While its neighboring states take up lots of the prime lakeside real estate in the area, Illinois holds on to a little room for its own resorts. From riverside cabins and hunting lodges in the woods, to beachside rooms and spa getaways on Lake Michigan, there are plenty of places to get your fill of recreation and relaxation.
Many of these resorts are just a short drive from Chicago, so you could easily spend a weekend on the golf course or fishing at the lake. Others offer remote retreats with water sports, skiing, and spa specials just next to your own personal cottage. Illinois is more than just Chicago, and these resorts will put you in touch with the state’s natural side.
I’m an Illinois local so don’t worry I’m sure you’ll find something you like in this list I compiled of the best resorts in Illinois:
1. Chestnut Mountain Resort
First and foremost a ski resort, Chestnut Mountain makes a lot of these “best of Illinois” lists because it’s great to visit all year round, even when the snow melts. Located in the popular tourist area of Galena (rated one of the best small towns to visit), the property sits overlooking the Mississippi River. Relaxed and welcoming, Chestnut Mountain is perfect for a romantic weekend escape or a ski trip with friends. They’ve got tons of hiking and biking trails, an alpine slide, a disc golf course, and even segway tours.
When you’re not hitting the slopes, take a dip in the pool, relax in the jacuzzi, or sweat it out in the sauna. If you’re feeling a bit more active, you can even play mini golf or check out their Soaring Eagle Zipline. There are over 100 rooms with free wifi set hillside with views of the ski trails. If you need a drink, check out The Summit sports bar on site with its extensive craft beer list, or enjoy steaks and fresh seafood at their Sunset Grille.
2. Eaglewood Resort & Spa
If you’re looking for a luxurious resort close to the big city, Eaglewood in Itasca is a great spot to take a break from Chicago. From spa weekends to golf outings to family vacations, they’ve got something to keep you busy… or relax you. They offer spacious accommodation, with over 295 guest rooms and suites. You can choose rooms with views of the golf course or opt for a rooftop suite if you’re feeling fancy. Rooms all come with great Internet and oversize desks in case you’re there to work or attend a meeting or conference.
You can turn your stay into a health retreat with fitness classes like aqua aerobics and Zumba. Or DIY it in their fitness center and pool. They’ve got golf, tennis, bocce ball, and even their own six-lane bowling alley, complete with darts, billiards, a full-service bar, and an outdoor patio. For some Midwest and American farm-to-table cuisine, guests can dine at Burnham’s restaurant and grab a seat by the fire on the patio.
3. Herrington Inn & Spa
Set just south of St. Charles, this elegant resort contains regal decor not often found in the USA. Overlooking the Fox River on one side, and a manicured garden on the other, It’s a bit of a grandiose replica of that iconic old European-style architecture right down to the gabled roofs. With a gazebo, patio, ballroom, and a conference room, it is easy to see why the Herrington is touted as a hot place for events to be held.
The resort has lovely farm-to-table options made by 5-star chefs for mealtimes. Dine at Atwater’s Restaurant intimate dining room or bring a gathering of 8 to the riverfront Gazebo. Looking to keep it casual? Go for cocktails at the Atwater’s Lobby Bar or take them out on the al fresco patio with a snack. As for where you’ll be sleeping, there are 60 rooms to choose from, each includes a complimentary European-style continental breakfast buffet. And if you are wanting a bit of romance, I recomend the Parlor Room, with its fireplace and oversized whirlpool tub you will never want to leave!
4. Lincolnshire Marriott Resort
Marriott keeps up its award-winning service at this golf resort in the North Shore area. Good for business retreats or romantic weekends, it’s located 30 minutes away from O’Hare International Airport. Their almost 400 rooms and suites contain modern amenities and work areas. In terms of recreation, guests can hit up a PGA golf course, tennis center, volleyball courts, hiking and biking trails, and the swimming pools (indoor and outdoor). They’ve even got a live musical theater that puts on musicals and Broadway shows!
Book a massage or spa appointment, order room service, or head out to try some of the meals they cook with fresh ingredients grown on site. At dinner or happy hour, you’ve got four different restaurants and lounges to choose from, like the local fare at the Fairfield Inn Restaurant or clubhouse dining at Crane’s Landing overlooking the golf course. For your caffeine fix, there’s a coffee kiosk serving Starbucks. Plus there’s tons of meeting space if you’ve got a corporate affair on the calendar.
