5 family-friendly Midwest vacation spots you can drive to

Written by: Amanda Simkin

Family-friendly vacation spots in the Midwest.
Photo: South Haven, Michigan
You know the saying “Midwest is best?” Well, if you ask me, the Midwest truly shines in the summermonths…the glistening lakes, wealth of greenery, and tons of unique places to relax and unwind. It’s a complete 180 from the harsh winter months that we suffer through.
That’s why we always plan a Midwestern summer family vacation. We can avoid the drama and expenses involved with an airline flight, support local businesses and keep our money in the hardworking Midwest. And, I’m not going to lie….it is VERY hard to resist Tim Allen and his “Pure Michigan” commercials.
Are you looking for some great family-friendly vacation spots in the Midwest? Then look no further than this list:
Coloma, Michigan: This small town is nestled between St. Joseph and South Haven so you can explore the benefits of both areas when staying in Coloma. Typically we would spend our vacation beach and park hopping since there are so many to choose from, enjoying bonfires and spiced up s’mores every chance we get. Highlights include berry picking, old fashioned carousels, wineries and Silver Lake beach. 
Driving time: 2–3 hours
Long Beach, Indiana: Splashing around on the shores of Long Beach truly makes Lake Michigan feel like an ocean. And when you are sick of swimming, explore the gorgeous sand dunes throughout the area. We especially love taking a trip to Long Beach because it is so close that we can make a day trip out of it. We recommend going on a Saturday since Sunday traffic can be pretty brutal.
Driving time: 1–1.5 hours
North Shore, Minnesota: Although this is the farthest destination on the list, one could argue that it is the most fabulous. Why? Two words: whale watching. Yep, you and your family can partake in whale watching on the north shore of Lake Superior. There are tons of lodges and resorts to choose from, and other highlights include hiking, waterfalls, state parks…the options are endless.
Driving time: 7–8 hours
Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Ever notice the Sheboygan shout-out in Home Alone? It was probably because  of its wide array of family-friendly activities like interactive water fountains, children’s museums, and a gorgeous lighthouse pier, in addition to the popular Blue Harbor Resort. Even if you are renting a house in Sheboygan, be sure to get a day pass for the indoor waterpark at Blue Harbor-you won’t be disappointed! Also, don’t miss out on taking a short drive to the American Club and dining at either the Horse and Plow (casual, great food for all ages) or getting some ice cream from their beautiful garden ice cream fountain. Interested in larger waterparks? Then simply drive a little further to the top resorts in the Dells.
Driving time: 2.5–3 hours
Starved Rock, Illinois: There is no question as to why Starved Rock is the top attraction in Illinois. It is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Set up camp or rent your own cabin while exploring all the Starved Rock has to offer: fishing, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, bird watching, small town shopping and local wineries…what more can you ask for?
Driving time: 2 hours
I do understand if palm trees are calling your name, and if that is the case, here are some great tropical locales for Chicagoland families, as well as some tips for navigating your way through Chicagoland’s airports.
Amanda Simkin, a lifelong Chicagoan, created her blog (queenofthelandoftwigsnberries.com) to share how she celebrates motherhood in Chicago. She offers “insider’s guides” for both well-known and off-the-beaten-path family-friendly gems. Her fans include Red Tricycle Chicago and Chicago Parent Magazine.


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Posted on May 23, 2016 at 11:01 AM