45 Midwest Resorts We Love | Midwest Living

45 Midwest Resorts We Love

Our favorite Midwest resort destinations range from cozy lakeside lodges to indoor water park behemoths. Dive in to check out our top picks for a fabulous Midwest getaway.
Photo by Catey Sullivan

Utica, Illinois: Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort

No sunshine? No problem. Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort, situated on 60 acres of woods close to Starved Rock State Park, offers great indoor attractions for the entire family. Kids will get a kick out of the Enchanted Forest, a busy indoor amusement park with full-size rides, including a roller coaster. They'll also love splashing around the 24,000-square-foot indoor water park while grown-ups recline in a deck chair or hit the lazy river. Head outside for miniature golf and a playground. See Midwest Living's review. (866) 399-3866; grizzlyjacksresort.com

Nisswa, Minnesota: Grand View Lodge and Good Ol' Days Family Resort

Guests might come to Grand View Lodge for the three spectacular 18-hole golf courses, but they stay for the quality accommodations and views. Choose from townhomes, villas, cabins or clubhouse suites; we love the cabins lining Roy Lake (pictured). In addition to golf, the resort offers a beach, spa and indoor water park. See Midwest Living's review. (866) 801-2951; grandviewlodge.com

Just blocks from downtown Nisswa, Good Ol' Days Family Resort features Mission-style cottages with glass doors framing views of Lower Cullen Lake. The four-season resort also includes an eight-unit lodge and a beautiful beach. Rent boats, play on the basketball court, indulge in nightly campfires and ice cream socials, or try some friendly competitions such as kayak races and a sand sculpture contest. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 227-4501; goodoldaysresort.com

Ashland, Nebraska: Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is all about amenities: trail rides, miniature golf, a driving range, a water park (pictured), pedal boats, theater performances and an ice rink in winter. The grounds are as manicured as a golf course, and the cabin clusters look like suburban subdivisions. The huge Peter Kiewit Lodge features motel-style rooms and a full restaurant with great views of the Platte River Valley. See Midwest Living's review. (402) 944-2523; outdoornebraska.org

Brainerd, Minnesota: Madden's on Gull Lake and Lost Lake Lodge

Historic Madden's on Gull Lake (pictured) lands the perfect balance between family fun and serious pampering. Make your visit easy by booking an inclusive plan, featuring dining options at the resort's five restaurants. We love the lakeside Madden Lodge dining room. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 642-5363; maddens.com

The 13 cabins are nice enough, but it's the culinary offerings that steal the show at Lost Lake Lodge. Arrive by boat or car for fancy multi-course meals of seared king salmon, New York strip steak or even grilled wild boar paired with one of 40-plus wines available by the glass. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 450-2681; lostlake.com

Lewiston, Michigan: Garland Lodge and Resort and Tee Lake Resort

If you've ever wondered what "sophisticated rustic" looks like, book a room at the woodsy Garland Lodge and Resort (pictured) in northeast Michigan. The massive Up North lodge includes accents like earthy tile floors and oversize stained-glass windows. Four championship golf courses surround the cottages, villas and condos. If golf isn't your thing, saddle up for a horseback ride or explore the Au Sable river in a canoe or raft. See Midwest Living's review. (877) 442-7526; garlandusa.com

New owners at Tee Lake Resort have transformed four 1930s-era lakeside cabins into fun themed spaces with headboards fashioned from old doors and vintage dishes used as accents. Guests get free access to pedal boats, kayaks and weekly s'more making around the bonfire. See Midwest Living's review. (989) 786-2208; teelakeresort.com

The Villas at Gervasi Vineyard, Canton, Ohio

Stucco walls, stone fireplaces, flat-screen TVs and large travertine-tiled baths with heated floors deck the 24 suites that opened to complement the on-site restaurant. In the morning, guests brew Italian java and then enjoy fresh-baked breakfast treats (delivered in a charming wooden box) at the communal table in the shared living room. From $179. See Midwest Living’s review. (330) 497-1000; gervasivineyard.com