5. Oak Terrace Resort & Spa
Whether you want to play golf, relax at the spa, or get married, you can do that here! The resort’s golf course is famed for the “Shotmaker’s Mile,” a challenging set of holes on the back nine passing through the forest and water obstacles. Located in the town of Pana, this resort is nestled in a wooded area next to a 65 acre lake.
They call themselves a haven for folks looking for an affordable getaway, and guests can choose between rooms at the Inn, lakeside villas, and fairway townhomes. All come with great outdoor space – either private balconies, patios, or porches. The resort offers fine dining or “fun” dining at Mulligan’s Bar & Grille, where they serve great pub food options like fried pickles and chicken wings, or more refined fare like grilled pork chops and bourbon glazed salmon. And you can stick around for live music in the evenings!
6. Hilton Chicago Indian Lakes Resort
Located just 40 minutes from downtown Chicago, this Hilton resort in Bloomingdale offers lots of stuff to do within a short driving distance if you ever feel like leaving the oversize suite you’ve booked. Set on 260 acres of land, the grounds are filled with architecture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Suites include complimentary wifi and huge flat screen televisions with DIRECTTV channels, but the Presidential Suites include wraparound decks and wood-burning fireplaces. There’s also a humongous indoor pool and waterfall hot tub, plus a 24-hour fitness center.
They have lots of meeting space and three dining and lounge options for guests to choose from, including Izzy & Moe’s, a speakeasy concept with DJ and karaoke nights, and Shiraz on the Water, an elegant dining room with contemporary American dishes. And there’s a long list of beers available at the Cave Bar set in their beautiful indoor atrium.
If you consider visiting I recommend reading my guide on Bloomingdale, IL.
7. Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa
Packed with “country manor-style” luxury, Eagle Ridge is located in the Lake Galena area on a pristine and secluded piece of property built for activities and relaxation. They describe the rooms at the Inn as “rustic elegant” and include upgrade options like gas fireplaces, jetted tubs, and walkout patios. The resort’s Stonedrift Spa is huge, with steam rooms, organic products, and ten treatment rooms, not to mention its huge range of massages and rejuvenating treatments.
They’ve got over 20 miles of hiking and biking trails to point you toward, and the resort can arrange boating, golf, kayaking, and even a hot air balloon ride for guests! Not enough? Schedule some horseback riding, sledding, skiing, birdwatching, or footgolf. (Yes, that last one is a combination of golf and soccer – they’ve got a course for it!) Woodlands Restaurant has lake views, Sunday brunch, wine tastings, and all-you-can-eat prime rib dinner on Saturdays.
8. Worldmark Galena Resort
Located just outside of Apple State Canyon Park, Worldmark rubs elbows with a lot of activity-filled areas in this touristy region of Illinois. There are four world-class golf courses, downhill ski runs, and equestrian trails at your fingertips as guests of the resort. Enjoy suites that feel like your own cozy mountain home with wood finishes, fire places, whirlpool tubs, kitchen areas (equipped with everything you might need!), and flat screen TVs.
Outside your room, you’ll have an indoor pool at your disposal, along with a sauna, hot tub, barbecue grills, and movie rentals. There’s a fitness center and basketball court too if you’re trying to get physical. And you can play ping pong or billiards in the resort’s game room. If you want to get off the property, there are tons of cute shops, restaurants, and historic spots in the town of Galena, just a quick drive away.
9. Hilton Chicago Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center
Whether you’re here for business or leisure, you can take advantage of the pool and golf course located literally right next to your room. Hilton offers shuttle service to the surrounding areas for your convenience too. If you don’t want to get out and play real golf on the Willow Crest course, they have an indoor golf simulator where you can “play” 80 courses from around the world. And if you’re there for business, you can arrange to use the amphitheater with video-conferencing and catering options.
