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Looking for some ideas on family weekend getaways in the Midwest? You’re in the right place!
Believe it or not, the Midwestern United States is home to some of the best family vacation spots in the country. The Midwest is made up of states like Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri – each of which is filled with tons of exciting activities and hidden gems just waiting to be explored!
There are cities with lots to do, beaches with fresh water, and places to get away from it all in nature. And whether you’re planning a trip with a young child, a group of moody teenagers, or your grandparents, the best Midwest vacations have something for everyone, no matter their age or interests.
The Best Destinations for Family Weekend Getaways in the Midwest
What can a family do on a trip to the Midwest? Just to start, how about amazing playgrounds, fireworks, aquariums, water parks, and model trains? These trips are a great way to make new family memories and help the next generation fall in love with the Midwest.
9. Galena, Illinois
Galena is full of old buildings from before the Civil War. Our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, even lived there!
Don’t be fooled—the town in the beautiful hills has been brought up to date. There are museums and parks, of course, but there’s also skiing, ghost tours, candy shops, and some pretty great popcorn and root beer.
If someone can watch the kids, mom and dad can sneak away to go to a winery or distillery and try some of their products!
For a family weekend in the big city, keep driving just a few hours east and spend a weekend family getaway in Chicago.
8. Keystone, South Dakota
Mount Rushmore is one of the most famous landmarks in the United States. It is in the town of Keystone, which is in the Black Hills.
Rapid City is close by, so there are many hotels and things to do. Rapid City is also a great option for families on a budget looking for cheap family weekend getaways.
At Rush Mountain Adventure Park, you can zipline through the woods, go on a four-hour gold panning tour along the river, learn about the long history of mining, or go through caves and fly down a gravity-driven coaster.
There are plenty of places to stay, but renting a quiet cabin might be the most relaxing for the whole family.
7. Mall of America, Minnesota
The Mall of America in Bloomington takes shopping to a whole new level, making it feel more like a day at a theme park.
Seriously, if you’ve never been, it’s bigger than you thought. It could take you several days to see all the displays, rides, and unique shops. In fact, the mall has the biggest indoor theme park in the country, with a Ferris wheel, a free-fall ride, and a roller coaster. There is also an aquarium, black light mini-golf, and a movie theater, among many other things.
Over 50 restaurants, including popular US chains like Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Cinnabon, and Hard Rock Cafe, mix with cafes, snack shacks, international dining, and locally-owned restaurants to create the ultimate foodie environment.
This mall brings together so many well-known things about the U.S. under one roof.
6. Branson, Missouri
Branson is full of mountains, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. There are lots of family-friendly things to do there. It’s the perfect place for adventurous outdoor families who want to fly 170 feet in the air on the Vigilante Extreme Ziprider and for those who just want to relax.
You could spend one day at one of the many theaters with acrobatic shows and Broadway musicals, and the next day at museums that will be very interesting to the kids.
One has toys from the past to the present, while the huge Titanic boat place has real artifacts from the wreckage that are worth millions of dollars.
Then there’s the western fun of Dolly Parton, Silver Dollar City’s rides, shops, and places to stay like the Welk Resorts Branson Hotel, which has an indoor lagoon-style pool with a winding water slide.
There are a lot of diners, pizza places, burger joints, and barbecue places downtown. You can also find interesting winery restaurants and places to eat more upscale food.
5. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
In the bottom-west corner of North Dakota, there are beautiful prairies and painted canyons. The former president used to live in this area, and his cabin, Maltese Cross, is still there.
Medora is a small town in the Badlands. It is home to many of the park’s best attractions, like the 36-mile Scenic Loop Drive, which is a great way to get an overview. A trip to Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of the best types of family vacations to take for nature lovers looking for an outdoor vacation in nature!
Little cowboys and cowgirls will love the western feel of Medora, and both the Rough Riders Hotel and the Badlands Motel are close to important historical sites and museums.
Theodore’s Dining Room is part of the rustic yet elegant Rough Riders Hotel. It is a classy place to enjoy western food and take in the scenic surrounding sights.
4. Mackinac Island, Michigan
For family weekend getaways in the Midwest on the beach, Mackinac Island is a nice place to get away from the modern world. It is in the electric-colored waters of Lake Huron. Fine inns and grand hotels have been frozen in time and still have the polished charm of the past.
Since there are no cars, the family will have to walk or ride their bikes to get to the many restaurants, which include Italian chop houses, barbecue joints, high-end restaurants, and simple cafes.
There is a lot of military history here, so you could spend a day learning about it. But whether people take a tour by kayak, paddle board, or on foot, they will see beautiful rock formations, wildlife, caves, and lighthouses.
But above all else, you have to try the fudge at Sanders Candies, which has a great selection and also sells a great fudge ice cream.
3. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
When you think of Wisconsin, islands are probably not the first thing that comes to mind. However, there are some strange bits of land that float in Lake Superior near the mainland. The national lakeshore area is made up of the edges of the state and 21 islands.
On Madeline Island, where Big Bay State Park is, there are a few places to stay, such as Ferry Landing Suites, Island Inn, and Inn on Madeline Island.
But on the mainland, across the ferry, there are a lot of places to stay. Guests can take boat tours to see rocky beaches, mysterious caves, and wildlife, all of which are surrounded by clear blue water.
In all of the parks, there are hiking trails that go along the shoreline and are beautiful in both summer and winter.
2. Dubuque, Iowa
Dubuque is a great place for an outdoor vacation because it is on the Mississippi River. The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium is near the moving water and is a great place to learn about science and history through artifacts. It is also a great place to see interesting sea life.
You can spend all day walking along the beautiful Riverwalk or learning about nature and history at the Mines of Spain Recreation Area, where hiking trails lead to scenic overlooks.
In Dubuque, there are always ways for families to get outside. There are botanical gardens, the mysterious Crystal Lake Cave, and many boat tours. But when it’s raining, you can go to the popcorn shop or one of the other cozy places to eat.
Sundown Mountain is a great place to ski in the winter because it has terrain for skiers of all skill levels.
1. Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City is also known for being a great destination for a family weekend getaway in the Midwest that’s perfect for foodies. Most people don’t plan to spend a vacation day going to barbecue restaurants, but in Kansas City, where the meat is known for being tender and tangy, you should! The Original KC Barbecue Tour takes people to the best places to eat and also shows them some of the city’s history.
There are lots of things for kids to do in Kansas City, from sea life exhibits to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center.
Parents can teach their kids while everyone is having fun at cool airplane, steamboat, and history museums.
But Kansas City is also known for its music scene, both now and in the past, and for its many beautiful fountains.
Now that you know all our top 9 picks for the best family weekend getaways in the Midwest – where will you head to first?