at the trees and cook marshmallows.
Thanks to privately owned campgrounds, the fun continues long after you’ve fished and hiked the afternoon away!