The Run Down
For this guide we’re off to Illinois State Beach Park where we’ll be camping right off the coast of Lake Michigan. Here are the highlights in this guide.
1. The Campsite
About 1.5 hours north of Chicago is Illinois State Beach Park, which is home to a sprawling camp ground with over 240 campsites. In the summer, if you’re looking to do some weekend camping, then you need to get there early on a Friday to snag a spot. You can normally reserve a spot ahead of time here, otherwise it’s first come, first served.
What’s great about these camp grounds is that there are a stretch of campsites that run right up along the coast of the lake. We were fortunate to get one of those spots, which has a trail that leads directly to the lake.
If you want to stay at the exact spot as featured in this guide, then reserve spot 315.
For any first-time campers or folks that require some of life’s modern amenities, each campsite has an electrical hookup, and the campground is equipped with bathrooms and showers. The showers are no joke either. They are clean and the water is hot. Kudos to the staff that maintains these.
2. Camp Food and Fire
Any good camping trip requires food cooked over a massive fire. We’re in luck as each campsite has its own fire pits equipped with a metal grill. If you need any last minute supplies, you’re still close to town — there is a Piggly Wiggly grocery store a few minutes away. There’s also firewood and ice available to purchase on the campground.
We’d suggest food that’s already cooked through and just needs to be heated up. To turn it up a notch, roast some corn on the cob directly on the grill.
3. Illinois Beach Nature Reserve
What’s great about this campground is that not only is it close to the lake, but it’s also adjacent to the nation’s first nature preserve. Just a five minute drive from the campgrounds gets you to the trail head. A five mile trail across sand dunes, forests, and tall grass and wild flowers awaits you. Along the sand dunes are access points to less-trafficked beaches where you can enjoy some peace and quiet.