Are you looking for some of the very best weekend getaways in the Midwest? Luckily for you, you don’t have to go far to find some pretty amazing places!
The Midwest region of the United States may not be as well-known for its vacation spots as some other parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
From charming small towns and scenic state parks to bustling cities and lakeside resorts, the Midwest has something to offer everyone!
Whether you’re in search of a romantic weekend away with your significant other, a fun family vacation, or just a way to get out of the daily grind, heading out on one of these great weekend getaways can help leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
So hop in the car and get ready to head out for some of the very best Midwest weekend getaways!
Best Midwest Weekend Getaways
Below are the best weekend getaways spread out throughout the Midwest. There are so many beautiful places to visit that it may be hard to choose!
1. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a stunning destination located on the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The area is well-known for its towering sandstone cliffs that rise dramatically above the blue waters of the Great Lake.
The contrasts between the orange sandstone and the blue lake are amazing, and one of the biggest reasons why people from all over the Midwest travel here!
You can wander around the area on foot and explore the hiking trails, which lead you to viewpoints overlooking the lake. Or, you can get out onto the water itself and wander into the caves that have formed underneath the cliffs. You can either use your own sea kayak or rent from a local outfitter.
There are also a few small waterfalls nearby that are worth checking out, Munising Falls and Miners Falls. Along with that, there are some sandy beaches that make for the perfect spots to sit back and relax on your getaway.
2. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is on most people’s bucket lists for places to visit, and you can easily reach it and make it a great weekend getaway in the Midwest. Nicknamed the Windy City, Chicago has plenty to do for all visitors.
You can take a stroll along the famous Navy Pier and catch a glimpse of the stunning city skyline, or head to Millennium Park to see the iconic Bean. These are must-dos while in Chicago!
Another great activity is to head up into the Willis Tower and face your fears as you wander out over a glass box to admire the city below your feet. You’ll be over 100 stories up and standing on a glass panel to look below!
And of course, no trip to Chicago is complete without trying its famous deep-dish pizza. You can find somewhere to find this delicious food on nearly every corner of the city.
Along with all of this, Chicago has the same great benefits as many other big cities have, such as endless shopping and great food.
Chicago is the biggest city in the Midwest, and you’ll find no shortage of things to keep you busy here!
3. Duluth, Minnesota
As the gateway to one of the best places to explore in Minnesota, a trip to Duluth has a lot to offer visitors. From amazing hikes and waterfalls to delicious foods and great shopping, there’s something for everyone!
Start your visit to Duluth in Canal Park, where you’ll find delicious restaurants and food at places like Grandma’s Saloon and Vitta Pizza. You can also check out views of the amazing Aerial Lift Bridge here. Walk along Lake Superior’s shoreline and walk out to the Breakwater lighthouse. If you’re visiting during the summer, you have to grab a malt at the Portland Malt Shoppe! In the winter, check out the Bentleyville Tour of Lights.
After you’ve spent some time in Duluth, make your way up the North Shore. Follow the North Shore Scenic Highway and gaze out your window at the mighty Lake Superior.
Make stops at the North Shore’s 8 state parks, especially Tettegouche, Split Rock, and Gooseberry Falls! Hikers and outdoors lovers will feel right at home here. Booking a stay at the lakeside resorts nearby makes for the best way to explore.
No matter what you do, spending a weekend in Duluth is a perfect choice!
4. Mackinac Island, Michigan
Reachable by boat, Mackinac Island is located in the far northern part of Michigan and is a unique place to spend your weekend.
Once you arrive, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time, thanks to the island’s ban on cars – transportation is limited to bicycles, horse-drawn carriages, and your own two feet.
Take a stroll down the quaint streets, wander into the local shops, and grab a bite to eat at one of the small eateries. Testing out the fudge is a must-do, and you can find it all along Main Street.
Of course, you should explore Mackinac Island State Park, which makes up nearly all of the island. Arch Rock is found within the park, and makes you feel like you’re right in Arches National Park in Utah!
You can also take a carriage ride throughout the island through one of the tour companies.
5. Minneapolis, Minnesota
As the largest city in Minnesota, a visit to Minneapolis will provide you with plenty to do on your vacation.
One of the best parts of Minneapolis is its park system, which allows you to get outside without leaving the city. From small parks like Theodore Wirth Regional Park to larger ones like Fort Snelling State Park, you can escape the busyness of the city for a hike or to just get outdoors.
