The drive from Omaha to Chicago is a terrific road trip to put on your calendar. The drive will only take about a day if you have any brief stops, but it's easy to stretch it out for a week or so by visiting some of the nearby attractions along the way. The drive runs almost entirely along Interstate 80, with a few interesting cities and towns that lie directly on your route. By the time you get to your destination in Chicago, you can take advantage of everything a large urban city can offer in the way of entertainment and recreation. You can also conveniently add some side trips to your road trip itinerary from Omaha to Chicago.
You can bookend your Omaha to Chicago road trip with a visit to a great national park. Prior to leaving Omaha, you can learn all about Herbert Hoover, our 31st president. Visiting Indiana Sand Dunes National Park after you arrive in Chicago will bring a nice touch of closure to your trip.
Herbert Hoover Historical Park
Herbert Hoover Historical Park is the birthplace of the 31st president of the U.S., Herbert Hoover. You can learn much about President Hoover by exploring the various historic buildings and visiting the Presidential Library and Museum and the gravesite. Aside from touring the historic nature of the site, you can take the opportunity to hike along the 2 miles of trails that wind through the prairie grass along Hoover Creek. In the winter, you can snowshoe and ski cross-country on the trails.
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park
Indiana Sand Dunes National Park lies along 15 miles of the southern shores of Lake Michigan between Gary, Indiana, and Michigan City. This 22,000-acre park includes towering dunes that reach 200 feet in height, marshes, bogs, beaches, rivers, woods and prairies. You can partake in any and all types of boating activities on Lake Michigan or hike along one of the more than 50 trails inside the park. There are rare species of birds to view, and you'll get the chance to see many types of wildlife throughout the park. There are also several National Natural Landmarks as well as one National Historic Landmark in the park.
Part of the fun of taking an Omaha to Chicago RV road trip is to visit a state park as you travel. You'll be driving through the states of Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois on your trip, and most state parks are very RV-friendly.
Platte River State Park
Platte River State Park is located just west of Omaha. This charming park has a mix of both vintage cabins and new glamping cabins. Inside the park, you'll find fun family attractions like a waterfall, a spray park, multi-use trails and two observation towers that visitors can climb in order to look down on the Platte River. Kids ages 6 and older can ride horses on a short equestrian trail, and the spray park is a great way to have some inexpensive fun.
Rock Creek State Park
Rock Creek State Park is a popular park on Rock Creek Lake, near the city of Kellogg, Iowa. This 1,697-acre park features numerous boat launches and docks on the water and multiple trails for hiking and horseback riding. There's a playground for the kids, and everyone can enjoy swimming in the lake. You can also fish for species like bass, bluegill, crappie, saugeye and bullhead, and ice fishing is always a favorite activity. Other winter activities include snow skiing and snowshoeing. There's even a convenient concession store where you can rent boats and boating equipment and buy camping supplies and snacks.
Matthiessen State Park
You'll encounter a variety of natural habitats to explore at Matthiessen State Park in Oglesby, Illinois. There are canyons, prairies, streams and woods throughout the park as well as interesting rock formations. Everyone will have a blast splashing and walking through the streams and along the rocks that lie along the trails (make sure you stay on the designated paths). A lot of the walking involves going up stairs, so be sure you're in good shape for these uphill climbs.
This area of the Midwest is known for having a number of things to do and see. However, try to make it a point to include some of these sites on your Omaha to Chicago road trip itinerary.
Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
This Omaha zoo includes the largest indoor desert and indoor rainforest in North America. During your time at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, which encompasses 130 acres, you can view thousands of animals from around the world. The zoo's outdoor and indoor exhibits are replicas of the animals' natural habitats, and the indoor exhibits cover more than 7 acres of total space.
Crystal Lake Cave
Located a little over an hour north of Davenport, Crystal Lake Cave is a wonderful excursion through a pristine cave system. Crystal Lake Cave has stalagmites, helictites, and even anthodites, which are clusters of radiating, needle-like crystals that resemble feathers and are rarer. Outside of the cave, kids can mine for gems, and everyone can enjoy eating a meal at the picnic pavilion.
Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park is a beautiful space that has plenty of canyons to hike along and waterfalls to see. Located on the Illinois River a few miles southwest of Chicago, this state park is a worthy place to visit and spend a day or two hiking on one of the many trails. Visitors can fish and boat on the Illinois River, and there are also equestrian trails for horseback riding.
Your Omaha to Chicago road trip may be a relatively short one, but it lends the opportunity to visit some great cities you'll be passing through.
You should definitely stop and take several hours to visit the city of Davenport, Iowa. Located next to the Mississippi River, Davenport is known for its large number of local parks, with over 50 parks all told. There are also museums, river cruises, markets and more for everyone to enjoy. One fun place you shouldn't miss is the Chocolate Manor, which is a store that's dedicated to all things made of chocolate. Every product is made on the premises. Wildcat Den State Park is located near Davenport and offers great hiking opportunities to neat areas like "Fat Man's Squeeze," "Steamboat Rock" and "Devil's Punch Bowl." The unique bluffs and rock formations provide spectacular views for visitors, and the Pine Creek Grist Mill offers a great chance to see a 19th-century grist mill.
Iowa City is located near the Iowa River and is a great place to stop and take a break on your road trip from Omaha to Chicago. Formerly the capital of Iowa, Iowa City is home to a museum of local history, and the University of Iowa Museum of Natural History has a fine collection of prehistoric stone tools and various examples of taxidermy. There are plenty of parks and dining spots, and you'll be able to find anything you need for your travels. You can visit Sleepy Hollow RV Park & Campground for a good time in the outdoors, and your family is sure to enjoy all the outside play activities.
Des Moines is the capital city of Iowa and has many interesting historical buildings. The State Capitol building is a much-visited landmark and features a gold dome at its top. There are also many museums, parks and markets. The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a beautiful place to stroll around or take a seat and rest. Walnut Creek State Park is located in Des Moines and offers picturesque trails to hike along and a beautiful lodge made of limestone and rough-cut lumber. The campground has a dump station for your convenience.
Your road trip from Omaha to Chicago is comprised of an easy day's drive, yet it's an expedition that affords plenty of opportunities for all the fun you can imagine. This is especially true if you decide to travel in style and comfort with an RV from RVshare. Whether you like history, nature, or recreation, you're sure to be able to indulge your vacation preferences on this adventure on the road. For the way back, see Chicago to Omaha.