Editors' 15 Favorite Midwest Getaways | Midwest Living

Editors' 15 Favorite Midwest Getaways

Do you ever wonder where the Midwest Living editors love to travel? Our list of 15 editors' picks features everything from busy cities to tranquil retreats -- plus personal stories of our adventures.

Door County, Wisconsin

"With seemingly few chain hotels, stores or fast-food outlets, Door County, northeast of Green Bay, has a pristine charm all its own. I love the boats bobbing in the harbors, the unspoiled beaches, the charmingly quaint towns, the rolling woods, farmlands and cherry orchards, the small-town waterside restaurants, the art galleries and unique shops. It's my favorite escape from commercialism and everyday stress; I can relax, play, revive my spirituality and dream of a simpler way of life."

-Carol Schalla, Senior Home & Projects Editor

Door County Visitor Bureau

Iowa State Fair (Des Moines)

"Just one annual trip to the great Iowa State Fair isn't enough. I start with an after-work visit (half-price admission!*) with girlfriends. We share gyros and chocolate-covered bananas while we dance, unencumbered by our embarrassed tweens, to free concerts. On a family-focused trip, we time our Sky Glider ride to enjoy the sunset. And if I'm lucky, a final visit with my honey sees us holding hands on a stroll down the Grand Concourse."

-Karman Hotchkiss, former Managing Editor

Iowa State Fair


"My husband, Mark, and I both love Cleveland. It was the first weekend getaway we took when we started dating. Though I had been there before, I loved seeing the city, especially the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, from the perspective of a passionate music fan who collects rock memorabilia. Perennial Chicago Cubs fans, we also went to a game at Jacobs Field and rooted heartily for the hometown team to beat the White Sox. The whole weekend was about abandoning responsibilities and just having fun, something we both really needed and have cherished ever since."

-Kendra L. Williams, Senior Travel Editor

Positively Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau

St. Louis

"My husband and I spent one magical morning at the 79-acre Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis. We arrived just after 9, when mist still cloaked the formal gardens and leafy trees. Juan showed me plants from his native Costa Rica in the Tropical Conservatory, and I told him about how I visited elegant gardens in England as a child. We were both feeling pretty nostalgic when suddenly a little wild fox emerged from the woods to sip from the Lily Pond. We watched in delight, excited to have a story that was now ours to share."

-Hannah Agran, Food & Features Editor

St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

Nebraska's Fort Robinson State Park

"You can practically touch the legends hanging in the air around Fort Robinson State Park's craggy bluffs and old cavalry buildings. A stone marker shows where legendary warrior Crazy Horse died. In the museum, two fossilized mammoths lie in midbattle for eternity. Families stay in historical cabins built from barracks that once quartered soldiers. And on guided Jeep or horse rides up into the buttes, you can gaze down on hillsides where the Cheyenne Outbreak played out. The state park features live performances at an on-site theater and a full-service restaurant."

-Trevor Meers, Executive Editor

Fort Robinson State Park


"For me, a native Hoosier, Indianapolis offers the perfect mix of familiar hot spots and fun discoveries. What tops my list of must-dos when I visit: shopping at downtown's Circle Centre mall, catching a Broadway show at Clowes Memorial Hall on the Butler University campus and hitting the Colts Pro Shop at Lucas Oil Stadium -- or, better yet, cheering wildly at a game. And new shops and restaurants are always popping up, so I can explore something new each time I'm in the city."

-Sara Reimer, Assistant Home Editor

Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association

Flint Hills, Kansas

"In the Kansas Flint Hills, I wade knee-deep into awe. The hills roll out, seemingly forever, and the prairie grasses grow with abandon. It is a place so settled in time that I have no problem seeing the settlers, the cowboys and the American past playing out through the big bluestem. Shale, hidden under the grasses, clacks as I walk. Songbirds flit from wildflower to wildflower. There's a scent of dust and a sense of reverie. My family and I talk in whispers, even though there's no one else to hear us in this immensity."

