Especially in the Midwest, heading south to the warmer weather is a popular option for a spring break getaway. But if you are looking for somewhere that’s a little closer to home, I have collaborated with other travel bloggers to bring you some of the best Midwest spring break destinations. There’s a mixture of indoor and outdoor adventures that are fun for the whole family. In my old school district in Iowa, spring break was almost always taken away for snow make up days. But a weekend getaway can still provide a much needed break!
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Midwest Spring Break Destinations
Illinois | Michigan | Minnesota | Missouri | Nebraska | Ohio | South Dakota | Wisconsin
Suggested by Theresa from The Local Tourist
⭐️Great for: A city break
Chicago is a delightful destination for spring break. Despite uncertain weather – there could be a foot of snow or it could be balmy – there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained.
See the city from above at one of two sky-high observatories. Skydeck in the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) invites you to step out on the Ledge, a glass balcony that extends over Wacker Drive far below. At 360 Chicago, located on the Magnificent Mile, you can tilt away from the building at a 45-degree angle.
Head to Museum Campus along the lake for three of the best museums in the world. The Field Museum covers four billion years of history. Next door, Shedd Aquarium introduces you to thousands of specimens of aquatic life. Reach for the sky at the third museum, Adler Planetarium. Reopening March 2022, it’s the oldest planetarium in the United States and features multiple theaters and ancient star-gazing equipment.
Photo Credit: Theresa Goodrich from The Local Tourist
For a boutique hotel that’s right in the heart of things, book a room at Hotel Julien. It’s within walking distance of many of the most popular things to do in Chicago, including Maggie Daley Park and the Chicago Riverwalk. When you get hungry, go for the classic Chicago deep dish at Lou Malnati’s, or hit one of several local spots with outposts at Navy Pier. While there, take a ride on the climate-controlled Centennial Wheel.
🏨Where To Stay: Hotel Julian Chicago
Suggested by Rachel from Rachel’s Findings
⭐️Great for: Foodies and museums
Detroit, Michigan is a city that seems to have a lot of negative sentiments surrounding it. However, as a Michigan native, I’m here to tell you that Detroit has become one of my new favorite cities. I recommend staying at the Mint House Hotel located inside of Philip Houze apartments in downtown Detroit. The industrial-style rooms have high ceilings, a well-equipped kitchen, and the comfiest king-size bed!
For breakfast, walk to Iggy’s Eggies and order their cheap and customizable breakfast sandwiches right at the window. Take it to go and walk a block to enjoy from a picnic table right outside of MadCap Coffee, it’s also your next stop! In my opinion, MadCap makes the best coffee in all of Michigan!
Photo Credit: Rachel from Rachel’s Findings
Ready to explore? Put on your sneakers and Uber to Belle Isle Park. Entry is $5/car for hours of exploration with city and water views. It’s complete with a bell tower, aquarium, greenhouse, an impressive fountain, and a playground for the kids. If you want to learn about Detroit’s history as a family pick between The Henry Ford Museum, or Motown Museum. For a leisurely activity enjoy the view of the GM Renaissance Center from the riverwalk, afterward sit down for a meal at Eatori. Check out more ideas for visiting Detroit!
🏨Where To Stay: Mint House Hotel
Mall of America
⭐️Great for: Shopping and indoor adventures (amusement parks)
There are so many things to do at the Mall of America without even entering a store! Nickelodeon Universe is the largest indoor theme park in the USA. It is located right in the centre of the Mall of America in Bloomington Minnesota! 25 attractions will keep everyone entertained, including 8 thrill rides. The ‘SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge‘ is a looping rollercoaster with a vertical drop! The Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course can have you zip lining across the theme park and walking the plank 56ft up in the air!
For those looking for something a little calmer, you’ll find: mini golf courses, escape rooms, a SeaLife centre, an indoor go-karting track, a Crayola Experience (with 25 hands on activities), a Lego store and more! Many major brand stores and restaurants are all under one roof. It’s impossible to do everything in one day!
There are many large chain hotels all very close to the Mall of America. The JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America is even connected to the mall, so if the weather is bad, you won’t even need to set foot outside! Several of the other hotels offer free shuttle buses.
