RV Rental Chicago, IL
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Chicago, Illinois RV Rentals
Perfectly situated on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan, Chicago is renowned not only for its bold architecture and stunning skyline but also for its welcoming melting pot of diverse cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities. It’s a passionate city that is home to some of the most extensive and impressive museums, concert halls, universities, and outdoor recreation areas.
Chicago is the perfect place to plan your next RV road trip. The city and the surrounding suburbs are a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and visitors who want to see and do all that it has to offer. RV rentals in Chicago are plentiful, with anything from a tiny minimalistic tow-behind trailer to a large, luxury motorhome that is fully decked out with top-of-the-line amenities. You’ll also have no trouble finding a picturesque and well-located place to park your RV, since there are numerous campgrounds to choose from.
With so much to see and do in the Windy City, you’ll be very hard-pressed to fit it all into one trip, but we’ve tried to highlight a few of the best must-see and must-do activities to help get your trip started.
Popular RV Destinations in Chicago
Chicago Riverwalk and Lakefront Trail
With the Chicago River running directly through the heart of the city the fully paved Lakefront Trail and Chicago Riverwalk is a mecca of some of the top tourist destinations in town all conveniently clustered within walking distance of each other. Check out the McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum, which will give you an up-close look at the working mechanisms of some of the city’s famous movable bridges that span over two miles of the river as it runs through downtown. You’ll also be able to jump aboard any of the guided river cruises that offer educational tours up and down the famed waterway.
The Lakefront Trail stretches over 18 miles from the southern end to the northern end of the city and is home to countless restaurants, parks, museums, and landmarks. It’s an ideal spot to begin your tour of this proud and historic city. The walk itself is beautiful and scenic, traveling along the shores of Lake Michigan and giving you unique views of the downtown and the city’s iconic skyline. It conveniently culminates in our next recommended attraction.
The famous Navy Pier is a hive of activity with plenty of restaurants, bars, parks, attractions, retail shops, and experiences to keep you busy all day and well into the evening. This historical landmark features one of Chicago’s most recognized attractions, the giant Centennial Wheel, an enclosed Ferris wheel that rises almost 200 feet in the air, giving you some of the most dramatic 360-degree views of the city that you’ll ever have the pleasure of seeing. In fact, the first Ferris wheel in the world debuted right in that same spot at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893, so it’s a serious piece of history.
Also be sure to check out Off-shore, the world’s largest rooftop viewing venue, which boasts 36,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space and provides some pretty spectacular views in its own right. Fun themed restaurants and free one-of-a-kind arts and cultural experiences give visitors something different to do every day.
Smack dab in downtown Chicago is Millenium Park, which features the famous 110-ton Cloud Gate sculpture as its centerpiece. Cloud Gate is a giant, polished, stainless steel “bean” that was inspired by liquid mercury, and it’s the ideal setting for your vacation selfie. Like a giant mirror, it reflects the area’s surroundings in a fun-house style approach that attracts kids and adults alike.
Another excellent photo op is the Crown Fountain which is a fascinating interpretation of an ancient gargoyle that features two screens that depict a changing array of local faces that spew water from their mouths at five-minute intervals. Be sure to check out the lush and free Lurie Garden, which is open year-round, and take in a free concert, performance, or show at the Pritzker Pavilion.
The Rookery Building
If you’re into architecture, Chicago is famous for its innovative and dramatic examples, including the famed Rookery Building. It was originally designed by two of Chicago’s earliest and most prominent architects, Daniel Burnham and John Root in 1888, and was later remodeled by the equally iconic Frank Lloyd Wright in 1907. Today, the Rookery Building stands as one of Chicago’s most historically significant buildings, thanks to its nostalgic feel of a bygone era elegantly combined with state-of-the-art technology.
This 12-story Roman Revival sits on the Register of National Historic Places and offers a visually appealing Queen-Anne style facade that opens to a stunning showcase of dramatic ornamental iron staircases in a brightly lit, wide-open lobby that wows all who enter. Located in the heart of Chicago’s financial district, the building remains in full-time use as an enclave for business offices. It was given its name because of the large number of pigeons that used to fly in and out of the building on a daily basis.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Sitting as one of the crown jewels of Grant Park is the acclaimed Art Institute of Chicago, which houses one of the most diverse art collections in the world. Offerings span pieces that have been created over thousands of years and include a shocking number of distinct media, from paintings, prints, and sculptures, to textiles, architectural drawings, photography, and more. One of the most well-known collections of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings found anywhere is housed in this massive museum, which is a work of art in and of itself.
The main building of the Art Institute was originally built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and has been added to over the decades to encompass more than 400,000 square feet of display space that houses more than 300,000 works of art. You can acquaint yourself with classic examples of art, such as Renoir’s 1879 Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando, Georges Seurat’s 1884 A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte, numerous works by Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, and many more.
People of all ages get swept up in the vastness and diversity of Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. One of the most extensive aquariums in the country, you can see everything from snakes, frogs, and piranhas of the Amazon to turtles, sharks, rays, and ethereal jellyfish of the Caribbean. Penguins, sea lions, and otters also call the Shedd Aquarium home year-round.
As well as notable permanent exhibits, the aquarium boasts an impressive amount of rotating offerings, including animal presentations, interactive touch tanks, and feeding opportunities. An entire day flies by as you explore exhibits like “Amazon Rising” with all of its brightly colored fish, the” Abbott Oceanarium” with its playful beluga whales, sea lions, dolphins, and sea otters, the “Wild Reef” with its pristine and healthy examples of lush, live coral that serves as a playground for fish, jellyfish, stingrays and sharks, and so much more. In fact, you may want to plan your must-see attractions in advance to ensure you don’t miss anything in this massive aquatic playground.