-Greg Philby, Editor-in-Chief

Flint Hills Tourism Coalition

Minnesota's North Shore

"My favorite is Minnesota's North Shore. It's a serene place that seems untouched by time and brings warm memories of my childhood. I never get tired of the forests, the rivers, the lake -- the natural beauty that's different, yet somehow the same, every day and every year."

-Sally Finder, former Copy Chief

Minnesota's North Shore

Great River Road

"The Great River Road along the Mississippi River has to be my favorite drive. I am especially fond of the stretch from Red Wing to Alma, Wisconsin. This section is a diamond in the rough. About halfway between the two towns is Pepin, a small town of 800 people. Along Lake Pepin (off the main road) is the Pickle Factory with some of the best food. I think we ended up eating dinner there every night."

-Kristin Bienert, Special Projects Editor

Great River Road

The Badlands

"The otherworldly landscape of Badlands National Park in South Dakota. It's solitary and stark, and its exposed topography make for an outing prone to stoking the imagination."

-Trevor Meers, Executive Editor

Black Hills Badlands & Lake Association

Traverse City, Michigan

"The first time I visited Traverse City, Michigan, was a picture-perfect August day: bright sun, puffy clouds and a barely-there Lake Michigan breeze. I rolled down the windows and drove onto Old Mission Peninsula, zipping by tidy vineyards and old-fashioned produce stands piled high with cherries. When I got to the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula, I walked onto the sand and stood at the water's edge to call my parents in Cincinnati, and all I could say was, "You won't believe where I am."

-Hannah Agran, Food & Features Editor

Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau


"Last summer, my husband and I returned to Chicago to spend a week doing all of the touristy things that we generally took for granted (and skipped!) when we used to live there. We played Frisbee at the Taste of Chicago, rode the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, stepped onto the Willis Tower Ledge, gazed at the pirates and dinos at the Field Museum, strolled through the Lincoln Park Zoo, frolicked at Oak Street Beach, watched the fireworks explode over Lake Michigan and stood by a quiet lily pond in Lincoln Park. When we began driving home to Iowa, my husband slowly shook his head, smiled a long, uncharacteristically relaxed smile and said, "We're going to have a hard time ever topping that trip."

-Kendra L. Williams, Senior Travel Editor

City of Chicago Tourism Office


Illinois' Starved Rock State Park

"As an adventure-starved 11-year-old, I fell in love with north-central Illinois' Starved Rock State Park. I returned last fall for a story expecting a letdown. No place could be as magical as I remembered. True -- at least not immediately. But over several days, I rediscovered all of things I loved about the place one at a time. The Depression-era lodge still rambles like some sort of Midwest castle across a bluff high above the Illinois River. An evening reading in front of the common room's massive stone fireplace is worth the trip. I followed 13 miles of trails through deep woods to canyons and waterfalls. I saved for last the climb to the park's namesake rock and was awed all over again by the view of the river and treetops, splashed with color and teeming with birds -- pure magic."

-Barbara Morrow, former Deputy Editor of Special Publications

Starved Rock State Park

Duluth, Minnesota

"In Duluth, so many great things come together: the Great Lakes (Lake Superior), sandy beaches that go for miles, rugged coastline just minutes away, lighthouses and freighters, bicycling, local restaurants and art galleries, and the real, historic feel of Duluth. It feels fresh and ancient at the same time; energetic and soothing. This has become a must-do repeat vacation for my family, like visiting a best friend."

-Greg Philby, Editor-in-Chief

Visit Duluth

Iowa's Ledges State Park

"My husband and I drove on arrow-straight roads by cornfields, northwest of Des Moines, wondering whether we were wasting our weekend afternoon. When we entered Ledges, it was as if we'd dropped into a different world: sandstone cliffs, steep forested crests, a fast-rushing stream, bluff views over the Des Moines River. We hiked, we waded, we climbed, we listened to the rustling leaves. We felt totally invigorated and refreshed -- and delighted to find a paradise, close to home."

-Ginger Crichton, Digital Editor

Ledges State Park

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