Lutsen, Minnesota: Caribou Highlands Lodge and Lutsen Resort

Spreading across the Sawtooth Mountains along Minnesota's North Shore, Caribou Highlands Lodge has evolved from a ski resort into a four-season family destination. The laid-back resort's full menu of free activities includes nightly bonfires, guided canoe trips and even a supervised day camp for kids 12 and under. (800) 642-6036; caribouhighlands.com

The four-season Lutsen Resort has plenty of draws for summer visitors, including scenic kayak tours, wildflower hikes, evening campfires (pictured), fly-fishing, horseshoes and bocce ball. Unwind along the rocky shoreline before settling into the Scandinavian lodge or a villa. (800) 258-8736; lutsenresort.com

Sandusky, Ohio, and Wisconsin Dells: Kalahari Resort

Whether you come for the massive water attractions or the African-theme rooms, your visit to a Kalahari Resort will clearly be family-oriented. Indoor water parks at the resort's two Midwest locations are among the nation's largest. We especially enjoyed the unique Flow Rider surfing attraction. With more than a half-dozen restaurants on-site, the resorts also offer plenty of eating options -- from by-the-pool grille to nicer eateries or room service. But be sure to try the pizza at least once; it's delicious and affordably feeds a family. See Midwest Living's review. (877) 525-2427; kalahariresorts.com

Thompsonville, Michigan: Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa

A destination for all seasons, Crystal Mountain wows with its wide variety of lodgings and classy amenities. In winter, ski out the back door of a mountaintop townhome. Summer allows for speedy runs down the 1,600-foot-long alpine slide. Nourish body and spirit at Crystal Spa, the only LEED-certified spa in the Midwest, and cap off the day at the on-site Thistle Pub and Grille, where regional ingredients flavor healthy high-end cuisine. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 968-7686; crystalmountain.com

Kohler, Wisconsin: The American Club

The Midwest's only AAA Five-Diamond resort hotel, The American Club has luxurious rooms and suites, plus a spa. While you're there, break out the clubs for four incredible golf courses designed by Pete Dye, or visit The John Michael Kohler Arts Center with its striking art. Take a free three-hour tour of the Kohler Factory weekday mornings; peruse upscale plumbing fixtures at the Kohler Design Center. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 344-2838; americanclubresort.com

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri: Tan-Tar-A

At 420 acres, Tan-Tar-A is one of the region's most sprawling resorts, but it's intimate when it needs to be. Kids will love the 600 feet of slides at Timber Falls Indoor Water Park; adults might want to spend a blissful afternoon at the Windjammer Spa. Whether you're looking for 27 holes of championship golf or the miniature version, Tan-Tar-A has got you covered. Choose from more than 800 rooms, suites and condominiums. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 826-8272; tan-tar-a.com

Lanesboro, Minnesota: Cedar Valley Resort

Experience the best of the Root River Valley at this quiet resort near historic Lanesboro. The spacious grassy areas and large cabins (accommodating up to 40 people; pictured) at Cedar Valley Resort make this the perfect locale for your next family reunion. Bike to the charming town of Lanesboro along the popular Root River State Trail or go trout fishing and tubing on the water. We wish this place were a well-kept secret, but because it's not, book early. Summer weekends fill up a year in advance. See Midwest Living's review. (507) 467-9000; cedarvalleyresort.com

Custer, South Dakota: Custer State Park Resort

Four historic lodges plus a variety of cabins nestle among 71,000 acres of mountains at Custer State Park. We enjoyed our stay at the State Game Lodge, a 1920 stone and wood masterpiece surrounded by ponderosa pine forest. Activities include hiking, boat rentals, horseback riding, safari jeep tours and a chuck wagon cookout. Be sure to drive the spectacular, winding Needles Highway and walk around lovely Sylvan Lake (pictured). For a glimpse of wildlife, ogle the bison wandering on the Wildlife Loop. See Midwest Living's review. (888) 875-0001; custerresorts.com