Events and Entertainment in Chicago
St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Shamrock Shuffle
One of the most popular and well-known annual events in the city of Chicago is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and all the fun and lively events that go with it. No one celebrates St. Patrick’s Day quite like Chicago, which starts out by dyeing the waters of the Chicago River a brilliant emerald green that acts as the anchor for Irish festivities. It’s really something to see!
The parade takes place at noon on the Saturday before March 17 and begins at Balbo and Columbus and winds all the way north up to Monroe Street with a special temporary viewing stand erected in the front of Buckingham Fountain. After the parade, revelers party in the streets until the wee hours, enjoying live Irish music, traditional Irish foods, and drinking green beer. For the more health-conscious celebrator, you can participate with more than 30,000 of your fellow runners in the Shamrock Shuffle, the world’s largest timed 8K run, which weaves through Chicago’s famed Loop; it’s a great way to earn that green beer.
At its inauguration back in 1991, few people could have foreseen that a single-stage musical showcase would evolve into one of the biggest, larger-than-life, multi-day music festivals in the nation. Lollapalooza honors Chicago’s love and appreciation of all genres of music and its historical musical legacy with hundreds of thousands of fans that descend upon the city to immerse themselves in the festival. Over 400,000 people excitedly and amicably attend the event, which is held in Chicago’s Grant Park.
Eight separate stages showcase more than 170 bands and performers over the festival’s four days in August. Some of the biggest names in the music industry are anchors for the event, which also proudly hosts local talent and eager up-and-comers looking to make a name for themselves. Of course, there’s plenty to do between sets at this huge venue that also offers art, food, beverages, and vendors selling souvenirs and merchandise.
Taste of Chicago
Planning your trip to Chicago around the world’s largest free-admission outdoor food festival, the Taste of Chicago is a great way to sample all the diverse and delicious foods that the city is famous for in one fun and scenic location. Held in the large and spacious Grant Park, offerings range from Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza and its equally famous Chicago Dog hotdogs, to all kinds of international specialties and unique chef-inspired creations. Over 80 of Chicago’s top restaurants turn out to participate in this ever-growing event.
Along with some of the top brick-and-mortar restaurants, you can also sample foods from over 15 food trucks and more than 20 pop-up spots. While this festival is mainly centered around palate-pleasing foods and beverages, the Taste of Chicago also showcases local visual and performing artists, with lots of art booths and performances on the central stage throughout the day.
Chicago Air and Water Show
In case you haven’t noticed, Chicago loves to host some top-notch free events throughout the year, and the Chicago Air and Water Show is one of its biggest draws, attracting close to two million people each year, making it the largest free show of its kind in the entire U.S. For over 60 years, the skies over downtown Chicago have been taken over each August to showcase death-defying aerial feats in an adrenaline-packed live display put on by some of the country’s top military and stunt pilots. You can also marvel at the timed coordination and athleticism of parachute teams.
As the name implies, the two-day show isn’t just about aerial acrobatics. Turn your attention to the waters of Lake Michigan to watch some of the most aggressive, competitive, and talented water skiers in the world, as well as a water ballet, diving competition, a water rescue demonstration by the Coast Guard, and much more.
Thanksgiving Day Parade
Few cities in America can rival the size and complexity of Chicago’s famous Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is held each year on, you guessed it, Thanksgiving. This event kicks off a jam-packed holiday season as tens of thousands of people line the streets of downtown Chicago early to ensure they get prime viewing of the amazingly detailed and intricate floats, the festively costumed performers, and the bright and fun larger-than-life balloons depicting well-known cartoon characters and pop culture icons.
The parade takes over Chicago’s State Street Loop and is completely free of charge. This famed parade has been a Chicago staple dating back all the way to the 1930s, when it was originally called the Christmas Caravan. It’s been brightening spirits and putting people in the festive holiday mood ever since.
Q: What are RV rentals?
RV rentals work much like any other vehicle rentals. You pay a daily or weekly rate. You can expect these rates to fluctuate based on the time of year and the geographic location that you're renting. Naturally, rates tend to increase during peak season. You can get an RV for a certain period and enjoy all its benefits while traveling without the hassles and large cost of owning your RV. It’s also a great way to try out some different RV models if you’re considering purchasing your own.
Q: How much are RV rentals?
RV rentals in Peoria can range between $75 and $150 per night for most small to moderately sized trailers and campervans. Larger RVs and travel trailers can cost from $100 to $250 per night, depending on the season and the RV’s year, make, and model. Some companies offer a discount if you rent for longer than a week.
Q: Do I need to be a certain age to rent an RV in Chicago?
While most states require you to be at least 25 years old to rent an RV, the legal age to rent one in Illinois is 18. This may not be the policy of your RV rental agency, however. Most companies require you to be at least 25 to rent.
Q: Do I need insurance when I rent an RV?
Yes, you'll need insurance to rent an RV in Chicago. It's meant to cover the vehicle in case of an accident and is mandatory in most states. Most rental companies will have RV-specific insurance that you can purchase.
Q: Do I need to return my rental RV with a full tank?
This policy varies among rental agencies, but most RV rental facilities in Chicago will expect you to return the vehicle with a full tank of gas. At the very least, the fuel should be at the same level as when you picked up the vehicle.
Q: Are RVs pet-friendly in Chicago?
Many RV and camper rentals in Chicago are pet-friendly, and there are even vehicles specially designed for accommodating animals. Still, it’s important to double-check the policy with your chosen rental agency before renting a particular vehicle.