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1. Chicago, IL
Chicago is one of the largest cities in the United States and has almost 2.7 million people living there. It is located in northern Illinois right on the coast of beautiful Lake Michigan. The city is known for its architecture, museums, and amazing food. Chicago also features Chicago style hot dogs, Chicago-style pizza, jazz music, and loyal sports fans. I have been to Chicago many times and it never gets old. There is so much to do and see in Chicago that it would take you an entire week (if not more) to truly feel like you have seen and done everything you could in the city. The restaurants in Chicago are top-notch and there are so many choices of fantastic restaurants. This makes it difficult to even choose where you want to eat. Chicago is my #1 ranking for this Top 5 weekend Getaways in the Midwest blog post.
Although this was difficult to narrow down, I have included some of the “can’t miss” attractions while visiting Chicago:
This highly rated attraction will give you a comprehensive tour of Chicago’s architecture from the best seat in the house: the river. Enjoy a live guide while you navigate through the heart of the city covering all 3 branches of the Chicago River.
This attraction is your ticket to an exhilarating view of Chicago from the top of the Willis Tower. Ride 103 floors up to the SkyDeck and test your braveness by stepping out onto The Ledge, a glass-paneled box with vertical views to the ground below.
The Navy Pier is one of the top attractions in Chicago. This attraction allows you to soar to heights of nearly 200 feet over the Navy Pier and see the city through incredible 360 degree views.
2. Mackinaw Island, MI
Mackinaw Island sits in between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsula’s in the middle of Lake Huron. This island is a very relaxing vacation spot and includes fine dining, top attractions, and historical sites (such as Fort Mackinac). It is famous for its “Mackinaw Island Fudge”, which you can watch them make from outside the shop windows. The best way to get to Mackinaw Island is by ferry, and the island is unique in the fact that it does not allow cars on the island. The main source of transportation on the island includes horses and bikes. I visit Mackinaw Island almost every year, and it is definitely one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I have ever been. These are a few of the reasons why I give Mackinaw Island my #2 ranking on this “To 5 Weekend Getaways in the Midwest” blog post.
Here are some of the top attractions you can do while on Mackinaw Island:
Visit and stay at The Grand Hotel:
The Grand Hotel first opened in 1887 and housed visitors who traveled to Michigan by train, and went to Mackinaw Island by boat. Today, The Grand Hotel is a national historic landmark that continues to house guests using old-world hospitality and charm. Don’t miss staying at the Grand Hotel while on the island!
Ride Bikes Around the Island:
One of the top attractions on the island is riding bikes all the way around. The car-free trek is approximately 8.2 miles on M-185 and there are many places to stop along the way to hike, have a picnic, or just enjoy the beautiful views. It will take approximately 1.5 hours to bike around the entire island without stopping. You can rent a bike on the island, or bring your own via the ferry.
Take a visit to the oldest building in Michigan that was built on the northern tip of the lower peninsula of the present-day state of Michigan. This fort was founded during the American Revolution. It was an 18th century French (and later British) fort and trading post on the Straits of Mackinac. They even do reenactments and shoot off “cannons” that you can hear around the island.
3. Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis (or Indy) is the state capital and the most-populous city of Indiana. Although Indianapolis is most known for the Indy-500 race, there are many other reasons to still take a visit to the city. Indianapolis is home to four major national sports teams: the Indianapolis Colts (NFL), the Indiana Pacers (NBA), the Indiana Fever (WNBA), and the Indy Eleven (USL). Another top event that Indianapolis holds every year is the Big10 Championship football game. Although I have visited Indy four times now, I still feel like there is so much to see and do that I haven’t had a chance to partake in. The nightlife in Indy is awesome, and the restaurants are always amazing. There is no shortage of things to do while visiting this city. I don’t think there is a question that Indianapolis is one of the top 5 weekend getaways in the Midwest.
Take a look at some of my favorite Indy attractions below:
This neighborhood is well-known for its restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment. There are several galleries, a craft cocktail bar, music venues, and even a retro dance club. The Fountain square also hosts comedy shows, improv nights, and indie music concerts. This is definitely the “place to be” if you are looking for fun entertainment and great nightlife.
The children’s museum in Indianapolis is the largest children’s museum in the world. They just made it even bigger by adding a 7.5-acre outdoor health and fitness area that encourages activity through multiple sports. The Children’s Museum holds over 500,000 square feet of exhibits and activities that are fun for all ages. The museum explores the physical and natural sciences, history, world culture, and the arts through interactive exhibits on five floors.
4. Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids has a population of 200,000 and is located on the West side of Michigan. Sitting along the Grand River, Grand Rapids is the economic and cultural hub of West Michigan. It is also one of the fastest growing cities in the Midwest. Some of the nicknames that this city has include “Beer City USA”, “Furniture City”, and “River City”. President Gerald R. Ford grew up in Grand Rapids, and there is a museum named after him where he and his wife were both laid to rest. There are endless amounts of restaurants, bars, and entertainment to last you more than one weekend in Grand Rapids. Take a drive about 20 miles West and you will run into the beautiful beaches on Lake Michigan; a fun day-trip when visiting this gorgeous city.
Frederick Meijer Gardens is a combination botanical garden and sculpture park. It features exotic plants, desert and Victorian gardens, wetlands, meadows, and famous artwork throughout. It also has a seasonal butterfly garden where you can walk in and have the butterflies fly around you and land on you. A beautiful place to visit!
This museum will take you through the life and times of Gerald R. Ford, Michigan’s only President. There are documents, artifacts, photographs, and videos that combine to tell the dramatic story of the Ford Presidency that took place in the mid-1970’s.
5. Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City lies east of Black Hills National Forest and it is sometimes called “the gateway to Mt. Rushmore” (the massive iconic sculpture of four US Presidents). It is also often called the “City of Presidents” since it is so close to Mount Rushmore. Although I have never been here, it is definitely on my bucket list and I would love to take a weekend road trip to South Dakota!
The area’s Top Attraction:
This tour will bring you around the most famous sites of the Black Hills, including Custer State Park, The Crazy Horse Memorial, the Iron Mountain Road, and Mount Rushmore. This tour is highly rated and is one of the top attractions that gives you the ability to see as much as you can in a short amount of time.
Each of these cities are great weekend getaways for the whole family. Although they are all famous for individual things, the most common denominator they all have is great food, great drinks, and plenty of entertainment and attractions for everyone to enjoy. This blog post contains only a few of the many reasons why these cities are included in my “Top 5 Weekend getaways in the Midwest” blog post.
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