With its diverse natural beauty, cultural attractions, and exciting outdoor activities, the Midwest is a great destination for families of all ages.
Planning midwest family vacations with kids may not be the most popular choice for some families, but don't discount what this beautiful land has to offer. Here are some beautiful midwest family getaways and destinations you might know know about that both you and your little ones will be sure to love!
Ideas for Midwest Family Vacations with Younger Kids
Our little family of six has evolved into an era where we can now take some vacations to places other than our backyard. While I'm sad that era of our life is gone, we're really excited about this next stage of exploring the world with our little ones in tow.
These are all of the places that are on our bucket list before our kids head off to college! I've done my best to round up some of the internet favorites on places to go with littles. I've also found some other bloggers who wrote a trip report on some of these destinations, which are linked.
I hope this helps you in planning a vacation in the midwest - we're more that just farm and plain land! There is just SO MUCH to do!
1. Door County, Wisconsin
There are tons of beaches in Door County. The beaches are gorgeous and all have their reasons for visiting. It has 300 miles of shoreline and known for all of its orchards, cherry pie and 11 amazing and historic lighthouses.
More Information About Door County
- Official Visitors Site: Door County Visitor's Bureau
- Ranked List of Things to Do: Best Things to Do and Explore in Door County
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Real Experiences on What You Can Do with Family
Where to Stay in Door County
2. Mount Rushmore & Rapid City, South Dakota
Mount Rushmore is a beautiful monument, but there are so many things to do in Rapid City. There are restored buildings, green public space and tons of statues of our Presidents. Nearby Rapid City has a walkable downtown area where you can spend time trying to find the 43 life-sized bronze presidential statues on the street corners of downtown.
More Information About Mount Rushmore and Rapid City South Dakota
- Official Visitors Site: Rapid City Visitor's page
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Planning Your Visit to Mount Rushmore
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Mount Rushmore and Rapid City Suggested Itinerary
Where to Stay in Mount Rushmore and Rapid City
3. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
You can climb and explore anywhere in the Badlands, which makes it amazing places for littles. The kids can also be part of the Junior Ranger program to earn a badge during their vacation.
More Information About Badlands National Park
- Official Visitors Guide: Visitor's Center National Park
- Ranked List of Things to Do: Badlands National Park Things To Do with Family
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Visiting Badlands with Kids
Where to Stay in Badlands National Park
- Best Hotels near Badlands National Park
- Badlands National Park Official Reservation Site
- VRBOs Near Badlands National Park
4. Brainerd Lakes, Minnesota
There are so many things to do, including the Northland Arboretum, Moondance Ranch, Adventure Park, Paul Bunyan land and the Franklin Art Center. The city is known for the Brainerd International Raceway which draws crowds in August for the national drag race. The has a lot of information on other activities you can explore.
More Information About Brainerd Lakes
- Official Visitors Site: Brainerd Visitor's Page
- Ranked List of Things To Do: 28 Things to Do in Brainerd Lakes in the Midwest
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Amazing Things to Do in Brainerd with Kids
Where to Stay in Brainerd Lake
5. Omaha, Nebraska
If you live in the heartland, Omaha is only a few hours away and has one of the best zoos in the nation. They are known for their pioneer history, museums and amazing cultural centers.
More Information About Omaha
- Official Visitors Site: Omaha Visitor's Center
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Things to do in Omaha
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: One Way Getaway to Omaha, Nebraska
Where to Stay in Omaha
6. Grand Island, Nebraska
Grand Island is in central Nebraska and is the home of the Crane Trust Nature Visitor Center, Stuhr Museum of Prairie Pioneer and Island Oasis Water Park.
More Information About Grand Island
- Official Visitors Site: Grand Island Tourism
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Top List of Things to Do in Grand Island
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Grand Island Nebraska with Kids
Where to Stay in Grand Island
7. Kansas City, Missouri
I might be biased, but there is just SO MUCH to do in Kansas City! From Science City, Worlds of Fun, Union Station, Sea Life, Lego Land, Shatto Milk Tour, Liberty Memorial, Wonderscope, Hallmark Kaleidoscope, great barbeque, live jazz bands - the list goes on and on! Check out my Kansas City guide on my Family Vacations page.
More Information About Kansas City
- Official Visitors Site: Visit KC Tourism
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Things to Do in Kansas City
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: 3 Day Weekend in Kansas City
Where to Stay in Kansas City
8. Saint Louis, Missouri
Saint Louis is such a beautiful city, especially when you are driving from Columbia to Saint Louis because of all the gorgeous foliage in the fall. I would recommend visiting the Arch, Children's City Museum, Anheuser Busch tour and visiting the downtown area for delicious food. Don't try STL BBQ, Kansas City BBQ is way better. KIDDING!
