City Cast

Tips for Camping Near Chicago

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on October 5
Camping at Indiana Dunes

Camping at Indiana Dunes. (Steve Shook / Flickr)

After we talked about camping last week on the City Cast Chicago podcast, we learned sociologist and author Eve Ewing is a regular camper and had more tips to share with the class.

On Bathrooms

Camping skeptics, don’t fret: There ARE often bathrooms at national and state parks with running water, toilets that flush, and showers. Ewing said she brushes her teeth and does her regular skincare routine in these facilities.

TL;DR: You don’t have to go to the bathroom in the woods!

Illinois Beach State Park

Illinois Beach State Park. (Yinan Chen / Wikimedia Commons)

On Location

Most national and state parks — including many in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana — also have online reservation systems (which do cost). Ewing recommended camping at:

  • Indiana Dunes, 38 miles from the Loop. Ewing said it’s a good spot for beginners since you can get home quickly.
  • Illinois Beach State Park, 48 miles from the Loop. The beach’s proximity to the campsite and food to order are big pros, Ewing said.

On Supplies

Camping equipment can get pricey, but you can borrow supplies from the Chicago Park District and Chicago Tool Library.

On Other Prep

Check out Park District, Cook County Forest Preserves, or REI Chicago for classes and workshops to learn how to camp.

Hey Chicago

Want to know what's happening in Chicago? Sign up for our free newsletter, Hey Chicago. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.

The latest in Chicago