Aside from the outdoors, you can also wander around Downtown Minneapolis, which boasts some of the greatest entertainment venues around. Watch a concert at First Avenue or a Broadway production at the Orpheum Ordway Theaters. And be sure to catch a sports game at US Bank Stadium, Target Field, or one of the other stadiums. There are also a lot of really gorgeous boutique hotels in Downtown Minneapolis to visit.
If you’re interested in the arts, Minneapolis has plenty of museums to check out, including the Walker Art Center and the outdoor Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
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6. Custer State Park, South Dakota
Custer State Park, located in the stunning Black Hills of South Dakota, is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts.
Spanning over 71,000 acres, the park is home to an array of wildlife, including bison, pronghorns, elk, and bighorn sheep. Visitors can explore the park’s diverse terrain on foot or by car, with hiking trails winding through the hills and scenic drives offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
A drive along the Needles Highway will be one of the most unique drives you take, as you’ll need to pass through several tunnels that almost look like you won’t fit! But this is all part of the great experience, and there are plenty of hiking trails to stop at along the way.
If you have time, sit back and relax near Sylvan Lake, which is also surrounded by towering rock formations. This is one of the most beautiful places in South Dakota, and is so worth spending some time at!
Depending on where you’re coming from, you could also make stops at Mount Rushmore or Badlands National Park along the way!
7. Medora, North Dakota
Medora is a small town nestled in the heart of North Dakota’s Badlands. It’s a charming town with plenty to do for visitors.
It acts as the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where you’ll find roaming bison, chirping groundhogs, and endless views of rock formations and towering Badlands. While you’re in Medora, be sure to take a scenic drive or a hike through the national park!
Wander through the streets of Medora, which are full of small shops to purchase souvenirs, old Western-themed restaurants, and spots to learn about the history of the small town.
In the evening, catch a performance at the Medora Musical, a lively outdoor show that celebrates the town’s Western heritage and pays tribute to the legendary Theodore Roosevelt.
8. Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio
Nestled in the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park is somewhere that you wouldn’t expect to find in the Midwest!
With towering cliffs and gorges, plunging waterfalls, and hiking trails galore, outdoor lovers will love this weekend trip in the Midwest.
One of the most popular places to visit in the park is Ash Cave, which is a massive cave-like rock overhang that is the largest rock shelter east of the Mississippi. You can wander into the cave and see the small waterfall that drops over the cliff.
Aside from Ash Cave, there are many other things to see in the park such as Cedar Falls and the Devil’s Bathtub.
You can also venture outside of the park and go boating or kayaking on the waterways nearby, visit Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve, or visit Lake Logan State Park.
9. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
Another great place to visit along the lakeshore of Lake Michigan is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, just outside of Traverse City.
This unique destination is surprising to find in Michigan but provides a great palace for family adventure and a great weekend getaway.
Wander along or relax on the seemingly endless miles of sandy beaches and dunes that stretch nearly 500 feet above Lake Michigan. You’ll be exhausted by the end of this trip because of how much work it takes to climb the dunes!
The contrast of the sand against the blue waters of the lake is magnificent, and by packing a blanket to lay down, you can sit back and admire the views and relax on the shores.
Aside from the sand dunes, you can get onto the water with a kayak or boat, see the island lighthouse found on the Manitou Islands, and see the picturesque covered bridge.
Overall, this relaxing destination is perfect for a family Midwest getaway!
10. Door County, Wisconsin
Located on a peninsula, jutting out into Lake Michigan is the small town of Door County. This charming town has plenty to offer to visitors.
From the picturesque lighthouses and sandy beaches to the quaint shops and delicious local restaurants, you’ll almost feel like you’re in a small town on a movie!
Enjoy the views of Lake Michigan during your visit, as it’s one of the most beautiful Great Lakes.
A visit to Peninsula State Park will showcase some of the amazing views of the cliffs that drop over the lake, and give you the chance to hit the hiking trails and explore. Cave Point County Park is another great place to check out the amazing nearby views.
Door County is also famous for its cherry orchards, so it’s a must to visit one! Both tart and sweet cherries are grown here, and you can pick your own and bring them home to snack on or back a yummy pie.
Whether you spend your days exploring the rugged coastline, hiking the scenic trails, or lounging on the beach, you’ll soon discover why Door County has become one of the most popular places to vacation in Wisconsin!