🏨Where To Stay: JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America
Recommended by Jessica from Uprooted Traveler
⭐️Great for: History and culture
Kansas City, Missouri is a thriving metropolis just waiting to be explored, with a world-class jazz scene, tons of impressive museums, and several charming neighborhoods. If you’re looking to take a family spring break trip, consider a stop at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. It has rotating interactive exhibits, such as a show where Vincent Van Gogh’s work is projected across the walls and ceiling of the gallery, creating an immersive experience for all.
If you’re instead a history buff, check out the newly renovated Harry Truman Presidential Library, to learn about how a man who didn’t go to college became the president who led the United States through the final stages of World War II.
Looking for something more relaxing? Dive deep into Kansas City’s jazz culture with a stop at the kiddo-friendly American Jazz Museum during the day and the more adult-friendly Green Lady Lounge at night to see some of the world’s best musicians in action. The city’s artsy side can be found outside of jazz lounges as well. For example, the Crossroads Arts District feels like it was designed for strolling around, with funky boutiques, art galleries, and hipster restaurants on every block. So no matter what you’re interested in, there’s plenty to see and do in Kansas City to make an epic spring break.
Photo Credit: Jessica from Uprooted Traveler
⭐️Great for: Unique attractions
St Louis is a great for a spring break Midwest city break. It has many unique attractions including the Gateway Arch National Park which opened in 1967. Visitors can ride to the top of the arch to an observation deck with views across St Louis and the Mississippi River.
Another fun indoor attraction is the St Louis City Museum. It’s not really a museum in a tradition sense. The only way I can describe it is like a giant hands-on climbable sculpture! It even has a 10 storey slide that is reached via a cave system.
2019 saw the opening of an extension to Union Station. It’s now home to the St Louis Aquarium, a mini golf course, a ferris wheel, mirror maze, carousel and a high ropes course. The Fire & Light Show is well worth checking out (every 30 minutes from 4.45pm-9.15pm). As is the Grand Hall Light Show (shows on the hour between 5pm-10pm). The Union Station Hotel (a Hilton property) is right on site and has room rate packages that include entrance to the attractions.
🏨Where To Stay: St Louis Union Station Hotel
Recommended by Nikki of She Saves She Travels
⭐️Great for: Animal encounters!
One of the best Midwest spring break destinations is Omaha, Nebraska. If you’re looking for a fun, affordable spot to enjoy a week or a long weekend, then Omaha should be on your short list!
A perfect activity for families or adults of any age is visiting the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. It’s Nebraska’s #1 tourist attraction and sees well over a million visitors every year. With plenty of indoor and outdoor exhibits, it’s a great spot regardless of the weather during spring break. Feed the giraffes, ‘pet’ the sting rays, experience the largest desert dome in the world and walk through an amazing jungle, all in downtown Omaha.
Downtown Omaha is a historic district, the Old Market. Has plenty of things to do and is one of the best spots in Omaha for photos, it’s a must-see for any visitor. Walk the brick streets, hang out in the Old Market Passageway and check out the skyline views at the Heartland of America Park. Be sure to visit the Joslyn Art Castle, one of the most unique things to see in Omaha.
Photo credit: Nikki from She Saves She Travels
Downtown Omaha has more restaurants than you’ll have time for! For Mexican food, go for Trini’s. For sushi, try Blue Sushi Sake Grill. Spaghetti Works for Italian food lovers and for some of the best ice cream you’ll ever have, head to Coneflower Creamery.
Visitors should fly into Epply Airfield, and there are plenty of accommodations to choose from. Find a family-friendly option in the heart of downtown at the Hyatt Place Omaha/Downtown.
🏨Where To Stay: Hyatt Place Omaha/Downtown
Suggested by Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear
⭐️Great for: Music lovers and photo ops!
While Cleveland can still be a bit chilly during the spring months, spend a weekend in Cleveland, OH and you’ll find the city has got a great mix of indoor and outdoor activities that make it perfect for spring breakers. Indoors you’ll find cool museums such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Outdoors you can hunt for the “Cleveland” signs throughout the city and check out the world’s largest rubber stamp.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of the most famous places to visit in Cleveland and is well known for its rock and roll memorabilia. Within its walls, you’ll hear music and see concert outfits and posters from famous artists including The Beatles, Guns and Roses, but also Diana Ross, The Bee Gees, and more.
