A Chicago to Detroit RV road trip is exactly what you need to enjoy some fresh air and take in a little scenic beauty along the shores of Lake Michigan and beyond. There are plenty of fascinating attractions around both Chicago and Detroit, as well as some fun places to stop in between the two cities. This trip is the ideal expedition for a getaway, and this route has some great sights to help heighten the experience.
Riverside National Park
Riverside Park is a scenic little area located in Hastings, Michigan. This small park is comprised of about 64 acres along the Grand River. It's a peaceful stop-over spot, where you can picnic, boat or get in a little fishing. The grounds include a picnic shelter, boat launch, and a fishing dock. You can also take a walk up the nearby Riverside Trail. Hastings is a nice little community to explore while you're there as well.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park
While you're in Michigan, you may want to check out Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, which features perched dunes overlooking Lake Michigan. This park includes 65 miles of shoreline, as well as lakes, streams, bogs, and forests. Enjoy exploring with opportunities for wildlife viewing, birdwatching or simply taking the time to enjoy nature at its best. There are plenty of hiking opportunities, but you can also visit one of the inland lakes and go canoeing. Be sure to check out the dune formations, glacial phenomena, and the 1871 lighthouse.
River Raisin National Battlefield Park
River Raisin National Battlefield Park is located in Monroe, Michigan, featuring a river that was named by the French-Canadian settlers who noticed the grapes that grow along the banks. This historical park commemorates some of the battles fought during the War of 1812, and it hosts the Heritage Trail comprised of 8 miles of paved bike-hike trails to traverse. Be sure to explore the visitors center, which features displays of British, American, and Native American soldiers, as well as a 17-minute presentation.
Indiana Dunes State Park
Indiana Dunes State Park consists of a spectacular 2,182 acres of sand. The park also includes 3 miles of beach along Lake Michigan, where you'll find a range of habitats and plant species. There are also a few dunes that tower 200 feet up from Lake Michigan. The park has a nature center and miles of hiking trails to explore. You can also reserve a picnic shelter, do some swimming or bring binoculars to check out the varieties of birds.
Kal Haven Trail State Park
The Kal Haven Trail State Park used to be a 33-mile railroad area; today, you can follow the trail through small towns and over bridges. This is a great park if you enjoy hiking and biking in the summer, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing in the winter or horseback riding. The trail is made of limestone and slag. Be sure to enjoy a little fishing and picnicking during your adventure as well.
Grand Meer State Park
Grand Meer State Park is located near Stevensville, Michigan, and with a coverage of 985 acres, there's plenty there for you to see and explore. The park has about a mile of shoreline that lends itself to gorgeous photography opportunities. There are spectacular sand dunes and deep blowouts, as well as three inland lakes in the park that are undeveloped, so you can enjoy birdwatching, looking at wildlife, and hiking around.
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
Before you leave Chicago, you may want to experience the Chicago Architecture River Cruise. This tour has been operating for over 25 years, and the trip itself lasts about an hour and a half aboard Chicago’s First Lady. The docents are volunteers who genuinely enjoy filling you in on the stories behind more than 50 buildings you see on the Chicago River. You'll learn a little about the architecture of Chicago and the history of this settlement that grew into a bustling city in less than 100 years.
Air Zoo Aerospace Science Museum
The Air Zoo Aerospace Science Museum is both a museum and an indoor amusement park located next to the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport. It's home to many rare and historical aircraft like the SR-71B Blackbird. This is a great place to discover, imagine, and be inspired. It also makes for a perfect resting point on your journey since it's in Portage, just about halfway from Chicago to Detroit. You can experience interactive exhibits and over 100 air and space artifacts, or enjoy some indoor amusement park rides for even more fun.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Another must-see stop on this trip is the Lincoln Park Zoo located in Chicago. Amid the urban environment, the zoo is a great place for kids to learn about wildlife and for everyone else to rediscover a sense of wonder. They take good care of the animals while supporting research and conservation, and they also have one of the largest zoo-based conservation programs in the country. The zoo is home to almost 200 animal species that are available for up-close encounters, as well as a wide variety of beautiful flowers, trees, and plant ecosystems.
Gary is located about 25 miles from Chicago on the shores of southern Lake Michigan. This town has some fascinating architecture that makes for great photography. You can also try your luck at the Majestic Star Casino, where they offer excellent dining and live shows. The Gibson Woods Nature Preserve has beautiful scenery for hiking or birdwatching, and the city has a host of different parks to explore.
If you need a dump station in this area, you can use Love's Travel Stop or one of the other travel centers. For camping options in Gary, there are a few in nearby cities, including Portage, which is along the trip.
Portage is the halfway point of your road trip from Chicago to Detroit, and it's located in a metropolitan area within Kalamazoo County. Be sure to visit the Air Zoo and go skating at the Ice Rink at Millennium Park. Kalamazoo has some great sports opportunities, so check out the schedules when you are in the area, as they have a baseball team and hockey team that are quite popular with locals. If you like to shop, they offer the Crossroads Mall. You can also enjoy exploring the wide variety of parks.
If you need an RV dump station near Portage, you can use the Flying J Travel Plaza in Burns Harbor. A nice option for camping would be the Woodland Village Mobile Home and RV Park as they have spots tucked under the trees in a beautiful area.
Battle Creek, Michigan
Battle Creek is known as being the birthplace of the cereal industry. You may want to spend time here because there is so much to see and do. This is the home of the Binder Park Zoo, where you can see a wide variety of animals. Check out the BC Cargo pop-up shops to get in some shopping and dining. There's a cereal history exhibit that allows you to learn more about what this town is famous for. You can also check out shows or gamble at FireKeepers Casino. If you enjoy plants, check out the Leila Arboretum.
If you need a dump station near Battle Creek, try going to Grand Haven State Park. It's free if you stay there and only $10 to use the dump station without a stay. If you decide you want to spend the night, there's a beautiful campground at Potawatomi Campground and Recreation Area near Battle Creek.
There's plenty to include in a road trip itinerary from Chicago to Detroit. You'll enjoy the points of interest and attractions in the urban areas, as well as the stunning scenery along the banks of Lake Michigan and parks along the way. While the trip can be completed in a few hours, it's more fun to spread it out. Taking the Chicago to Houston road trip in an RV will allow you to stop just about anywhere you wish without having to worry about reservations. If you don't have an RV of your own, consider visiting the RVshare rental pages for either Chicago or Detroit to locate the best rental for your situation.