10 of the Midwest’s Best Vacation Destinations

World-class attractions, rich history, live entertainment and scenic shoreline backdrops; the Midwest has it all. Here’s a round-up of some of the best vacation destinations in the heartland:

Illinois

Situated along Lake Michigan, Chicago boasts world-renown restaurants, museums, theater, sports and entertainment. Tourists flock to the popular Navy Pier, a 3,300-foot long pier on the shoreline of Lake Eerie, for live music, shopping, beer gardens and dining cruises.

Photo of Chicago by mindfrieze via Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin

Once a wealthy resort for Chicago families after the Civil War, Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva features historic mansions and a 21-mile Shore Path around the lake and golf resorts. Spend your vacation on a scenic shore cruise, at the Geneva Lake Museum, zip lining or at a day spa.

Photo by Royakbroil via Wikimedia Commons

Embraced as “The Waterpark Capital of the World”, Wisconsin Dells  also draws spring breakers for its roller coaters, haunted houses, festivals and golf. Among the impressive attractions is a 200,000 square foot indoor and outdoor waterpark.

Missouri

Rent a boat at one of the dozens of marinas, hit the golf course or stroll the “Strip” for candy, fudge and souvenirs. Located in central Missouri, Lake of the Ozarks spans 1,150 miles of shoreline and was formed in 1931 after the historic Bagnell Dam was completed.

Photo by James Carr via Wikimedia Commons

Dubbed Paris of the Plains, Kansas City has more boulevards than Paris and more working fountains than anywhere else but Rome. Topping the list of favorite places to visit in Missouri’s largest city is the Arabia Steamboat Museum and Country Club Plaza retail district. Kansas City boasts the best in barbecue, as well as hopping jazz and bebop venues.

Iowa

Okoboji takes its namesake from the West Okoboji Lake in the Iowa Great Lakes region. Explore wildlife preserves and parks, boat the Great Lakes or play a round of golf. Stop by Arnold’s Amusement Park for roller coasters, go karts and carnival games.

Ohio

The northern Ohio city of Sandusky is best known as the roller coaster capital of the world with Cedar Point amusement park. It’s southern Lake Erie shores were also a safe haven for runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad.

Photo by Dave Herholz via Wikimedia Commons

Michigan

The shores of Lake Michigan cradle Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Bluffs tower some 450-feet above Lake Michigan for sensational views across the water. Visitors come both for the sloping bluffs and the 35-miles of sandy beaches.

Traverse City normally holds a population of roughly 14,000 that skyrockets to more than 500,000 during the National Cherry Festival. During the annual event, Lake Michigan serves as a backdrop against live entertainment, crafts and games.

Photo of Mackinac Island by Notorious4life via Wikimedia Commons

Voted one of the world’s top 10 islands by Condé Nast Traveler, Mackinac Island in Michigan transports visitors by ferry to the island for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and water sports. An automobile ban in 1898 still stands leaving foot, horse or bicycle as primary means of transportation.