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The long, long RV trip, Week 7: Chicagoland RVing and re-evaluating this trip

This week’s stops:

  • Chicago and the Chicago suburbs

Hello to everyone following the Long Long RV Trip journey and thanks for coming along with me. Today I want to talk about Chicagoland RVing and my experiences moochdocking in the Chicago burbs.

When last we left off I had departed Kansas City. Again. After doubling back and a very harrowing week involving an explosive blowout and saying goodbye to a beloved pet.

I had a lot to think over on the 8-hour drive from my friend Tom’s house near Kansas City to my friend Craig’s house near Chicago.

When it comes to Chicagoland RVing, or RVing near any big city for that matter, it’s hard to beat moochdocking. I was lucky to have a friend with a big wide driveway next to a beautiful suburban Chicagoland home.

Don’t worry if moochdocking is not available to you. I give some other Chicagoland RVing options below.

Chicagoland RVing: Moochdocking in the “burbs”

Chicagoland RVing, moochdocking in the burbs

I was still having electrical problems with my trailer. But Craig, a professional mechanic with RV experience, had told me to hold off on any RV repairs as he might be able to fix them himself.

After getting parked in the large level driveway, I moved into one of the house’s spare bedrooms until he could get a chance to evaluate the problem.

As a side note, Craig and I have a unique bond, and there is an extremely unusual backstory to our friendship. This friendship has now spanned over 10 years, even though we only met in person for the first time earlier this year while he was on a cross-country motorcycle trip. For anyone curious, details are in this recent NBC news story.

Rising fuel costs and procrastinating on planning

I had every intention of fully re-evaluating my plans when I arrived in Chicago. Besides the emotional loss of re-homing my dog for his own good, the Long Long RV Trip was becoming much more expensive than I had anticipated.

Fuel prices were through the roof. Colorado and Kansas were only slightly more reasonable, but Missouri and Illinois were nearly as bad as California was when I began the journey.

Some of the country’s worst prices were in the states on my original intended return route: the Dakotas, Montana, Washington, Oregon, and California.

New England, where I was headed next, was not much better. I might have to re-route.

Plus, I just had to spend more than $1,300 on new truck tires. Yow!

Craig convinced me to put off the decisions until after the 4th of July, and to relax and stay put for at least the next few weeks.

In the meantime, we would sightsee and do some truck and trailer repairs.

That would also allow time to help his friends, who owned the house where I was moochdocking, prepare for the out-of-town guests who would soon be arriving for the neighborhood’s weekend-long annual Independence Day bash.

It sounded good to me. Especially since I also needed time to look for a used truck cap for my pickup.

Best Chicagoland RVing spots if you can’t moochdock

Chicagoland RVing - Cloud Gate and Chicago Skyline

If you are not lucky enough to have such hospitable friends near Chicago, there are RVing options within reasonable distance of the city.

These include three county parks in Cook County:

If you venture further out to some of the communities surrounding Chicago, such as Joliet, or in DuPage County, you’ll find many more options including commercial campgrounds.  You’ll be further from the city but still within easy accessibility of trains to take you there and back.

Another option is to check out hosts close to Chicago with Boondockers Welcome and/or Harvest Hosts.



If you want to get into urban RVing, there’s even a parking lot right IN downtown Chicago where you can park for a night, albeit without hookups. For more information visit the McCormick Place website.

The Chicagoland area offers excellent public transportation. Metra trains connect with Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains and buses.

Likewise, it is pretty easy to get around the city and surrounding areas without a vehicle. You can even buy a “super saver pass” that gives you free access to roam among the systems.

This means that if you find a camping or moochdocking spot, you can leave your RV and vehicle behind and still tour Chicago.

A classic downtown Chicago day

Chicagoland RVing - start of route 66
Route 66 begins in downtown Chicago!

The next morning my friend and I boarded one of those CTA trains and went downtown.

After locating the start of Route 66 for a photo op, and marveling at the iconic Chicago architecture and skyline, we walked to Buckingham Fountain. It was even more impressive in person than it is in the opening credits of Married with Children.

We then strolled along the picturesque Lake Michigan waterfront, watching boaters and swimmers.

There are so many great museums and attractions to choose from in this area: the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chicago History Museum, and more.

Eventually we settled on the Shedd Aquarium.

