A Little Time and a Keyboard: 12 Super Road Trip Destinations from Chicago for Spring Break

12 Super Road Trip Destinations from Chicago for Spring Break

Sunday, January 23, 2022

 12 Super Road Trip Destinations from Chicago for Spring Break

12 Super Road Trip Destinations from Chicago Perfect for Your Next Adventure

With warmer days hopefully upon us soon, time is here to think about road trips! I am sharing a few of my favorites within a range of distances.  Happy trekking!

Within 3 Hours

Galena, Illinois: Downtown Galena enchants with one of the most beautiful historic districts in the USA. The bustling downtown full of shops, wineries, eateries and history beckons wanderers. Nearby hiking experiences are plentiful and treat to fantastic views of the Mississippi including from one of our favorites, Mississippi Palisades State Park. The Ulysses S. Grant is home is one of our favorites to tour and includes so many authentic family artifacts. While in Galena, wander over to nearby Dubuque, Iowa for a trip up the Fenelon Place Elevator. 

Madison, Wisconsin: Wisconsin's state capitol, Madison, unfolds an amazing opportunity for a family getaway. The Wisconsin State Capitol Building is striking and quite an interesting place to tour. Don't forget to step out on one of the balconies for a view. A plethora of hiking opportunities exist in and around the city including Lakeshore Nature Preserve, Blue Mound State Park, Devil's Staircase and Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Olbrich Botanical Gardens enchants in all seasons. Chazen Museum of Art, Madison Children's Museum and Wisconsin History Museum all add to any itinerary. We also love nibbling at the bakeries in Madison including Madison Sourdough and Batch Bakehouse. 

The bold Thai Pavilion at Olbrich Botanical Gardens dazzles in all seasons.
The bold Thai Pavilion at Olbrich Botanical Gardens dazzles in all seasons.

Quad Cities, Illinois and Iowa: The Quad Cities incorporates a number of Illinois and Iowa communities saddling the striking Mississippi River. A wealth of nature activities can be enjoyed including hiking and bird watching on Sylvan Island, at Black Hawk Historic Site, at Illiniwek Forest Preserve and more. Putnam Museum and Science Center, Figge Art Museum and Quad Cities Botanical Center offer more avenues of discovery. Don't forget to pick up ice cream at Whitey's or Lagomarcino's. For the over 21 crowd, hit the Quad Cities Ale Trail. We love the wealth of activities available and return to the Quad Cities again and again!

        Hands-on science learning inside Davenport's  Putnam Museum and Science Center in
the Quad Cities.

Within 6 Hours

Columbus, Ohio: Columbus has been one of our favorite cities to wander. We love German Village full of historic buildings and small businesses. Visiting Schmidt's Restaurant rewards with fabulous and authentic German fare. (My favorite is the German chocolate pie.) Museums include the Center of Science and Industry with a dinosaur gallery, Columbus Museum of Art and Central Ohio Fire Museum. We also enjoy visiting the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium which has one of the best African savanna experiences I have viewed.

Grand Rapids, Michigan: Grand Rapids is home to one of my favorite botanical gardens and sculpture parks, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. the grand scale sculptures are breathtaking and the gardens awe especially the Japanese garden. We also find the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Grand Rapids Art Museum fascinating. We usually pair a trip to Grand Rapids with a trip to Lake Michigan's shore often at Grand Haven. I am totally a beach lover in all seasons and often prefer spring for visits because there are fewer visitors. Rosy Mound Natural Trail in Grand Haven is one of our cherished nature highlights.

Hocking Hills, Ohio: Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio fascinates with a cache of unique hikes exploring canyons, caves, cliffs, waterfalls and much more. We love renting a cabin in the region for a little nature respite away from it all.

Waterfalls and rock formations amaze inside Hocking Hills State Park.
Waterfalls and rock formations amaze inside Hocking Hills State Park.


Louisville, Kentucky: Louisville offers a great launching point for a Kentucky vacation. Museums including the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and Frazier History Museum present venues entertaining a range of interests. Churchill Downs is iconic. Louisville Mega Cavern bestows a venue for weaving through ropes courses and sliding along ziplines underground. The food scene includes so many of our favorites including Mark's Feed Store and Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen. The Camberly Brown and Seelbach hotels sweep you back to old hospitality. Of course, bourbon is a must for the 21+ crowd.

Shawnee National Forest: Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois welcomes travelers to unique hikes with unparalleled views. The forest includes a remarkable 289,000 acres of nature adventures to experience. Hiking, camping, horseback riding, biking, fishing, climbing, boating and more forge incredible nature experiences in some of the most unique settings of the Midwest.

Millions of years of geologic changes are reflected at the Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest.
Millions of years of geologic changes are reflected at the Garden of the Gods in
Shawnee National Forest.

St. Louis, Missouri: St. Louis is an ideal location for a little getaway right along the mighty Mississippi River. The City Museum, St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Zoo and St. Louis Art Museum among others inspire discovery. Of course, visitors must check out the Gateway Arch! Eating on 'The Hill' will treat you to fantastic Italian fare. You will also be near Cahokia Mounds where you can learn about the Mississippian Mound Builders. Additionally, you can head to St. Charles or Ste. Genvieve for a little French colonial history. When in St. Louis, one must also take an Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour.  So many avenues of exploration make St. Louis a fabulous destination.

The Gateway Arch marks a grand entrance to St. Louis and the West.
The Gateway Arch marks a grand entrance to St. Louis and the West.


Within 8 Hours

Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota: Minneapolis and Saint Paul have always been a favorite locale to visit. I love that there are spaces to admire nature right in Minneapolis and St. Paul including Minnehaha Falls, Chain of Lakes and Shadow Falls. Plus, there are tons of hiking opportunities nearby in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Mill City Museum and the Museum of Russian Art are two of my favorite museums in the Midwest. A walk along the Stone Arch Bridge and a peek at flour mill ruins provide an interesting look at Minneapolis. Como Zoo Conservatory in nearby Roseville treats to magnificent floral displays in all seasons. The region is populated with local microbrews adding tasting experiences.


Omaha, Nebraska: Perched along the Missouri River, Omaha offered us a wonderful starting point for a few nature adventures including Platte River State Park, Lewis and Clark Monument Park, Heron Haven and more. We loved walking around the Old Market, peeking into the Passageway and more. The city includes a wealth of museums such as the Durham Museum, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha Children's Museum present a wealth of adventures.  For a truly unique scene, visit Hollywood Candy which not only delights with tons and tons of candy but includes a vintage pinball arcade, movie memorabilia, a '50s diner, vinyls and so much more!

Spectacular view of Omaha from Lewis and Clark Monument in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Spectacular view of Omaha from Lewis and Clark Monument in Council Bluffs, Iowa.


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh is a fantastic vacation choice for any season. The city's range of museums inspires any wanderer. The National Aviary is a wonder that should not be missed. Several rooms are free-fly, so you will have all sorts of interesting birds freely flying and roaming. Andy Warhol Museum, Heinz History Center, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and more will invite exploration. Don't forget to take the Duquesne Incline up to the top of Mount Washington for a view. We have to take in this view EVERY time we are in the city. Wander the Strip District for all sorts of foodie treats and shops. Hiking, river views and more will entice nature lovers. Every trip to Pittsburgh welcomes us to new experiences.

12 Super Road Trip Destinations from Chicago Perfect for Your Next Adventure


12 Super Road Trip Destinations from Chicago Perfect for Your Next Adventure


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