Traverse City, Michigan: Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

A golfer's dream destination, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa boasts three championship courses, including one that has been rated Michigan's most challenging: the par-72 Bear designed by Jack Nicklaus. But golfing isn't the only draw at this classy 600-room destination. Head up to the 16th floor for culinary paradise at The Aerie, where seasonal ingredients flavor a menu that changes weekly. While there, enjoy a glass of Michigan wine and watch the sun sink over Grand Traverse Bay. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 236-1577; grandtraverseresort.com

Pequot Lakes, Minnesota: Clamshell Beach Resort

Over the last 10 years, this family-owned resort - founded in 1938 - has added eight cottages, a lodge with game room, two swimming pools and a spa room. Its small-resort vibe shows in touches like a welcome board listing all the guests and their hometowns, but the spacious new cottages help Clamshell Beach Resort compete with bigger resorts in the area. Guests can borrow croquet sets, tennis racquets and beach toys; take a paddleboat or canoe out on Clamshell Lake; golf at the adjoining Whitefish Golf Club; or check out the movie library and game room. But bring your own toiletries, beach towels and coffee. See Midwest Living's review. (888) 252-6743; clamshellbeachresort.com

Birchwood, Wisconsin: Stout's Island Lodge

The Stout family brought their lumber fortune and summer-home dreams from Chicago to this 1,800-acre haven on Red Cedar Lake. Frank D. Stout modeled Stout's Island Lodge after the Adirondack resorts in upstate New York. Today, the 1912 lodge still sports gleaming, wide-plank hardwood floors; framed black-and-white family photographs; and wool spreads on some of the king-size beds. Its 43 rooms capture turn-of-the-20th-century class, and some of the eight cabins have twin beds in sleeping porches. Spend the day canoeing, fishing, playing croquet or just curling up with a good book. In the evening, dine on garden-fresh soups, tasty burgers and cooked-to-order steaks. See Midwest Living's review. (715) 354-3646; stoutsislandlodge.com

Ridgedale, Missouri: Big Cedar Lodge

This upscale property on the southern tip of Table Rock Lake features hotel rooms in three lodges (with rooms overlooking the lake, of course), but beautiful, newly-renovated log cabins hidden among the pine trees are the big draw. Wooden decks even have their own gas grills, and room service will gladly provide all the fixings for a do-it-yourself barbeque, so you dine in seclusion while watching boats laze on the water below. If you want to do more than just relax, programs for both kids and adults will keep you entertained. New in 2013: Standup paddleboard yoga, yoga hikes, a 62-foot luxury dinner yacht and revamped kids’ programs.  See Midwest Living's review. (800) 225-6343; bigcedar.com

Breezy Point, Minnesota: Breezy Point Resort

Choose to stay in lakeside hotel units with balconies or an Arts and Crafts-style reunion house at this popular destination on a Brainerd Lakes-area peninsula. It's easy to fill a week at Breezy Point Resort, no matter the season. During the summer, explore Pelican Lake on Jet Skis, try a round of golf or opt for a narrated tour aboard the Breezy Belle. Winter brings its own fun, including Zamboni-groomed lake skating and snow golf. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 432-3777; breezypointresort.com

Fontana, Wisconsin: The Abbey Resort

Once you arrive at this lakefront resort on Lake Geneva, you won't want to leave. The rooms are lovely, with decor featuring exposed beams and a bed so comfortable we wanted to take it home. Wander The Abbey Resort's 90-acre grounds; visit the marina for boat tours, a ski school and parasailing; or treat yourself to a massage or luxurious body scrub at the Avani Spa. The resort's Fontana Grill serves upscale steaks and seafood. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 709-1323; theabbeyresort.com

