Family Fun in the Midwest
Forget the stereotypes of the staid Midwest. You’ll find thrills aplenty here, from Chicago’s Tilt on the observation deck of the John Hancock Center to the slippery slides of the Wisconsin Dells. Slow things down in small towns in Iowa and discover eerie solitude in North Dakota’s badlands.
Jump to a State
You couldn’t pack more family fun into Chicago if you tried. From Wrigley Field to the Shedd Aquarium to the Museum of Science and Industry, there’s something for everyone. Stroll along the soaring skyscrapers of Michigan Avenue or take a family selfie in the mirrored Cloud Gate sculpture (a.k.a. “The Bean”) in Millennium Park. Beyond Chi-Town, you can walk in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln with a stop in Springfield, and find the state’s natural side with a visit to Starved Rock State Park.
Iowa is a haven in the heartland. Baseball fans will want to run the bases at the Field of Dreams site in Dyersville. While in the capital city of Des Moines, visit the quirky Pappajohn Sculpture Park for fun family photo ops. Fill up on funnel cakes and catch a spin on the Ferris wheel during the Iowa State Fair held each August. Visit Dubuque’s National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium to learn about this mighty waterway.
A visit to the Land of 10,000 Lakes isn’t complete without spending some time waterside. Take a scenic drive along the North Shore, hike to the roaring waterfalls in Gooseberry Falls State Park, or paddle through the Chain of Lakes for the perfect Minnesota adventures. For a completely different kind of scenery, head to the massive Mall of America. Teens will want to hit the shops, while youngsters will love the indoor amusement park, Nickelodeon Universe.
Find great family fun in the Great Plains. Omaha is a top destination with a zoo, children’s museum, botanical garden and more. Go back to pioneer days at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, or visit one of the state’s historic Oregon Trail sites. Kids who love planes, trains and autos will want to visit Lincoln’s Museum of American Speed, North Platte’s Union Pacific Railway Yard, or Ashland’s Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum.
Enjoy the wide-open spaces of North Dakota. The painted hills of Theodore Roosevelt National Park make it a top choice in the state for outdoor adventures. Watch for buffalo, prairie dogs, and more wildlife galore with a scenic drive or hike. To learn about the park’s namesake, catch the Medora Musical. This high-energy show is set against a lovely landscape. Head to Bismark or Fargo for lots of options for family fun.
Badlands, bison and the Black Hills are just part of the bounty you’ll find in South Dakota. A family hike as the sun sets is a great way to explore the Badlands National Park. Set your gaze on American presidents with a stop at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and then watch for wildlife as you drive through the rolling green hills of Custer State Park. The Ingalls Homestead in De Smet transports you back to pioneer days, making it a popular stop for families.
From scenic state parks to wild waterslides, the lovely state of Wisconsin is a fun family destination. Your kids will love exploring the waterways of the Great Lakes or the many waterparks of the Dells. Head to Milwaukee for big-city entertainment, including the Harley-Davidson Museum. Football fans won’t want to leave the state without a stop at Lambeau Field, home to the Green Bay Packers.
The whole family will love getting closer to Mother Nature in Manitoba. Churchill is known for its spectacular wildlife viewing, so keep your eyes peeled for bison, birds, beluga whales and polar bears. Parks like Riding Mountain, Grand Beach, Birds Hill, and Asessippi entice visitors with its trails and boating opportunities. Every July, Winnipeg hosts the Fringe Theatre Festival, the second largest of its kind in North America.