Communing with nature and Chicago art and architecture at the Shedd Aquarium

chicagoland RVing - Shedd Aquarium
Sculpture at the Shedd Aquarium

A neoclassical temple of white marble and terracotta, Neptune’s trident capping the Shedd Aquarium’s glass dome gives a clue to the aquatic marvels held within.

The Shedd Aquarium opened in 1930. The building was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, masters of the Beaux-Arts architectural style. Their other iconic Chicago works included the Field Museum and Wrigley Building.

Shedd’s fresh and saltwater tanks display marine life from all over the world. Highlights include a Beluga whale encounter, playful sea otters, sharks of all kinds, penguins, hands-on encounters with both sturgeons and rays, and much, much more.

Chicago deep dish pizza

What else would we eat for dinner than Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza?

The topic of which pizzeria serves the best Chicago-style pizza is a matter of fierce debate among Chicagoans. We opted for Gino’s East that night, a place both Craig and I have fond past memories of, albeit at different times and with different people.

In my younger days, work and personal relationships would take me to Chicago often. While I have not been there in years, Pizzeria Due always slightly edged out Gino’s East for me, although both are darn good.

This year, however, I found a new Chicago deep dish pizzeria favorite, Connie’s (news of that in a future installment of the Long, Long RV Trip).

Suburban 4th of July

chicagoland rving -- 4th of july parade

The next week was busy with work and helping our friends prepare for their weekend guests and Independence Day Party.

I spent an old-fashioned small town family 4th of July, with a parade that passed right in front of the house, a ton of fireworks, and lots of kids running around. It was delightful!

NEXT WEEK: Electrical issues solved, more iconic Chicago foods, Lincoln Park Zoo

Previously in Cheri’s long, long RV trip:

##RVT1062

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David
18 days ago

No mention of Brookfield zoo, I go to the zoo every time I visit Chicagoland.

Cheri Sicard
18 days ago
Reply to  David

Nope did not go there this trip, but Lincon Park Zoo is coming up next week.

Mike Schwab
18 days ago

Forest Preserve of Cook County added a very limited number of RV and tent camping spots, many geared toward large groups. https://fpdcc.com/things-to-do/camping/

Illinois Beach State Park near Wisconsin and Indiana Dunes are near the lake and have commuter train stops into Downtown Chicago.

Cheri Sicard
18 days ago
Reply to  Mike Schwab

Good to know, thanks for sharing!

Diane Mc
19 days ago

One brave lady with a big heart. I’m not a marijuana person (medical ok),however life with no parole for what your friend was charged with is/was heartbreaking. So glad he was pardoned. Regarding your tire situation. Have you called CarMax? Certainly they have a record of you taking the truck back under warranty because of the cracks in the tires. Also, the issue with the tires being a year older than the truck. Although that could have been whoever traded it in. Nonetheless it wouldn’t hurt to call CarMax. Good luck to you on the rest of your journey.

Mike Schwab
18 days ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Tires can last 6 years without being used, before dry rot starts cracking the tires. They are often stored in warehouses for 1-2 years before being sold.

Cheri Sicard
18 days ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

I thought about it and then decided it would only be an exercise in frustration as I have had the truck over 4 months now. But the AAA guy said the tires were a year older than the truck. Something to pay closer attention to next time.

Last edited 18 days ago by Cheri Sicard
Dan F
19 days ago

I have to ask why such a big camper for 1 person? Seems like a lot to handle and take care of. Not saying its wrong. Maybe because me and the wife are outside most of time camping we only ended up doing a 20ft camper.

Cheri Sicard
18 days ago
Reply to  Dan F

My trailer is 25 feet, so not so very big, and it works for me and what I need. If something smaller works for you great. Everyone and their needs are different. I live and work on the road for long periods. That involves shooting videos and testing recipes. I also want room for friends and family to come and travel with me which they do. I had a Class B, that was not working for me and what I needed in a mobile home/office/studio.

Billinois
19 days ago

One other option for camping in Chicago is Hollywood Casino in Joliet. They have an RV park, no sewer hookup but there is a dump station and water and electric. It’s close to I-55 which will take you into the city. Security patrolled, and I think there is a shuttle over to the casino if you want have dinner and feel like losing some money.

Cheri Sicard
18 days ago
Reply to  Billinois

Good to know!

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