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Why Camping in Chicago is an AWESOME Idea

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

When you think of RV travel and camping, Chicago may not be the first destination that comes to mind. What comes to mind may be a green forest you can get lost in or snowcapped mountains in the distance that take your breath away.

The amazing thing about RVing, is it can take you anywhere! The truth is sometimes the scenery is the backdrops I mentioned and sometimes…well it can be a Walmart parking lot. Which makes putting groceries away super handy, but doesn’t offer the most majestic of views. 

Life on the road can take you to some amazing places. What we have discovered, is that our RV is the vessel and the destinations are endless. We enjoy camping in nature, but we also enjoy seeing all the country has to offer. While camping in a city may not be for everyone, having this as an option is a time saver.

When searching for camping locations in Chicago, the search was coming up empty. There were not a lot of camping options within an hour of the city and we almost gave up until we discovered the perfect solution.

McCormick Place in the heart of Chicago is the largest convention center in the United States. They have a large parking lot for tour buses at the McCormick Place Truck Marshaling Yard. Thankfully, this is an available option and you can pay a fee to boondock without hookups (water, electric, and sewer) in this spacious parking lot.

The cost was $35 a night. However, being this close to downtown we were able to ride our bikes to the amazing things Chicago has to offer. Not to mention, it offered 24‐hour staff and 24‐hour security cameras. We felt safe and had a great location for our home on wheels. Here are a few of our favorite reasons why you should try camping in Chicago.

The Museums

The Field Museum features the world’s largest and most preserved T-REX named SUE among an abundance of cultural and wildlife education.

Shedd Aquarium dates back to the early 1930’s and is home to over 32,000 underwater marine creatures. The beluga whales are an amazing site to see and worth the stop. These beautiful creatures were the highlight of our aquarium trip.

The Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum in the country and a spectacular stop. This museum will not disappoint. Make sure to leave plenty of time. We spent 4 hours here and barley skimmed the surface. Incredible to say the least.

Adler Planetarium is America’s first planetarium opened by a Chicago in 1930 making it a Historical National Landmark. Home to 3 full size theaters, extensive space and science exhibitions, and so much more, you can’t help but have a good time.  

The Art Institute Of Chicago,  founded in 1879 is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. With over 300,000 works of art, this museum brings in approximately 1.5 million guests annually. 

Chicago has some of the best museums in the country. If you are like us and you can not decided between these amazing choices, check out the Chicago City Pass. We purchased these bad boys and got 5 attractions for a discounted price. All of these museums listed above are part of the list of choices. This is a great way to see these spectacular city highlights and bypass the lines! Also, make sure to check for free and discounted admission offered on special days offered to save on cost. 

The Views

If I haven’t stressed enough how beautiful the city of Chicago is, then let me reenforce that point. Positioned along Lake Michigan, the blue water and stunning architecture creates a beautiful backdrop among the Windy City. Finding a great view in Chicago is not hard, but let me start you off with a few of our favorites.

We had been recommend by many to do the Architecture Tour of the city. We took a tour with Shoreline Sightseeing and this boat ride through the city was the highlight of our trip. As you float down the Chicago River, you are surrounded by world-renowned architecture, skyscrapers, and incredible engineering, that makes this a must-see attraction. This scenery and guided tour created the best view of the city. If y0u take a tour on Wednesday or Saturday night, you can catch the fireworks from Navy Pier creating an extra special display.

Not only can you catch the views from the water, but you can also catch some great views from above. Step outside the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at Skydeck Chicago. At 1,353 feet in the air, these glass box ledges extend out 4.3 feet from the Skydeck. On the 103rd floor of Willis Tower, you will be offered breathtaking views spanning up to four states. It is a thrilling experience with dramatic city views.

If breathtaking 360 degrees views of the city skyline and Lake Michigan are your thing, then check out 360 Chicago. This observation deck 1000 feet in the air is home of TILT (Chicago’s highest thrill ride).  TILT is an enclosed moving platform that literally tilts you out over Michigan Avenue from the 94th Floor. Chicago is serious about it’s views of the city.

The Outdoors

Chicago in the summer means an unending list of activities. Located in the city are plenty of parks and beaches that are fun for the whole family. Check out the famous Cloud Gate aka “The Bean” in Millennium Park to see a $23 million dollar sculpture. Yes, you read that right. Inspired by liquid mercury, this sculpture creates a seamless reflection of the city’s skyline.

Lincoln Park has a 35 acre free zoo that is a wonderful stop. Founded in 1868, this zoo is among the oldest in North America. It is also one of a few free admission zoos in the United States. 


The food in Chicago could be a post of it’s own. Chicago is home to some of the best cuisine in the country. When you visit Chicago you can’t leave the city without a Chicago Pizza and Hotdog! When it comes to pizza you will usually get recommendations between Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria. Due to logistics, we chose Giordano’s and it was AMAZING! Honestly I don’t think you could go wrong between the two, but my mouth is watering writing this article as I reminisce on this cheesy masterpiece. When it comes to hotdogs hands down we got more recommendations for Portillo’s Hot Dogs. We had to settle for a vender outside of the Field Museum, but our Chicago Style Hotdog was still amazing.

When you think of Chicago, popcorn may not come to mind, but after you visit a Garret’s Popcorn Shop it will absolutely be what “pops” into your mind. I had to do it. Bear with me and my “corny” jokes. Last one I promise 😉

The Garret Mix is iconic Chicago and a genius mix of CheeseCorn and CarmelCrisp popcorn. I know that may not sound appealing, but it was delicious. Let’s just say it did’t even make it down the street. There are so many other great food choices in the area you are in for a treat….literally.

As you can tell, we had a great time exploring Chicago. There is so much to see and do and you can even park your RV in the city allowing for a great location. If you missed it and want to see videos of our travels in Chicago, check them out here.

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