Is the East Coast too same-y and the West Coast too expensive? Why not try No Coast?
From the Dakotas to Michigan, the Midwest offers some of the country’s most scenic spots and exciting cultural destinations without the prices or the crowds of the major tourist hubs.
These unforgettable vacation spots in the midwest will have you rushing to the interior for your next vacation.
1. The Indiana Dunes
Sure, they call themselves Hoosiers, but the state is also home to an incredible beach destination.
The Indiana Dunes are located in Chesterton, Indiana and offer 15,000 acres of diverse ecosystems to explore. From beaches to dunes to woods, it’s the perfect place to escape and enjoy the wonders of Lake Michigan.
And it’s only two hours from bustling downtown Chicago, which offers plenty of access for those opting to fly in or a great escape from your city break.
2. Okoboji, Iowa
Okoboji offers family fun for everyone, and it’s where Iowans, Minnesotans, and even South Dakotans head for a retreat from the summer heat on the plains.
Known as the Iowa Great Lakes, Okoboji is recognized as one of the best lake towns in all of North America.
There’s plenty of lake to explore, a vintage theme park, and more restaurants and b&bs than you could ever visit.
3. Grand Marais, Minnesota
Grand Marais is the Midwest’s answer to Oregon and Washington’s scenic coastal byways. Located on the shores of Lake Superior, this small town is home to hippies, thrill seekers, and families alike.
With millions of acres of wilderness, Grand Marais continues to maintain its authenticity. The towns and harbors may be buzzing during the summer, but in half an hour, you can find yourself in a world that seems untouched by humans.
Whether you want to relax by the lake or chase an adventure, this northern community offers something for everyone. Be sure to plan your trip around one of the region’s many festivals and events and come home with new friends.
4. Hocking Hills, Ohio
Grand Marais is far from anywhere, but if you want to be closer to civilization, try Ohio’s Hocking Hills.
Located in the southeastern region of Ohio, Hocking Hills is an area of natural beauty with forests, caves, lakes, and cozy cabins. Once here, you have nine state parks, three state forests, and a national forest from which to set up basecamp and explore.
5. Kenosha, Wisconsin
Want to experience small-town life without leaving the city far behind? Kenosha, Wisconsin sits on Lake Michigan and nestled itself between the cities of Chicago and Milwaukee.
Come to spend time on the lake and browse the museums and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life.
You can even come car-free. Buses and trains are available from both Milwaukee and Chicago (including all airports) all day.
6. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is the Midwest’s largest city, and it’s the perfect place for a weekend or week-long urban adventure.
The city boasts a vibrant food and theater culture as well as some of the nation’s best museums. Visit the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Shedd Aquarium for learning experiences you’ll never forget.
There’s no shortage of ways to spend your time in Chicago, and we guarantee your first trip to the Windy City will be the first of many.
7. Door County, Wisconsin
Door County, Wisconsin is a national treasure nestled in the dairy state.
It boasts 300 miles of shoreline, five state parks, and 19 communities to base yourself while you explore.
Door County is the perfect choice for an adventure no matter the season. There are as many summer activities as there are winter options. Whether you love fishing on the open water or the ice, the county awaits you at any time of year.
One of the things we love most about Door County is the option to enjoy the region on a budget or indulge in some of the finer things in life. The county boasts luxury resorts, romantic b&bs, and exceptional dining experiences that rival some of the most expensive and exotic locales found anywhere.
8. Alton, Illinois
Alton, Illinois sits on the border between Illinois and Missouri, and it’s the perfect place to explore the Mississippi River.
Whether you have a week, a day, or even just an afternoon, there’s plenty to do. Drive the Great River Road to watch the leaves change and keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles. Even better, park the car and choose to explore by foot or boat instead.
If you come through town, don’t forget to stop at Fast Eddie’s in Bon Air.
The legendary roadhouse harkens back to your childhood and offers burgers, bratwursts, or fries for only $0.99. However, despite the prices, the vibe is not child-friendly. Only patrons 21 and over are allowed inside.
9. Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park is a chance to explore rugged, otherworldly beauty. But while we look at these deposits as a unique landscape, it offers a window into an ancient world.
The deposits here are some of the world’s most abundant fossil beds. Saber-toothed cats and rhinos once roamed these plains, and their bodies are forever trapped in the rocks.
Come here to camp, hike, and explore the territory that the Lakota hold sacred in their mythology.
10. Lake of the Ozarks
Lake of the Ozarks is a Missouri state park that’s now popularly known for the Netflix original film Ozark.
Cozy resort towns surround this humungous lake, which was voted the best recreational lake in the U.S. The best way to explore them isn’t by car but by renting a boat.
Hop on board and make your way around the lake to tuck into one of the over sixty bars and restaurants located right on the water. Once you finish digesting, you have the opportunity to try virtually any watersport. Just drive on over and lower your anchor.
What Are Your Favorite Vacation Spots in the Midwest?
Whether you already live here or you’ve never been, there’s plenty of vacation spots in the Midwest to choose from.
Are you looking for more U.S. travel inspiration? Check out our list of the best national parks to visit before you die.