Top 5 Midwest Vacation Cities
Midwest Vacation Cities: Winter has been long and hard for most. Too much snow and several storms have blanketed the nation over the winter months. The good news is in sight, though. Spring is almost here and summer will not be far behind. With that in mind, it’s time to start planning for your summer vacation.
If you live in the mid-west or are planning on vacationing there, you will want to consider our top-5 vacation spots. Our list includes a few places to consider when visiting each destination. Here is our list:
This great mid-western location is tops because of its location and amazing value. the forest park has many unique offerings, and most are free. Starting with the world-famous Zoo, one of the largest in the US, a family is sure to enjoy and it’s FREE!
Close by a family can enjoy the St. Louis Science Center. Entry is once again FREE and there are many great things to experience. Several interactive exhibits are available for the family along with an IMAX theater and a planetarium.
The Gateway Arch is a must-see attraction. The tallest free-standing monument in the world, the Arch is one of the most-visited sites in the US.
Grants Farm is another great attraction for families. The famous Clydesdale Horses are kept here as are many unique animals. A guided tour through the former home of our 18th president is a nice addition to your visit. St. Louis is also home the Six Flags Over Mid-America. This theme park has tons of exciting rides and also has a water park on-site. There are many more reasons to visit St. Louis, so be sure to explore our site to find out more information and start planning your trip right away.
The Windy City takes the second spot on our list. Boasting some of the most popular museums in the world, Chicago has something for everyone. A wonderful place to start is the Museum of Science and Industry. You will have hours of fun exploring this mammoth museum. There are hands-on exhibits, a WWII submarine (and an Enigma Coding Machine from the Nazi’s), a flight simulator, and so much more.
Another great place to see is the Shedd Aquarium. Located just off of Lake Shore Drive, this is one of the most popular aquariums in the world. They have great water shows (dolphins and more) for the family and there are millions of sea creatures to see. This place is a wonderful place to see and it is great for all ages.
Right down the street from the Aquarium is the Adler Planetarium. I visited the Planetarium when I was in the 6th grade and recently took my kids (a difference of only 33 years) and a lot had changed. The exhibits and shows were amazing and the staff was very friendly. My kids especially loved the gift shop.
Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower) is currently the tallest building in the western hemisphere. This 108-story, 1451 foot building offers a breath-taking view of Chicago. The building sways slightly in the wind, though it’s pretty hard to detect and is capped by several antennas that give the building its familiar look.
Don’t forget to stop off at Navy Pier to enjoy some theme-park style fun, take in a show, or take a ride on Lake Michigan in one of the boats for a panoramic look at the Chicago Skyline.
Chicago has much more to offer. From sports teams to shopping to entertainment (like the Blue Man Group). If you are thinking about a vacation in the mid-west, Chicago is a real pleaser!
Back to the Show-Me State for our number 3 pick. Branson is home to some of the best family entertainment found anywhere. There are dozens of top-notch entertainers found all over this once-tiny Ozark community. Show tickets can be found almost anywhere you look and there are more hotels, motels, timeshares, condominiums, and other types of lodging than you can find anywhere else.
Branson has a true family theme park-Silver Dollar City. Thrills and spills abound in the 1800’s setting along with authentic old-style shops and crafts. There is something for everyone here.
Table Rock Lake is nearby and offers plenty of aquatic choices, including boat rides, swimming, and more.
Branson is perhaps the most-family-friendly destination in our list because the whole area is built on family entertainment. Don’t be fooled by it’s a smaller size, though. Branson does experience heavy traffic during many months of the year. Be sure to make your arrangements early and pre-order your tickets if you want to see a show. Some shows sell out regularly, so you don’t want to miss out.
When you arrive you will also want to consider the Shepherd of the Hills area, Marvel Cave, and the Titanic. Branson is a great place to visit and when you do, you will want to keep coming back year after year!
Rapid City, South Dakota
The Black Hills Region of South Dakota is one of my favorite places to visit. History, geology, and just plain fun things to do bring Rapid City to number four on our list. When you think of South Dakota, you normally think of Mount Rushmore. Four great presidents stare over the Black Hills in this American landmark. Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln come to life. There is a unique museum, a great night show, and more at Mt. Rushmore.
Nearby, Crazy Horse is taking shape. Though not complete yet, it takes little imagination to see the famous Native American riding his larger-than-life horse through the Black Hills.
Badlands National Park is a wonderful place to explore. Created through the erosional powers of wind and water, the Badlands offer views that are unlike any seen anywhere else. You can hike trails (fossils are a common find on the trails-I once found a petrified animal skull here), take some great photos, and even see a prairie dog community on the west end of the park. Just outside of the Badlands, you will find Wall Drug. You won’t be able to miss it as you will see signs for it for hundreds of miles in either direction you approach from, but it certainly a place you will want to visit. There are plenty of shops and stores in Wall so you will be able to gather some great gifts for those back home.
Ellsworth Air Force Base is located just to the east of Rapid City and it the home to some pretty impressive machines. Jets, planes, and rockets are the focus of Ellsworth so if you have any flying enthusiasts, you will want to stop here.
There is so much more to see and do in this area. Caves, gold mines, historical sites, and more are plentiful and are generally within an hour from Rapid City.
Two other spots you will want to consider seeing while here are Custer State Park and the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. Trust me, even though I haven’t said anything about them here, you will want to visit each.
The Hoosier State gets on the list finally with Indianapolis. The largest Capital City in the mid-west and second largest in the United States, Indy has lots of things to see and do.
The Indy 500 Museum is a must-see when visiting. Located in Speedway on the near-west side, you can see cars from years gone by as well as the Borg-Warner Trophy (given to the winner of the race). During much of the year, you will even be able to take a drive around the 2.5 oval.
The Children’s Museum is the largest such museum in the country. Here you will find plenty of hands-on exhibits and see some great demonstrations. The gigantic water clock is extremely fascinating and is sure to spur discussion with the kids.
The Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument is located in the heart of Indianapolis. Each year this monument is transformed into the “World’s Largest Christmas Tree” (or so claimed) and there is a huge lighting ceremony on Black Friday where thousands show up.
Conner Prairie is an 1800’s homestead in restored condition. Here you can see how people of the time lived and watch as they perform their crafts.
The NCAA Hall of Champions is in Indianapolis and is a great place to visit for sports enthusiasts of all ages. Relive those championship games from years gone by and learn about how college sports have changed over the years.
There is so much more to see and do in Indy! From unique museums and monuments to exciting athletic events, Indianapolis has plenty to experience.
A few other places you may want to consider that just missed our top-5 lists are (in no particular order): Minneapolis, Wisconsin Dells, Sandusky (Ohio), and Kansas City. Each of these has plenty to see and do as well.