11 kid-friendly campsites near Chicago


The camping season is off to a good start. Whether you prefer the rustic, low-key experience in the heart of the wilderness or a campground filled with family fun, there is a campsite compromise for all kinds of families.

Families can find both types of campgrounds within hours of Chicago. Here are some options within three hours of Chicago to get you started. Don’t forget to pack the s’mores!

For the pleasures of the crowd

Northwest Chicago KOA

The Kampgrounds of America are known to be particularly welcoming to families, and this one is no exception. As the closest KOA to Chicago 75 minutes away, this campground is packed with hay rides, ice cream, flashlight candy hunts, and movies. There is no shortage of activities with hiking trails, horseshoes, mini-golf, a swimming pool, and volleyball and basketball courts. For more wild fun, your cowboys and cowgirls can’t fail to spend time at The Far West town of Donley (temporarily closed in 2021) located next door.

Kankakee South KOA

This KOA campground offers many amenities like Chicago Northwest KOA and is about the same distance (one hour south) of Chicago. Kankakee River State Park is about five minutes away, which has miles of hiking, horseback riding and canoeing trails.

Jellystone Park Caledonia

Photo courtesy of Jellystone Park Caledonia

Address: 8425 Hwy 38, Caledonia, Wisconsin

Located just 120 kilometers from Chicago, Jellystone Park Caledonia is all about fun. Campers will be happy to learn that many of the activities offered are included. We’re talking about mini golf, laser tag, archery, jumping cushion, playgrounds, outdoor mini theater, zero-depth entry pool, aquatic playground, large slides and more! To verify Bear’s Paw Beach where, for an additional fee, campers can try Adventure Island, one of the nation’s largest inflatable water obstacle courses.

Green River Oaks Resort

The family park is all about the family. Extras are not extras here at the campground located 90 miles southwest of Chicago. You won’t find resort fees, craft fees, or any of the many activities they offer. They have pitches for tents, RV rentals and a cabin. Each weekend has a new theme with activities to keep families busy. Located along the Illinois Green River, campers can go kayaking, tubing or rafting. Campers can even try out corcles, round kayaks, on the river. Other amenities include heated swimming pools, a game room and unlicensed fishing in their private lake.

Holiday ribs

Located just outside the Dells on the Wisconsin River, Holiday Shores offers everything families love – a beach, playgrounds, entertainment on the river with boat rentals, fun activities like scavenger hunts. , inflatables and even fire truck rides, and much more. Are you looking for a water park? All guests receive complimentary passes to Chula Vista Water Park for a minimum stay of 2 nights. Looking for adult drinks? They have a bar for adults.

Coloma / St. Joseph KOA Holiday

Photo courtesy of KOA

Looking for a beach getaway? As the closest KOA to Lake Michigan, you’ll be minutes from several St. Joseph and South Haven area beaches. Paddlers will appreciate being centrally located at public access points along the Paw Paw River Water Trail, or visit beautiful headlights, spend time kayaking and paddle boarding or charter a fishing or an expedition or a sailboat cruise. If you prefer to stay at the campsite, there is a jumping pad, hot tub, heated pool, planned activities and more.

Elkhart / Middlebury Holidays KOA

Right in the heart of one of America’s largest Amish communities, you can visit the local towns of Shipshewana and Middlebury, where the clicking of the horse’s hooves will bring back a feeling of simple living. Check out the Shipshewana Flea Market, home to nearly 900 vendors, held Tuesdays and Wednesdays every week from May through October. Or, simply relax on the campground and enjoy a variety of on-site amenities and recreation including sand volleyball, badminton, mini golf, basketball, bike rental, paddleboarding, disc golf and even its own mining station.

For nature lovers

Illinois Beach State Park

As the only remaining beach ridge shoreline in the state, the biggest draw is the swimming beach, but you’ll find plenty of other ways to become one with nature at this 4,160-acre park, from from fishing to hiking to biking. This state park is located about 75 minutes from Chicago.

Kankakee River State Park

Located on the Kankakee River, this state park is known for its fishing. There are playgrounds, canoe rentals, and about 10.5 miles of hiking and biking trails, seven of which are paved, as well as a 2.5-mile nature trail. Note: Campgrounds are currently closed due to renovations and repairs.

Starved Rock State Park

Fish along the Illinois River or hike 13 miles of trails with navigable canyons in Starved Rock State Park, about an hour from Chicago. Near the state park there are marinas, horse riding centers, and pedal boat trips. How about swimming in the lake or kayaking? To verify. Trek? To verify. (Also available with different difficulty levels.)

Devil’s Lake State Park

Photo courtesy of Travel Wisconsin

You may need to book well in advance to have a chance to stay at this very popular place. Play on both beaches or explore the hiking trails. Cruise the water with one of the rentals on offer or take a guided kayak excursion.

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Sally J. Minick

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