11. Branson, Missouri
This small, unexpecting town in southern Missouri is full of all sorts of charm and fun for visitors of all ages. Known as the ‘Live Entertainment Capital of the World,’ you’ll find no shortage of things to do here.
Branson boasts more than 100 live shows, ranging from country music and Broadway-style productions to magic shows and comedy acts. So no matter what you like, you’ll find something. There are over 45 theaters that host these incredible shows!
Aside from the shows, check out Silver Dollar City, an 1880s-themed amusement park that has some amazing thrill rides, as well as a waterpark, making it perfect for kids.
Wander around the Branson Boardwalk, which has an aquarium, shops, places to grab a bite to eat, and so much more.
While you wouldn’t usually expect so much from a small town in Missouri, Branson really breaks the mold!
12. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
If you’re looking for one of the best family Midwest weekend getaways, then heading to Wisconsin Dells is going to be perfect. With over 20 waterparks to check out, both indoor and outdoor, this town is a year-round destination for fun.
Kalahari is the largest indoor waterpark in Wisconsin, and Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park boasts America’s first rotating waterslide.
Noah’s Ark Waterpark is another popular outdoor waterpark, as is Wilderness Resort. Most of the resorts also offer other fun activities like arcades, mini golf, and some even have roller coasters to get an adrenaline rush on.
Thrill seekers and those looking to kick back and relax will find something for them here. Whether that be flying down the waterslides or chilling poolside with a drink in hand.
And aside from just the waterslides, Wisconsin Dells has amazing natural features such as rivers, gorges, and lakes to see during your visit.
13. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Just a short distance between Cleveland and Akron is Cuyahoga Valley National Park, famous for its waterfalls and gorges to wander through.
Wander through covered bridges, towering moss-covered gorges, and to plunging waterfalls as you explore this unique national park.
The most popular hiking trails include Cuyahoga Valley Ledges Trail, the Brandywine Gorge Trail, and Blue Hen Falls.
If you have some extra time, head into the city of Cleveland and see all that there is to do in one of Ohio’s largest cities.
14. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Minnesota’s only national park deserves a spot on this list of best Midwest weekend getaways because it provides visitors with an amazingly unique experience.
The park is nearly one-third water, so the best way to get around and really experience the park is to go on a boat. Whether that be kayaking, canoeing, or motorboat, it’s the only want to get to some of the best attractions!
On land, you can hike around the shoreline without a boat, or you can go to more secluded areas via boat and escape any people. Visiting the visitor centers will give you the best chance to see the best places to visit.
If you have a boat, get out and swim, fish, or just enjoy the water and get to know what Minnesota is all about. After all, with over 10,000 lakes, it’s only fitting that this national park has mostly water! Voyageurs is also amazing for viewing the northern lights.
You can also stay at one of the great nearby resorts to spend the entire weekend up in the Voyageurs National Park area.
15. Houghton, Michigan
If you’re traveling throughout the Midwest in the wintertime, then a visit to the city of Houghton in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will be the perfect destination.
With a ski resort and some of the best places to go snowmobiling, winter sports lovers will think that this is paradise.
Mont Ripley is the ski resort to visit, with nearly 25 runs and some great snow-making technology to enjoy this winter. And when it snows in the UP, snowmobilers will want to get out on the trails, because the ‘lake effect’ snow is very powdery and great for carving and enjoying the outdoors.
And during the summer, you’ll be just a short distance from the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, which has beautiful hiking.
This is also a launching point to reach Isle Royale, so if you’re wanting to visit this remote national park, you can get there from Houghton!
Houghton is an often overlooked town in Michigan, but can offer a lot to visitors during all seasons!
Wrap-Up: Weekend Getaways in the Midwest
Whoever said that the Midwest is just a flyover region clearly hasn’t seen all of these great activities that can be done in the area.
From large cities to wander through to towering rock formations that you could gaze at for hours, these weekend getaways in the Midwest are the perfect way to escape from the reality of life and enjoy this underrated US region.
No matter what you plan to do, each of these destinations provides everyone with plenty to do, lots to explore, and many memories to come home with.
Kassidy is a Minnesota native and loves to explore her home state, the North Shore, hiking, skiing, and anything outdoors. She also enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog, Kassidy’s Journey.