Midwest Family Vacations: 8 Road Trip Worthy Getaways in Central USA

If happiness is a road trip, then these destinations are pure joy! Get ready to load the car, choose a route, and make lasting memories at these family friendly spots in the Midwest.

In the Midwest, more so than any other part of the country, we love a good road trip. With vehicles packed and ready for adventure, rest stops meticulously planned to include ‘the world’s biggest this’ or ‘the state’s oldest that’, and a playlist with a little bit of everything for everyone, a road trip means adventure is coming.

Because every road trip needs a destination, I scoured my own memories for the best Midwest family vacations we have experienced through the years. From toddler to teen, these eight getaways made memories – and called us back for multiple visits!

Connect with Family and the Nature of the Midwest

If the words ‘get away from it all’ describe your dream vacation destination, Foxfire deluxe cabin in Ohio’s Hocking Hills may be your perfect getaway. This 3-level cabin in the woods features 4 bedrooms, as well as a second level balcony perfect for a peaceful cup of coffee in the morning and a relaxing evening on the porch swing watching wildlife wander through the ravine below.

The rustic woodland charm continues inside the cabin, where wood hewn furnishings and beam walls compliment the modern conveniences that assure a very comfortable stay. A stone fireplace (with gas fire) in the open plan living area soars to the top of the loft, where a ‘bridge’ connects an en-suite bedroom to its sitting area.

Though the draw in this area is outdoor activity and nature, this cabin calls you back and promises you won’t hear ‘I’m bored’ from the kids. The lower level, with game room, 55″ TV, refrigerator, bedroom, and bathroom, may become the teen hangout. A sure way to get them outside? Build a fire in the nearby firepit and mention s’mores.

While there is no restaurant on site, the modern kitchen and propane grill make it easy to put together meals to enjoy indoors or out on the deck.

Hocking Hills Cabins & Resort Foxfire

8.9 Excellent (23 reviews)

A Little 'Wild West' and a Lot of Modern Comforts in the Midwest

Mount Rushmore Resort & Lodge at Palmer Gulch makes an impression as soon as you enter the grounds. A riding stable and the false fronted buildings of Turtle Town offer a nod to the area’s ‘wild west’ history and anticipation of things to come. As you enter the lodge, a two-story fireplace, created with granite from the Crazy Horse Memorial, immediately catches your eye, teasing the larger-than-life experiences you will have in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

​One of the best options at this resort is choosing how you stay. Opt for one of the lodge rooms, with fireplaces, kitchenettes, and a balcony. Or rent your own lodge or cabin for the resort experiences with private space. Palmer Gulch is a KOA Resort, so friends and family who prefer to RV and camp can join the fun.

​Amenities at this resort seem never-ending. The Fun Zone has two pools, two heated spas, a waterslide, and a splash pad. If you prefer to stay dry, you can conquer the climbing wall, shoot hoops, catch air on the jumping pillow, or putt your way through the mini golf course. Explore further with horseback riding and UTV rentals. In the evenings you can relax on a horse drawn wagon ride or settle in for movie night.

​Dining is plentiful at the resort at Palmer Gulch. The Peak Grill & Tap Room offers local flavors in an upscale cabin setting for lunch or dinner. Turtle Town serves a fast food menu featuring fried chicken, gourmet pizzas, and hand-scooped ice cream. Grapes and Grinds is available to begin your day with concoctions brewed with locally roasted coffee beans and end your day at an evening wine tasting and live music.

Lodge at Palmer Gulch

Top rated
Hill City
8.6 Excellent (1558 reviews)

It's Always the Right Time to Visit Santa in the Midwest

Santa Claus, Indiana, that is. The best place to enjoy Indiana’s resort city is Lake Rudolph Campground & Resort. You will find a variety of lodging options available, from cottages and cabins to RV rentals. These self-catering accommodations offer a comfortable ‘glamping‘ experience with full kitchen, charcoal grill, picnic table, and fire ring at all sites. Cabins and cottages also have a porch or deck – be sure to bring lawn chairs to enjoy a relaxing evening. The resort features daily planned activities that include movies, arts & crafts, and parades. Also within the park are a Santa’s SplashDown Water Park with water slides, splash pad, and cabana rentals, two playgrounds, basketball courts, a lake for paddle boating and fishing (no license required), mini golf, a game room, and nature trails. Though you won’t find full-service restaurants on the resort grounds, nearby Blitzen Kitchen serves pizza, snacks, and ice cream – perfect for those evenings you just don’t feel like cooking.

Sun Outdoors Lake Rudolph

8.5 Excellent (34 reviews)

Miles Away from Ordinary in the Midwest

Does your vacation wish list just say, “I want it all”? Then the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Michigan is the destination for you. This 900 acre resort has everything you could want for a family vacation.