More Information About Saint Louis
- Official Visitors Site: Explore Saint Louis
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Things to Do in Saint Louis
- Real Trip Reports: St. Louis with Kids for a Weekend
Where to Stay in Saint Louis
9. Branson, Missouri
We absolutely love going to Branson. Yes, it's the home of a lot of corny shows, but it is a great family city! The strip can also not be missed! There is a Mexican restaurant that has delicious food that you will need to visit as well.
When we go down there, we stay at Big Cedar Lodge and it does not disappoint. Make sure you do the Top of the Rock Branson golf cart tour - our family of six loved the beautiful landscape of waterfalls and caves!
More Information About Branson
- Official Visitors Site: Branson Tourism
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Activities to do in Branson
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Money saving tips and hacks for Silver Dollar City.
Where to Stay in Branson
10. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
This is the summer destination for all families in Kansas City and Saint Louis, and it could be yours too! As a family, I would recommend staying away from Party Cove, but everything else is fair game. There is world class golfing, shopping and fishing to be had!
More Information About Lake of the Ozarks
- Official Visitors Site: Lake of the Ozark's Visitor's Guide
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Things to Do with Little Kids at Lake of the Ozarks
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Lake of the Ozarks with Kids
Where to Stay at Lake of the Ozarks
11. Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is home to Henson Robinson Zoo, Knight's Action Park & Caribbean Water Adventure and the Dana-Thomas House! Washington Park is beautiful when the blooms are out! This should definitely be part of any of your plans for midwest family vacations!
More Information About Springfield
- Official Visitors Site: Springfield Visitors Bureau
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Tripadvisor Top Things to Do in Springfield
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Best Things to Do in Springfield, Missouri
Where to Stay in Springfield
12. Holland Michigan
Holland Michigan is known for it's Dutch heritage as well as the Tulip Time Festival in May. There's a pony farm your kids must visit! If you are considering a midwest family vacation, this should be on your list!
More Information About Holland
- Official Visitors Site: Discover Holland
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Top Things to Do in Holland, Michigan
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Summer Vacation Tips Blog Post for Holland
Where to Stay in Holland
13. Indianapolis, Indiana
You'll need to visit the Children's Museum of Indianapolis - it has five floors of fun! You should spend a whole day dedicated to this museum because it is packed with a ton of fun! There are a million places to eat that your kids will love in Indy!
More Information About Indianapolis
- Official Visitors Site: Visitor's Center for Indianapolis
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Things to Do in Indianapolis with Family
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Family Friendly Trip and Experiences with Kids
Where to Stay in Indianapolis
14. Cincinnati, Ohio
From a botanical garden to an aquarium, Cincinatti is has an amazing history and attractions that will sure to keep your family entertained. There is Kings Island, which is an amusement for everyone.
Here are some of the best hotels and stays in Cincinnati, Ohio that you can check out.
More Information About Cincinnati
- Official Visitors Site: Cincinnati Visitor's Bureau
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Things to Do in Cincinnati, Ohio
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Midwest Ohio Things To Do on Vacation and 48 Hours in Cincinnati with Kids
Where to Stay in Cincinnati
15. Sandusky, Ohio
This city is on the shores of Lake Erie. With a ton of family attractions, this is not to be missed (even if it's last on this list). There's a huge amusement park that is known for it's multiple rollercoasters as well as a Merry-Go-Round Museum that has gorgeous detail! The Maritime Museum is also not to be missed.
More Information About Sandusky
- Official Visitors Site: Sandusky Visitor's Website
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Things to Do in Sandusky Year Round
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Best Things to Do in Sandusky
Where to Stay in Sandusky
16. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is definitely a big city, but it is somewhat in the midwest. If you are heading to St. Louis or Kansas City on a road trip, Chicago is one of the cities you can pretty much get lost in. There is so much to do, from big city stuff all the way to suburban activities for families.
More Information About Chicago
- Official Visitors Site: Choose Chicago
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Things To Do in Chicago
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: 3 Days in Chicago with Kids
Where to Stay in Chicago
17. Rogers, Arkansas and Beaver Lake
This is an alternative to Lake of the Ozarks. It is beautiful and serene.
More Information About Rogers
- Official Visitors Guide: Visit Rogers
- Ranked List of Things To Do: Top Things to Do in Rogers, Arkansas
- Real Trip Reports and Experiences: Beaver Lake with Kids
Where to Stay in Rogers
These are VRBO's that I've seen others post around Rogers, Arkansas that you should definitely check out and consider for your next stay.
Summary of Affordable Midwest Family Vacations
Now, you have no excuse to visit the midwest! There are so many places and things to do in between those BIG vacations. I hope this helps you plan your next few midwest family vacations.
If you are looking for a BIGGER vacation idea, I've written about our family's experiences as a family of six doing an amazing double vacation at Disney World Parks followed by a Disney Cruise that you can read about here.