Dine at the Tin Cup Bar & Grille or their new modern B. Restaurant & Lounge. If you’re relaxing by the pool, have a snack at Noonan’s, their grab-and-go option for golfers and sunbathers. The Monarch Spa offers onsite and poolside services like facials and massages, or you can have them send someone up to your room. Speaking of which, your room will come with contemporary amenities like a 42-inch flat screen TV and Keurig coffee station.
10. Cypress Resort & Marine
Rent a cottage, bring the boat, and experience the attention to detail offered at the family-owned Cypress Resort. Lie on their private sandy beach on the shores of Petite Lake where they provide grills, electricity along the seawall, and a boat ramp. For parties, you can rent out the Boat House, a beautiful event space with hardwood floors and nautical touches, plus beach access for your guests during the festivities
It’s a little different than your usual resort and this place could be called “boutique”… or just small and private. Cypress offers five cottages for rent, all thoughtfully designed with natural light, modern furnishings, and fully equipped kitchens that include coffee and a french press. Take advantage of the charcoal grills, fire pit, kayaks, and paddleboards during the summer months, or try some ice fishing in the winter.
11. Harpole’s Heartland Lodge
Located in Pike County, this is a serious hunting lodge but also a fantastic vacation resort for the whole family. The area is prime for whitetail deer, but you can strike out in search of pheasant, quail, and wild turkeys if you prefer. They offer multi-day hunting packages that include guides, meals, lodging, and access to their private hunting properties.
On the other hand, if you’re just trying to relax and get away, you can stay in one of their luxury cabins, or try out the romantic onsite bed and breakfast. A huge stone fireplace, large back deck, comfortable rooms with unique character, and home-cooked meals are all part of the latter experience. In terms of activities, it’s not surprising that a hunting lodge would offer sporting clay shooting and a pistol range, but you can also go horseback riding, fishing, play volleyball, or take an ATV out to the resort’s trails and terrain park for a little excitement.
12. Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort
Set in Utica near Starved Rock State Park, Grizzly Jack’s sounds like it would be kid-friendly… and it totally is. This resort has a huge indoor waterpark complete with a wave pool, water slides, and lazy river. There’s also the Cave Arcade that contains over 60 arcade and video games with prizes for the kids. Step outdoors and you’ll find a playground and Bear Island, a four-tiered observation deck overlooking Curtis Canyon.
Go rafting or boating on the Illinois River, play golf at Senica’s Oak Ridge Golf Club, or drink wine at one of the nearby wineries. Families can choose to stay in villas, cabins, or suites, all complete with wifi and cable TV. As you’d expect, there’s family-friendly dining at Jack’s Place Restaurant & Bar, which serves up pizzas, salads, and burgers. Or the pool area houses the Wave Cafe for a snack or tropical drink while you swim.
13. Illinois Beach Hotel
Set on the beaches of Lake Michigan near Zion, just 40 minutes from Chicago, this is an affordable and practical vacancy spot. Each of the 92 rooms has views of the nearby state park or waves crashing on the sandy shore. Take a stroll around the lake, head out on a fishing expedition, or just enjoy lying on the beach. Visit their huge pool set in an atrium with palm trees that will have you feeling tropical, or pop into the spa for a massage to get into relaxation mode.
For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, dine at their Lakeside Restaurant, known for its steaks and beer-battered fish. Or you can grab a drink at the Sandpiper Lounge. If you want to get off the property, there are two golf courses nearby, and Six Flags theme park is just a short drive away. They’ll even arrange packages which include tickets and a night at the resort for your family!
I recently created a post on the best things in Zion you can check out.
14. Aerie’s Resort and Winery
Set amongst what they call the best views in the Midwest, Aerie’s is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. They’ve got plenty of different accommodation options whether you’re there as a couple or with lots of friends and family. With villas, cottages, suites, or rooms in the lodge, opt for comfortable or luxury with lots of contemporary amenities, great scenery, and outdoor living space.
The biggest draw of the resort is probably the winery, with its award-winning wines, live entertainment, beer garden, and fine dining right on the edge of the river. The restaurant’s menu consists of fresh-made flatbread pizzas and an impressive array of small plates, all created with their wines in mind. Another one of the surprising attractions I would recommend here? The 9-line, 200 foot high Grafton Zipline where guests can take a nearly 2-mile long canopy tour of the surrounding nature in a dramatic fashion.