Frankenmuth, Michigan is a five hour drive outside of the city of Chicago. It may very well be the best five hour drive you could possibly experience at any time of the year, but it is beyond wonderful at this time of year.
The town offers a delightful and large bounty of unique shops, friendly hotels/bed & breakfasts, and a handful of good eating establishments. The Frankenmuth River Place offers 40 specialty shops and there is plenty of parking. The beautifully restored State Theater is a wonderful location to see films and the prices are from the 1970's.
It has enough to keep children delighted for hours on end (yes, there is a water park and a ton of child friendly photo ops) and adults will find a solid fun-packed weekend with a beautiful bridge, lovely walkways and some decent fried chicken.
Visit the St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (even if you are not Lutheran). It's a Gothic wonder built by the German settlers in 1880. Across from the church there is a replica of the original log cabin church. There are also two German cast bells which were brought to Frankenmuth in 1845.