Moravia, Iowa: Honey Creek Resort

Iowa's first resort-style state park lodging welcomes guests with a soaring Arts and Crafts-style lobby featuring stained-glass windows and a 50-foot fireplace (pictured). In addition to 105 guest rooms and suites, Honey Creek Resort has 28 cabins. Rent bikes, kayaks, boats or personal watercraft, or head to the simple but clean indoor water park. An 18-hole golf course and full-service restaurant round out the experience. See Midwest Living's review. (877) 677-3344; honeycreekresort.com

Grand Marais, Minnesota: Gunflint Lodge

All-inclusive packages draw guests to Gunflint Lodge, a lakefront resort at the edge of the Boundary Waters. This four-season resort 43 miles northwest of Grand Marais embraces its prime wilderness location with activities like horseback riding, fishing, hiking and canoeing. Soar above the trees on the Towering Pines Canopy Tour. Comfortable cottages include stone fireplaces and two-person spas; guests can also opt for one of the well-appointed cabins or lake homes. See Midwest Living's review. (218) 388-2294; gunflint.com

Wisconsin Dells: Wilderness Resort

Choose between family-friendly lodging — featuring four indoor, guests-only water parks and wilderness-theme hotel rooms—or a quiet getaway with fully furnished cabins, condominiums and villas at this sprawling resort. Wilderness Resort is so big you'll need a map to find your way around. Families will enjoy the water features — including a Wild West indoor water park, an outdoor wave pool and the Hurricane extreme-tubing slide — as well as zip lining and mini golf. Adults can be pampered at the exquisite Sundara Spa nearby. Best of all, there's something here for every budget, whether you're looking for a basic hotel room or a spacious five-bedroom cabin. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 867-9453; wildernessresort.com

Branson, Missouri: Still Waters Resort

Spacious condos with giant whirlpools and stylish furnishings sparkle at this Table Rock Lake resort, but the real attraction is fun on the water. Families love the free rentals, including pedal boats, kayaks and bikes. Still Waters Resort also boasts three swimming pools, three hot tubs and a water slide. Dry off with a game of sand volleyball or a hike along one of the trails. Need a caffeine boost? Swing by the on-site coffeehouse for your daily fix. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 777-2320; stillwatersresort.com

French Lick, Indiana: French Lick Resort

A $500 million renovation transformed the century-old French Lick Resort — renowned for the ornate, 600-foot glass dome at West Baden Springs Hotel — back into a luxury destination. A free 24-hour shuttle transports resort guests between two hotels, three golf courses, two high-end spas, casino, horse stable and indoor sports complex. For a livelier scene, we recommend the French Lick Springs Hotel, home of the casino as well as family-friendly activities such as movie parties and indoor and outdoor swimming. The Victorian-opulent West Baden Springs Hotel offers upscale amenities, including a spa and fine dining at Sinclair's Restaurant. See Midwest Living's review. (888) 936-9360; frenchlick.com

Green Lake, Wisconsin: Heidel House Resort and Spa

This classic resort on the shores of Green Lake first welcomed guests in 1945 and has expanded many times since to add more lodging, a conference center, a spa and the top-notch Grey Rock restaurant. A popular location for family reunions and weddings, the Heidel House offers a variety of rooms, packages and activities. Go cruising on the 60-foot catamaran-style yacht Escapade; rent bicycles, boats or water sport equipment; or hop across the street for golfing at Tuscumbia or spa treatments at Evensong. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 444-2812; heidelhouse.com

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota: Fair Hills Resort

Become a member of the Fair Hills family at this welcoming resort near Detroit Lakes. The cabins aren't anything fancy (no fridges, microwaves or TVs) but you'll love the activities, including a nine-hole executive golf course, tennis courts, outdoor pools and fire pits on the beach. Fair Hills Resort serves three home-cooked meals each day and a special Tuesday night smorgasbord dinner before their popular Hootenanny variety show during the summer. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 323-2849; fairhillsresort.com

