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Making Chicago an urban RV adventure

One of the things I love most about RVing is that it’s not limited to camping alone. One week might be spent camping and hiking in the Rocky Mountains while the next may be filled with wine tasting and tours in Napa Valley. Didn’t think RVing in the big cities was possible? Think again.

We like to plan just as many urban adventures in our RV as we do nature-oriented ones. However, not all big cities seem RV-friendly, which makes planning tricky. With a little digging and outside-the-box thinking, we discovered one of our best urban RV adventures yet–Chicago. It was one of those cities that at first glance didn’t seem RV-friendly, but it was high on our list of places to explore. We discovered that you can park in the same lot as the tour buses in downtown Chicago, just a few miles from Grant Park. With miles of bike trails, big events like Lollapalooza and world-class museums…the adventures are endless!

Where to park it

Chicago’s closest campground is an hour away from the city. However, if you are willing to dry camp, McCormick Place® allows overnight parking for RVs and the location can’t be beat. The 31st Street lot (also known as “Lot B”) is on the south end of the Convention Center, a whopping 3 miles from Grant Park. This lot is also where the security office is located and it is staffed 24/7.

Transportation 

Chicago is a big city with big-city traffic. With the RV parked at McCormick Place, public transportation is abundant with several Divvy bike locations and Metra rail stops within walking distance. We found the Divvy city bikes and the Lakefront Trail to be our favorite way to get around. It’s relaxing to pedal along the lake and see all the people out enjoying the ocean-like sandy beaches.

Chicago Must-Dos

  • Lincoln Park Zoo – It’s one of the country’s oldest zoos, dating back to 1868, loaded with character and totally free! There’s even an acclaimed restaurant on the south end of the park.
  • Millennium Park – This relatively new park has quickly become a Chicago icon with its impressive collection of public art. Take a stroll through the Cloud Gate (aka “The Bean”), Lurie Garden and check out the very modern Jay Pritzker Pavilion.
  • Art Institute – If you love art, the massive collection at the Art Institute of Chicago won’t disappoint. We especially love the ying-and-yang effect of starting at the historic entrance and exiting through the new modern wing.
  • Architecture Cruise – Navy Pier is a family-friendly hot spot with a typical pier vibe, but it’s also where most of the local cruises depart. There are all sorts of sunset and speedboat tours, but what is truly unique to Chicago is the Architecture Cruise along the river. Chicago is renowned for its architecture and there is no better view than the one from the river.
  • Lollapalooza – It’s one of the biggest music festivals in the USA with some of the biggest names in music headlining each year. While everyone else is scrambling for hotel accommodations and taxis, you’ll be there with your home on wheels parked a mere three miles away. Lolla by RV is hard to beat!

If you’re planning a road trip and looking for an urban adventure, the Windy City may be your next destination.