Image: Starved Rock State Park, rei.comLooking to enjoy the great outdoors this spring? Camping offers a weekend mostly free of COVID complications, not to mention a breathtaking escape from reality even in normal times. 2020 saw a surge in camping interest from Chicagoans and you can expect much of the same in 2021, so be sure to plan ahead before your preferred site books up. Here, we’ve compiled some of the fan favorites within just a couple hours of Chicago to get your search started. Indiana Dunes State ParkDriving distance from Chicago: <1 hourChicagoans are no strangers to the Indiana Dunes, which has been welcoming hordes of visitors long before it gained national recognition in recent years. What’s not to like about easy access less than an hour from Chicago, sandy dunes, and a picturesque lakefront? You can even take the train there on the South Shore Line, which runs from Millenium Park. In terms of camping, the official park campground is less than a mile from the beach and quite popular, so make sure to plan well ahead. Otherwise a smaller campground called Dunewood is also available just south of the park. Van Buren State ParkDriving distance from Chicago: 2 hoursCamping or not, the charming town of South Haven, Michigan is worth a visit. But why not pitch a tent at the well-equipped Van Buren just a few miles out? The campgrounds are also just a few blocks’ distance from the beach. You’ll find dunes here too. All campsites have fire pits and are near restroom facilities. For the hikers among us, a 2.5 mile spur trail connects the park to a main 14 mile trail that connects the towns of Hartford and South Haven via a former rail line, sneaking through fields, sand, trees, and all kinds of wildlife. Starved Rock State ParkDriving distance from Chicago: 2 hoursAnother crowd favorite for those from the Chicago area, Starved Rock is commonly shown in photos by its beautiful waterfalls. But with over 13 miles of hiking trails plus 18 canyons formed by melted glaciers, the topography of the place is enticing in a way few others in Illinois are. 133 campsites are available year-round, but this park attracts crowds from near and far so make sure to book ahead here too. Campsites include electricity and grills, and restrooms with shower facilities are available on site. Kettle Moraine State ForestDriving distance from Chicago: 2 hoursWisconsin campsites are also quite popular with Chicagoans. Some offer more amenities or more interesting terrain, but many also allow alcohol, while most Illinois parks do not. For Kettle Moraine, make sure you know if you’re booked at the Southern Unit or Northern Unit, as they’re actually not in the same place at all. A handful of campsites are available for booking of various types. More experienced campers can opt for the backpack shelters, such as the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. This 31 mile trail offers numerous shelters along the way, and none of them can be accessed by vehicle. There is even a horse riders’ campground along the 33 mile Bridle Trail. Illinois Beach State ParkDriving distance from Chicago: 1 hourIf you’re looking for that “getaway without getting away” campsite, Illinois Beach might be the place, especially for northern suburbanites. Its location in Zion makes it an extremely quick drive. The 244 campsites can fill up on summer weekends, so be aware that this may not be the most exclusive location. The main draw, of course, is the six and a half miles of Lake Michigan shoreline that are easily accessible from the campground. Fishing is also allowed. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources reports that this is the last remaining beach ridge shoreline remaining in the state, and over 650 species of plants can be found in the dunes area alone.
Following their exceptional work in the past 12 months, the club’s official charity were joined by five other EFL regional winners in the capital to celebrate the inspirational delivery in their respective communities. City will now be put forward alongside Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough, Charlton Athletic, Portsmouth and Derby County for the 2018 Checkatrade Community Club of the Year Award, which will be announced at the EFL Awards on Sunday, April 15th. The Community Trust impressed the judges with their Youth Council, a new group of young people that deliver practical programmes to create positive social change in their local communities. The group has so far been involved in the Bristol clean up, hosted a girls football event, developed and delivered an anti-poverty free football camp, held a free disability holiday camp, a programme to help combat anti-social behaviour, developed a Mumball session and a weekly youth disability workshop.