Rent a House and Settle In – Give Yourself a Break Away from Home, with the Comforts of Home – Across Illinois
For many of us, life during a pandemic meant that all travel came to a near halt. And for good reason.
There’s still a lot of uncertainty about where to travel and how to do it safely. One idea that’s gained a lot of traction is renting a vacation home, especially in a more secluded or wooded area – the definition of social distancing.
Renting a vacation home – through AirBnB, VRBO or some other service – often means that you literally don’t have to see anyone on your trip if you don’t want to. Most of the time, you don’t even have to see your AirBnB host. There’s often no such thing as “checking in” as hosts use codes or other ways to avoid exchange of keys.
And you don’t have to worry about elevators, or other small enclosed public spaces.
If your children are doing remote learning – and you’re working from home – this time can also be a unique opportunity to get away, relax, and just get some new scenery.
You don’t have to go far – all you need is a serene location, strong wifi, and other conveniences of home. And of course, if you don’t have to work while you’re away – all the better.
We’ve also kept these locations within Illinois (with one exception right over the Mississippi River), in places that offer a respite from daily life and provide good value. Some of them may have minimum nights for reservations. Book early for best selection. We last updated this article in January 2021; remember that everything is subject to change without notice.
- We have put this together with COVID-19 restrictions in mind, but be aware that state/regional/local restrictions and mitigations are changing quickly; we are not advocating for anyone to do anything outside of those rules.
- Pay careful attention to cancellation policies.
- Pricing can be elastic and can change depending on the day or the season. All rates are subject to change at any time.
- We can’t guarantee that these places have internet connections that can handle four people on Zoom at the same time; our (city) house struggles to do that!
Note: All photos are courtesy of Airbnb. AirBnB links are affiliate links, and chambanamoms.com earns a small commission on bookings through those links. Thank you for supporting our small business.
10+ Places to Travel for a “Flexcation” in Illinois That Won’t Break the Bank
Lakefront cottage, Lake of Egypt (Southern Illinois): This lakefront cottage has 2 open docks and a screened-in porch across the entire back of the home overlooking the lake. There’s even two kayaks for guest use. The owners supply bacon, milk & farm eggs for breakfast and are very detailed about what the home has to offer, especially in the kitchen. (They also don’t recommend the home for children under 2.) Plan ahead – this place is popular, and typically rents for less than $150 a night before fees. Sleeps six. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: three hours.
Riverfront Beauty in Peoria: This home’s riverfront views steal the show, and it boasts of having the best sunsets in Central Illinois. Close to city amenities. Review: “This is a hidden gem in central Illinois. If you are looking for a peaceful, calm, quiet home to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle – look no further! The wall of windows overlooking the river is worth it all…but there’s so much more to this little house on the river!” Sleeps six. Wondering what to do in Peoria that is socially distanced? There’s the Peoria Zoo, Wildlife Prairie Park, and the Space Trail. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: 90 minutes. Typically rents about $125/night before fees.
Lake Cabin in the Woods: This cabin is certainly off the beaten path. It’s close-ish to Evansville, Indiana. But best of all, is that it’s a family-friendly destination with pond and woodsy views — and WiFi. That combination can be elusive! One major bonus: the private pool (although depending when you go, it might not be the right temperature). It’s also within shouting distance of Southern Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest, but not quite there if you don’t want to stay that far away from home and prefer a day trip. Typically rents around $115 per night before fees. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: About 2 hours, 15 minutes.
Elaine’s House: This cute 3 bedroom house is set up for families who want to explore Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park areas, which are open year round for outdoor recreation. There’s plenty of other attractions nearby, too. This house has toys for kids, and even ping pong and air hockey in the basement. It’s located in downtown LaSalle, and has committed to “5-Star” cleaning. Bonus: the Twistee Freeze ice cream store down the street. Typically rents for less than $150 per night before fees. Sleeps nine. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: less than two hours.
