Chicago: FREE Camping & City Exploration

This was Dennis and my first time to the windy city. We had high expectations and luckily our visit did not disappoint. We marveled at the city’s beautiful architecture, toured the garden and grounds at Lincoln Park, Visited the Bean in Millennium Park, all while parking for FREE near downtown!

We just finished caravanning with our fellow full-time RV/Real Estate Investor friends, Mike and Amy in Indiana before arriving to Illinois. They’ve been in the full time RV game for over 4 years, and had lots of advice and suggestions for us about our trip to Chicago. Each time they visit Chicago, they park at Costco for free. We couldn’t believe that was a thing – but if they can do it, so can we. We called up Costco and after a bit of coercing, we convinced them to let us park for 3 nights. Highlights of our dry camping spot; we felt safe, no one bothered us at all, and it was super centrally located, oh did we mention it was FREE? Downsides of our dry camping spot; it was a bit noisy and your dry camping. Our specific Costco we parked at (there are 3 in Chicago), was next to the metro/train line and oddly enough there was also a helicopter pad nearby (I’m assuming for news crews), but what can you expect…you’re in the heart of the city. We underestimated the water we would need and ran out just before out last night there. We got a bit resourceful and ended up getting extra water from Costco (as sneakily as a 36ft trailer can be). We were so nervous there were going to kick us out after that but again no one bothered us!

We arrived to Costco around 5:00, and had enough time to do some nearby exploring. We decided we’d head on over to Chinatown and get a snack, take in the sites. It was a really cool China town! We loved the architectural details on the buildings and the shops were really cool. They also had great food – we settled on a Szechuan restaurant for dinner which we talk more about here. It’s definitely worth a visit if Chinatown’s are your thing.

It was Liz’s birthday while we were there, and the beach was the number one priority on the birthday. We made it, but unfortunately it was rather overcast. We heard parking was difficult. Frankly the entire city is not car friendly, parking is extremely limited or extremely expensive everywhere! We luckily found a spot for the motorcycle and got to relax at the beach for about an hour before it got too overcast. It was cool to see the city from the view of the beach. We also went to Lincoln Park, which is beautiful! We enjoyed the nature gardens they had, it felt like a peaceful little oasis in the heart of the city. The zoo is also next to the beach and the Nature Gardens which are all free – score!

One of the favorite things we did in our stay was the Architecture Boat Tour. We went with Wendella Boat Tours. Unfortunately, it rained on and off our whole tour but we found a perfect covered spot on the top of the boat where we could still see most of the buildings from. I would like to try this again on a sunny day so we could really enjoy all of the beautiful architecture the city has to offer. The tour was super informative if it’s your first time to Chicago, or if you haven’t done this yet – I would recommend it. It’s a cool way to see the city. Parking again is terrible, so if you’re not in walking distance to downtown get an Uber or Taxi. It cost us just as much as the tour did to park for three hours…

We walked to Millennium Park which has lots of cool art pieces throughout the park. It’s also crazy crowded, guess we weren’t the only ones who wanted to see Cloud Gate. Often called “The Bean”, Cloud Gate is a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor that is a bean shape comprised of 168 individual stainless steel plates.


All in all, our three days there were jam packed and very enjoyable. Chicago treated us well! We look forward to our next visit, and hope to explore even more.