Photo Credit: Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear
For the perfect photo op, keep your eyes peeled for any of the Cleveland script signs throughout the city. They typically spell out “Cleveland” in a white script font and are perfect for bragging about your trip to Cleveland to all of your friends on Instagram.
Free Stamp, the world’s largest rubber stamp, is a quirky Cleveland thing also worth checking out. Located in the middle of Willard Park, you’ll see the stamp tilted on its side, revealing the word “free,” symbolizing the emancipation of American slaves before and after the Civil War.
Custer State Park
Suggested by Candice from CS Ginger
⭐️Great for: Outdoor adventures and scenic drives
One of the best Midwest spring break destinations is Custer State Park. It is South Dakota’s first and largest state park. The beautiful park is filled with picturesque mountain lakes, granite mountains, and wildlife. Some of the best things to do in Custer State Park are camping, hiking, swimming, and fishing. There are also lots of beautiful scenic drives.
One of the best things to do is drive the Needles Highway Scenic Drive. The Needles Highway Scenic Overlook has sweeping views of the Black Hills and granite mountain peaks. The Needles Eye Tunnel is along this route and is one of the most famous parts of Custer State Park. Keep an eye out for the bison, deer, antelope, mountain goats, elk, and bighorn sheep that call Custer State Park home.
The best place to stay near Custer State Park is at the campgrounds inside the park. If you do not want to camp, the closest lodging is at the Custer State Park Resort. It is a 1920s lodge with modern hotel units and cabins. There is a restaurant on site. The closest city for other lodging options, restaurants, and groceries is in Custer, South Dakota.
🏨Where To Stay: Custer State Park Resort
Photo Credit: Candice from CS Ginger
Badlands National Park
Suggested by: Maggie from Pink Caddy Travelogue
⭐️Great for: Outdoor adventures and scenic drives
South Dakota’s Badlands National Park is an essential part of any Midwest itinerary. In a region filled with rivers, farms, and grasslands, the Badlands is a landscape that looks like it belongs on a different planet. Here, the flat land has eroded into bizarre rock formations, mini canyons, and spectacular colors. This gem of a park is a great spring break destination for all outdoor lovers.
For hikers, there are several trails. At 10 miles long, the Castle Trail is the park’s longest hike but gives a great chance to get up close and personal to the landscape. The Notch Trail is only 1.5 miles but it’s pure fun for kids and adults alike and leads to a grand vista of the park.
Photo Credit: Maggie from Pink Caddy Travelogue
If you’d rather stay in the car, the Loop Road takes visitors through almost the entire park. You can see the amazing landscapes and the wildlife (bison, big-horned sheep, and prairie dogs) by stopping at some of the many pull-outs.
There are a few campgrounds in the area, but the best option is to stay in Rapid City, about an hour away from the park. There you’ll find lots of hotels and B&Bs, as well as dining options. If you want to eat close by, Wall Drug Store is a famous tourist stop with a full-service restaurant.
⭐️Great for: Indoor adventures (water parks)
Wisconsin Dells is a great destination for a spring break Midwest getaway. There are so many things to do in the Wisconsin Dells for kids and adults. The biggest draw are the indoor water park resorts. So even when it’s cold outside, there’s plenty of fun and adventure to be had inside. A couple of the biggest resorts are the Wilderness, the Kalahari, Mt Olympus and Great Wolf Lodge. The Wild Water Dome at the Wilderness is home to the largest indoor wave pool in the USA!
As well as the water parks, many also have: escape rooms, indoor amusement parks, go-kart tracks, mini golf and high ropes climbing courses. Most of these have an addition charge, however the water parks are included within the room rate.
The Dells also has many unique places to eat. MooseJaw have amazing food where diners can wear antler hats. Buffalo Phil’s has a giant lego city display and food is delivered to the table via miniature railway. Grateful Shed is a converted Greyhound station, complete with a Greyhound bus parked inside the building, food trucks and quirky seating options!
🏨Where To Stay: Hilton Garden Inn Wisconsin Dells
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