Toasted Marshmallow Home in Galena: Your family can spread out in this “cozy escape from reality.” Two family rooms, two fireplaces, two decks – including one that is screened in. Completely wooded grounds, watch the wildlife with your morning coffee. Close to hiking, golfing and skiing. There’s also club amenities if desired (and in season). “The internet was strong proven by 3 virtual workers on teleconferences.” Typically rents for less than $170 per night before fees (Galena is expensive!). Sleeps nine. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: about 4 hours.
If you want to combine your “flexcation” with a field trip, here are a few places to do that.
Night at the Twain Museum, Hannibal (Western Illinois) This AirBnB is located in charming Hannibal, Missouri, the home of Mark Twain, just on the other side of the Mississippi River. There’s tons of history in Hannibal – actual and literal. This is better for older kids, who might have read Huckleberry Finn or Adventures of Tom Sawyer. “Night at the Twain Museum gives travelers an immersion experience into the life of Mark Twain, with a collection of over 1,000 items.” Don’t miss the other actual Twain sites. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: about 3.5 hours. It’s highly rated and generally rents for $149 per night.
Briarcliff Manse, Springfield: There’s nothing historic about this house, but it’s set within shouting distance of all the Lincoln historical sites in Springfield. We chose to feature it because of its size – oodles of lovely space at a VERY reasonable price (averaging $120 per night, with some extra charges for larger groups, before fees). Five bedrooms, including a secluded second floor deck off the master bedroom. Highly rated, sleeps up to 12. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: Less than 90 minutes.
Bluff City Bungalow “459”, Alton: This bungalow has a two-sided wrap-around front porch with beautiful views of the Mississippi from dawn to dusk. This house has three bedrooms and plenty of room for the family t spread out. Watch the tugboats pushing the barges down the river to the locks and dam, and beautiful sunsets each evening. Alton is home to the Great River Road which hugs the Mississippi. It’s also near one of the most interesting and underrated historical attractions in the state of Illinois: the Cahokia Mounds, the remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: about 3 hours.
Suburban Retreats: Get Close to the City
Deerfield Pie House: This house is LEGENDARY! A unique place to stay, which has been profiled in national media including the Today Show, Jimmy Fallon and Chicago Tribune. (Note, this is better for a smaller family.) Minutes away from the Chicago Botanic Garden, one of the top destinations in the region – and great for social distancing. Also within walking distance of a Whole Foods, shops, and restaurants. Bonus: walking distance to the Metra commuter train station. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: 2 hours, 40 minutes. Typically rents around $100/night before fees.
Geneva Retreat: This three-bedroom cozy home has all 5-star reviews. Just a 10-minute walk from charming downtown Geneva, a far Chicago suburb it features new furniture and beds. But what guests like most are the small touches like a children’s playroom and trundle beds. A great front porch for porch sitting when the weather allows. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: about two hours. Typically rents around $155/night before fees.
Spacious apartment by Oak Park: This home just over the city limits is highly recommended for families, is close to shopping and parks. While public transit is accessible, it’s recommended to have a car here. Oak Park is a quirky suburb with unique shops and restaurants, and has its own attractions. Plenty of beds and kid-friendly amenities for a larger family. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: about two hours. Typically rents around $139/night before fees.
Logan Square 3-bedroom: Is this place for real? Super budget friendly, this comfortable, spacious and highly-rated apartment in Logan Square boasts of being extra family-friendly, with many baby-friendly amenities. It has fast internet and free street parking. We particularly like the back sunroom. Logan Square’s vibrant food scene, wide boulevards and parks make it a great place to be in the city – but not feel crowded. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: about two hours. Costs around $100/night before fees.
Three bedroom in Uptown/Andersonville: This large, family-friendly apartment is in a two-flat on a quiet street, but not far from of the city’s hopping neighborhoods like Wrigleyville. Described as “classic” and “vintage”, it has something coveted by many – a reserved parking spot. There’s also a backyard and side yard, and deck available for use, so even if you’re in the city – there’s plenty of space to be outside. Distance from Champaign-Urbana: About two hours. Rents for $110-$150/night, depending on number of guests and dates.
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