Best midwest road trip destinations blog post

Lippert Scout Brandy Gleason, along with her family of four, known as Gleason Family Adventure, prioritize spending time adventuring together and discovering new activities while learning. They focus on creating cherished family moments and weaving lasting memories. Museums, travel and family-friendly escapades are their passions. Dive in to explore Brandy’s curated list of best Midwest road trip destinations for the whole family. 

The 9 Best Midwest Road Trip Destinations for Family Fun 

By Brandy Gleason of Gleason Family Adventure 

The rural Midwest is a treasure trove of scenic landscapes, quaint towns and hidden gems, perfect for an unforgettable road trip. Spanning across several states, this region boasts serene countryside, historic landmarks and a rich tapestry of cultures waiting to be explored. Here are nine captivating Midwest road trip destinations that promise an immersive experience and a perfect road trip! 

1. Door County, Wisconsin

Door County, on the shores of Lake Michigan, offers a picturesque escape with its charming coastal villages, orchards and vineyards. The scenic byways unveil stunning waterfront vistas and lighthouses dotting the shoreline. Visitors can explore Peninsula State Park, indulge in cherry picking or wander through art galleries and boutiques in towns like Ephraim and Fish Creek. 

2. The Great River Road, Iowa 

Follow the meandering Mississippi River along the Great River Road in Iowa, renowned for its scenic beauty and historic significance. This route unveils stunning bluffs, charming river towns like Dubuque and Davenport, and opportunities for boating, birdwatching and exploring historic sites like the Effigy Mounds National Monument
Tip: Plan on taking your time and stopping at many of the small towns and gorgeous views along the way. 

3. Ozarks, Missouri

Experience the enchanting landscapes of the Ozarks in Missouri, characterized by rolling hills, lush forests and crystal-clear streams. The region offers outdoor adventures like hiking the Ozark Trail, exploring caves in Mark Twain National Forest or enjoying the vibrant music scene in Branson. 
Tip: Lakes, shows and entertainment await in these beautiful mountains. A stay here should be at least 3-5 days to take in the beauty and fun. 

4. Black Hills, South Dakota 

Journey through the Black Hills, a captivating region home to iconic landmarks like Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Explore the scenic drives of Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road, hike through Custer State Park and discover the natural beauty of Badlands National Park
Tip: Visit Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok’s graves in Deadwood, tour a gold mine, then try your hand at mining for gold, and stay at one of the KOA campgrounds for a relaxed trip. 

5. The Driftless Area: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa & Illinois

Uncover the unique geological features of the Driftless Area, characterized by its rugged terrain, deep river valleys and limestone bluffs. Traverse the scenic routes, visit charming towns like Decorah in Iowa or Lanesboro in Minnesota and indulge in outdoor activities like kayaking, hiking trails and exploring Amish communities. 

6. The Great Lakes Circle Tour, Michigan

Embark on the Great Lakes Circle Tour in Michigan, exploring the stunning coastlines of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Traverse the Upper Peninsula, visit Mackinac Island, explore Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and savor the local cuisine and culture in charming lakeside towns. Of all road trips in the Midwest, this one will take you through some of the Midwest's most stunning views and small towns. 

Tip: Stay on Mackinac Island, where time seems to stand still. Visitors will notice there are no cars on the island, and horses still play a crucial role. Make sure to try some of the fantastic fudge made famous on the iconic Main Street. 

7. Nebraska Sandhills

Discover the tranquil beauty of the Nebraska Sandhills, a vast expanse of grass-stabilized sand dunes. Enjoy the scenic drives along Highway 2, immerse yourself in the serene landscapes of the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway and experience the cowboy culture in towns like Valentine. 
Tip: Be prepared to be amazed. What makes this area come alive is the rich history and beauty that will take you by surprise.  

8. Mississippi River Valley, Minnesota

Explore the picturesque Mississippi River Valley in Minnesota, offering stunning bluffs, charming river towns like Red Wing and Winona and opportunities for birdwatching, kayaking and exploring historic sites such as the Frontenac State Park
Tip: This is a bird lover paradise; bring your binoculars and your life list along to check off some of your missing specimens. 

9. Quaint Amish Communities, Ohio & Indiana

Experience the simplicity and charm of Amish communities in Ohio and Indiana. Explore towns like Shipshewana in Indiana or Berlin in Ohio; purchase 100 Things to Do in Ohio’s Amish Country Before You Die before going to learn about the best stops to cross off your bucket list! You can immerse yourself in Amish culture, visit farmers' markets and enjoy handmade crafts and traditional cuisine in both of these charming areas. 
Tip: Plan on no less than three days in both areas, eat in an Amish home, take a buggy ride and buy an heirloom to treasure for years to come.  

Why Choose the Midwest for Your Family Road Trip? 

A road trip through the rural Midwest promises a blend of natural beauty, cultural richness and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Each destination offers its own unique allure, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in the heartland of America. Whether it's scenic drives, outdoor adventures or cultural exploration, the Midwest beckons with its unassuming yet captivating attractions. 
Need more Midwest road trip ideas? Head over to my website or follow me on social media!