In the hotel, you can choose a room or a suite. These rooms are convenient to the spa, health club, and pools. For more space, opt for a bay side or golf course condominium, just minutes from the resort via shuttle. Available in configurations from studio to three bedroom, condos include a dining area, kitchenette, living room, and private patio or balcony. Larger families and groups will love the space of a private Resort Home. With a full kitchen, fireplace, and deck, as well as full access to resort amenities, you will wish you could move in permanently.

Once you arrive at the Grand Traverse Resort you won’t need (or want) to leave! The property features four pools (two indoor, two out), four hot tubs, an indoor water playground, three championship golf courses, a massive fitness and tennis center with nine tennis courts, an entertainment center, shops, five restaurants, and a world-class spa. Truly, what more could you ask for?

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

7.8 Good (1863 reviews)

Cozy Luxury in the Midwest on the Landing

Located in the center of vibrant Branson Landing and at the foot of the historic ‘Branson Strip’, the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing is the best place to experience the excitement and history of this Missouri city in the Ozark Mountains.

Rooms feature a clean, contemporary design and include all the comforts of Hilton Hotels – plush Serenity Beds, an indoor pool, fitness center, and on-site restaurant. If you’ll be staying more than a couple days choose one of the hotel’s larger suites or condos with extra living space and large balconies. My advice? Pay a little more for the fountain view balcony room. It’s the best view of the spectacular fountain shows that take place daily, every hour from noon-9pm.

If you’re not quite sure what to see and do, the hotel’s knowledgeable concierge can offer recommendations and even assist with reservations. The first restaurant booking to make is at Big Whiskey’s, right in the hotel. A place where ‘traditions are just as important as trends’, the restaurant is known for premium hand cut steaks, big burgers, and a bar menu that is second to none.

Hilton Promenade Branson Landing

8.2 Very good (2238 reviews)

Small Town Getaway on the Midwest's National Lakeshore

Bayfield, Wisconsin has been called the ‘Best Little Town in the Midwest’, and this downtown condo is the perfect place to experience everything the area has to offer.

Though this is a great getaway for anyone, I really recommend the location for a getaway with teens and older children. This historic two bed, two bath property is located in downtown Bayfield, just blocks from Lake Superior, boutique shops, and local dining (not a restaurant chain in sight). Older kids will enjoy the freedom to explore this town on their own, and everyone will love the lake vibe and outdoor adventures available.

The house is comfortably furnished and has outdoor seating on both the front porch and rear deck, expanding your room to roam. The well appointed kitchen has all the cooking utensils, plates, dishes, and amenities you need for dining in.

Condo Dtn Bayfield Sleeps 5

9.4 Excellent (96 reviews)

The Hotel Your Kids Dream About in the Midwest

If there was ever a hotel made specifically for kids, it would have to be Great Wolf Lodge. And the Great Wolf Lodge in Minnesota, with activities and events for all ages and its terrific location near the Mall of America, is a destination the entire family can agree on.

Great Wolf Lodge is known for its massive indoor waterpark. Families can enjoy a float on the lazy river, or experience multiple water slides.

While pool experiences for toddlers, teens, and all ages in between are guaranteed to be the focus of your getaway, you may just be surprised by the other fun activities at this resort. Character appearances and an evening story time are popular with the resort’s youngest visitors. Older children will love the ‘magical’ MagiQuest adventure through the hotel and the ‘late night’ dance party. Teen approved activities include the ropes course, arcade, and bowling alley.

There is no need to leave the Lodge for meals. Eight dining options – from sit down meals to grab-and-go snacks, and morning coffee to afternoon ice cream – are available to help you power through an active stay.

This all-suite hotel has a wide variety of room configurations available, with many including bunk beds. For an extra level of fun, book a Cabin Suite which features four bunk beds in a ‘separate cabin’ area.

Great Wolf Lodge Minnesota


A Midwest Lake Getaway with Waterpark Access

Dreaming of a lake getaway with all the amenities? Enjoy Iowa‘s Lake Okoboji, and all the excitement that comes with it, in this 3 bed, 2 bath lakeview condo at Bridges Bay Resort. This condo has room for eight, as well as a washer/ dryer, making it a perfect spot for larger families.

The kitchen is fully equipped for meal prep and a roomy pantry offers plenty of space for your mealtime necessities. A gas grill and utensils are also available. Of course you don’t have to cook… You’ll find three delicious restaurants within the resort.

Bridges Bay Resort is a family favorite with plenty of water activities. The large outdoor pool features a swim-up cantina, and the indoor waterpark (open year round) includes waterslides, a lazy river, and a giant whirlpool. You’ll even find a stocked fishing pond, as well as large docks for fishing and swimming at the lake. When you’ve had your fill of watersport, enjoy the zipline, kids arcade, or a workout in the exercise facility.

Main Level Condo, A View Of The Lake & Trees

Arnolds Park
9.0 Excellent (26 reviews)