Galena, Illinois: Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa

With three acclaimed 18-hole courses, Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa draws large numbers of golfers, but there are plenty of other reasons to travel here. Outdoor enthusiasts can choose from horseback riding, hiking or bicycling before relaxing in the spa (pictured). Accommodations include 80 rooms in the inn as well as 300 villas and homes. On-site dining means you won't have to leave the complex, but it would be a shame to pass up the chance to browse restaurants and shops in nearby historic Galena. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 892-2269; eagleridge.com

Hayward, Wisconsin: Treeland Resorts

It's easy to see why many families consider Treeland Resorts their must-visit vacation tradition. Located 18 miles east of Hayward, this pretty resort is all about family fun with an outdoor pool, modern playground, volleyball and tennis courts, and plenty of boat access. The resort's log lodge houses a large bar and dining area with tables overlooking the lake. Enjoy dessert at the ice cream fountain, then retire to one of the 29 vacation homes and cabins or 10 motel suites for the evening. See Midwest Living's review. (715) 462-3874; treelandresorts.com

Mackinac Island, Michigan: Mission Point Resort

On the southeast end of Mackinac Island, Mission Point Resort begins where the island's main street ends. An expansive front lawn with unobstructed views of Lake Huron greets visitors and guests. Check into one of two lodges before exploring all the amenities, including an 18-hole putting course, heated swimming pool, a health club and sauna. Dine at one of the four outstanding restaurants before catching a first-run flick at the island's only movie theater. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 833-7711; missionpoint.com

Cable, Wisconsin: Garmisch USA Resort

Since it opened during the 1920s, this northern Wisconsin spot has been a destination for families, anglers and honeymooners looking for an Up North escape. Guests at Garmisch USA Resort can stay in standard hotel rooms, luxurious suites overlooking Lake Namakagon or well-appointed cabins. Aged timbers support a vaulted ceiling in the lodge, which has a gift shop, library and lounge. Savor meat and potato combinations at the lodge's restaurant (pictured). See Midwest Living's review. (800) 794-2204; garmischresort.com

Walker, Minnesota: Chase on the Lake

A $30 million renovation has transformed Chase on the Lake from a past-its-prime 1922 property to the region's premiere resort. Many of the resort's 70 rooms and 46 condo units offer stunning views of Leech Lake. Outdoorsy families love the sandy beach, pontoon rides and fishing clinics. If the weather gets bad, head indoors to the Wii room, two-lane bowling alley or on-site Aveda spa. The wild-rice walleye cakes at 502 Restaurant and Bar (pictured) are special. See Midwest Living's review. (218) 547-7777; chaseonthelake.com

Cook, Minnesota: Ludlow's Island Resort and Pehrson Lodge Resort

Bring the whole family (and some friends) to splurge on Dreamcatcher (pictured), an enchanting four-story tree house with fabulous wooded views at Ludlow's Island Resort. If the $3,700-a-week price tag is too spendy, check out the other 19 cottages, all with decks, wood-burning fireplaces and screen porches. Lots of activities for kids round out days spent fishing and swimming. See Midwest Living's review. (877) 583-5697; ludlowsresort.com

The 28 cabins at Pehrson Lodge Resort offer comfortable, quiet and clean lodging, with Minnesotan accents such as loon carvings. A wide, sandy beach promises plenty of room to lounge, and the safely buoyed-off swimming area contains an inflatable water slide. Guests can enjoy kayaks, canoes, sailboats and pedal boats at no extra charge, plus Pehrson features a solid program of kid activities like model sailboat building, fly tying and volleyball. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 543-9937; pehrsonlodge.com

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin: The Osthoff Resort

This elegant Victorian-Era resort recaptures the days when guests wore starched collars and flowing skirts while rowing boats on Elkhart Lake. Behind the classic white facade are modern amenities such as the luxurious Aspira Spa, a fitness center and an on-site culinary school. The all-suite Osthoff Resort also features indoor and outdoor pools and a small beach on the lake. We recommend booking one of the 48 newer suites. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 876-3399; osthoff.com

