Midwest Summer Road Trips

I am sharing great summer getaways for all my midwesterners today. A few of these bigger city getaways might be better to save for your 2021 bucket list when social distancing has settled down but many of them focus on outdoor activities that will still be possible with CoronaVirus restrictions. 

  1. The Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Photo by Karl’s Bait and Tackle

The Ozarks is the perfect summer getaway, I am daydreaming about it now. Enjoy boating, tubing, fishing, golfing and relaxing. It is the perfect summer escape for the whole family or a group of friends and it is super accessible for so many mid-western states. (Also, if you are watching the show Ozark, the city is nowhere near as dingy or spooky as they paint it out to be, it is truly beautiful)

  1. The Wisconsin Dells, WS
Photo by AmeriCash Loans

The Wisconsin Dells is the Disneyland of the midwest and now that I live in California, no one has heard of it and it blows my mind! The Wisconsin Dells is a city of waterparks and water resorts. I have many great memories with my family enjoying these waterparks. You can take wild water slides from one building to another on the resort or you can spend the day floating the lazy river. It is one of those trips where if you invest in a great place to stay, you’ll end up not spending much money on the rest of the trip because you are so entertained with all the hotel has to offer.

  1. Chicago, IL
Photo by

Chicago just has everything to offer. You can check out my full blog post about a weekend getaway in Chicago here. In Chicago you could see a Cubs game, visit a museum, go to the Zoo, lay by the beach, take boat tours off the pier and eat a lot of great Pizza!

  1. Branson, MO
Photo by

Branson is similar to the lake of the Ozarks except Branson has less of a natural outdoorsy feel and more of a touristy city to enjoy. If you are looking for a lake trip where you don’t get bored sitting around a campfire or playing cards at night, you should choose Branson over the Ozarks and enjoy some time at adventuring the city’s Table Rock Lake and the Giant Go Kart track pictured here.

  1. Grand Haven, MI
Photo by Visit Grand Haven

In the summers, Grand Haven is like the Florida of the mid-west. White sand beaches, quaint small towns, you feel like you have been tossed back in time and all you need is a giant sun hat. I highly recommend Grand Haven if you are traveling from Ohio, Indiana or other areas of Michigan but if you are not in one of these states, it may become too long of a road trip.

  1. Omaha, NE
Photo by Nebraska Traveler

The best thing about Omaha in the summer? The Omaha Zoo! If you ask anyone from Omaha what their city is famous for it is the Zoo and the College World Series. It is a great place for a young family or even a cute short couples weekend. Spend the day at the Zoo and walk through the Old Market at night and it’ll be a summer trip to remember!

  1. Kansas City, KS
Photo by Visit KC

Kansas City has lots of attractions, you can stroll and shop the plaza and drink at Power and Light or Westport by night if you are traveling with girlfriends. If you are with family I would recommend staying closer to the west end of Kansas City (Kansas City, KS) and enjoying Top Golf and a Royal’s baseball game. Note that this photo is taken around Christmas time when the Plaza is lit up for the Holidays, however, it is beautiful year round,

  1. Milwaukee, WS
Photo by Travel Wisconsin

Brewery tour by day, Brewers baseball game by night, what could possibly go wrong? Milwalkee is another midwest city bordering Lake Michigan so there are lots of great lake activities to enjoy by day and shows, food and entertainment by night.

  1. Minneapolis, MN
Photo by Smarter Travel

Minneapolis has an abundance of parks, small lakes, and the Mississippi runs right through the city. You could stroll the parks, rent kayaks, or if you get bored of the outdoors it is a short drive to the Mall of America which is also a hop, skip, and a jump from Valleyfair amusement park.

  1. Madison, WS
Photo by Wisconsin Meetings

I found Madison, WS to be a very enchanting city. Everything about it was cute and picturesque. The city is centered on a lake, the UW campus backing right up to the lake. State street leads you towards the beautiful state capitol. I haven’t visited the Botanical Gardens in Madison before but they have great reviews so I thought I would mention them as an option for your trip too!

  1. Lake Okaboji, IA
Photo by Lincoln Journal Star

I couldn’t complete my list without at least one Iowa destination (Iowa is where I was born and raised) so I will end my suggestions with Lake Okoboji. I have fond memories of a few family trips to Lake Okoboji where we would rent cabins or stay at family friend’s lake houses (which you can likely airBNB) and spend the days kayaking, boating, fishing and discovering new adventures. If you’re a northern midwesterner, Okoboji may be a great choice over one of the Missouri lakes for a shorter road trip where you can spend more time in the sun.

I hope this post sparked some fun, cheap weekend trip ideas for your families or friends. I know that traveling this summer will be very different and some of the things I mentioned on this list like the Wisconsin Dells or professional baseball games may not be an option until 2021. This is why I kept the Lake of the Ozarks as my #1 recommendation on the list. There are other great lake trips your family could enjoy while still social distancing throughout the midwest such as Winona or Door County that I hadn’t visited so I did not include them here. If you have visited these, which destination is your favorite?

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