Shell Knob, Missouri: Stonewater Cove Resort

Guests looking for a secluded getaway in the Missouri Ozarks will enjoy the 500 acres of Stonewater Cove Resort, overlooking Table Rock Lake and surrounded by thousands of acres of National Forest. Geared to active adventurers who want luxury accommodations, the resort offers guided activities, such as ATV tours, boat rides, low ropes, zip lines, archery and tubing; guests can also canoe, kayak, hike, bike, fish and swim or enjoy spa services. After a busy day, relax in the hot tub overlooking Table Rock Lake. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 792-3956; stonewatercove.com

Crane Lake, Minnesota: Nelson's Resort

Tucked away near the west entrance of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the classic Up North Nelson's Resort offers 27 log cabins along the shores of Crane Lake. Enjoy three meals a day at the lodge (pictured), including candlelight dinners, and a pianist in the cozy dining room. After dinner, relax in the sauna or settle in for a beach bonfire where you can roast marshmallows. Lucky visitors will catch an incredible view of the northern lights. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 433-0743; nelsonsresort.com

Great Wolf Lodge

With five locations in the Midwest (Cincinnati; Kansas City, Kansas; Sandusky, Ohio; Traverse City, Michigan; and Wisconsin Dells), Great Wolf Lodge has become a favorite stop for families with kids. Each resort offers slightly different activities, but you can expect plenty of indoor water park fun with attractions like twisting four-story slides, an interactive tree house with swinging bridges, and lazy rivers. Kids also love waving their interactive wands at MagiQuest, a live-action adventure game. See Midwest Living's reviews of Great Wolf in Kansas City, Great Wolf in Traverse City, Great Wolf in Wisconsin Dells and Great Wolf in Sanduskygreatwolf.com

Nevis, Minnesota: Royal Starr Resort

Settle into one of 13 well-appointed cabins at this gem near Park Rapids. The year-round Royal Starr Resort sits along the Crow Wing chain of lakes, mean there are ample opportunities for family fun on the water. Rent kayaks, canoes and even hydro bikes on-site, or simply enjoy the stunning lake view from an Adirondack chair. Kids will love the playground and their own fishing pier. See Midwest Living's review. (800) 822-0701; royalstarrresort.com

Utica, Illinois: Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort

No sunshine? No problem. Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort, situated on 60 acres of woods close to Starved Rock State Park, offers great indoor attractions for the entire family. Kids will get a kick out of the Enchanted Forest, a busy indoor amusement park with full-size rides, including a roller coaster. They'll also love splashing around the 24,000-square-foot indoor water park while grown-ups recline in a deck chair or hit the lazy river. Head outside for miniature golf and a playground. See Midwest Living's review. (866) 399-3866; grizzlyjacksresort.com

Rhinelander, Wisconsin: Holiday Acres Resort

Tucked away on the wooded shores of Lake Thompson, Holiday Acres provides a classic North Woods resort experience. Whether you kick back at the pool, hike a nature trail or go geocaching, you'll notice the warm, relaxed feeling. Specialty guest rooms in the rustic lodge have fireplaces or whirlpools; cottages include fireplaces, screen porches and access to aluminum boats. Locals frequent the Friday night buffet and Sunday North Woods breakfast at the Three Coins Restaurant (pictured). See Midwest Living's review. (800) 261-1500; holidayacres.com

Branson, Missouri: Castle Rock Resort and Water Park

Don't let the plain exterior fool you. Inside, there's a 30,000-square-foot water park with two water slides, a lazy river and plenty of activities for the young ones. The water park may not be as elaborate as some of the Midwest's mega-resorts, but with Branson nearby, that doesn't seem to matter. We love that guest rooms include a Kiddy Cove with bunk beds and a television, giving the grown-ups a little extra quiet time. See Midwest Living's review. (888) 273-3919; castlerockbranson.com

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