Why Midwest Travel is On Our Family’s Travel Bucket List

May 30, 2018

Our family has five travel goals. This post is part of a five-part series of posts that explain more about why our family selected each of our travel bucket list goals. In this post you’ll read more about why we chose Midwest travel (in our own “backyard”) as a family travel goal.

To see our progress on our travel goals and read about many of our travel destinations, you can look here. To get more bucket list ideas for your family, you can read our list of family travel bucket list ideas.

Links to the rest of this series can be found below:

Visit All 50 States

Visit All Seven Continents

Experience As Many Zip Lines as We Can Along The Way

Why National Parks and Sweeping Vistas Are On our Family’s Travel Bucket List

 

If you want to learn more about how your family can create and reach their travel goals, you can subscribe here for my free e-book, Creating and Achieving Your Family’s Travel Bucket List:

 

Root River Trail System between Rushford and Houston, Minnesota

Why did we select this bucket list goal?

There are many reasons why our family has a goal of visiting as many attractions as possible in our home state of Minnesota, as well as around the Midwestern United States.

  • It’s our home:
    • We live in the beautiful state of Minnesota, full of lakes, woods, river valleys (including the origin of the mighty Mississippi River), and the amazing north shore of Lake Superior. There is also a lot of more urban attractions. The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have some of the best parks in the nation in terms of number, size, and beauty. There is culture, arts, food, professional sports…you name it. And I am not even mentioning the Mall of America; it’s fun, but it’s far down my list of must-do places in Minnesota. In short, there is a lot to love about our home state.
    • In addition to Minnesota, my husband is from Indiana, and we visit his family at least once a year. We are going to start being more intentional about seeing the sights that Indiana (and neighboring states) have to offer as well.
  • It’s (relatively) easy to accomplish: Since we live in the Midwest, it’s obviously easier to get to Midwest destinations via long weekends or less taxing vacations. It’s fun to see our backyard attractions  as a vacation destination once in awhile.
  • There is a lot to see and do in the Midwest: In terms of natural beauty, the Midwest may not have mountains or ocean coastline. But it is most definitely not flyover country! It has the Great Lakes, the Black Hills, the Mississippi River, beaches, lakes and much more. There are amazing cities in the Midwest…Minneapolis/St Paul, Chicago, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Des Moines, Omaha…the list goes on! In terms of attractions, I can’t even begin to name all the cool stuff in the Midwest that is family friendly and fun. While the Midwest may get a bad reputation for its cold weather, I would say that this area of the US experiences all four seasons. We get lovely springs, glorious summers, and beautiful autumns. And yes, we also get winters that are tailor made for your favorite snow-related activities.

What The Experts Have to Say

But don’t just take it from me. I asked a couple Midwest travel bloggers to chime in on why they think the Midwest is such a great place to visit. Here’s what they had to say:

Richard Christensen, Wagon Pilot Adventures: The Midwest is a patchwork quilt of American history. Cities and towns were settled at different times and for a variety of purposes, which also means different groups of people made these places their homes. While wandering through the Midwest you’ll experience festivals, foods, and traditions brought here from a thousand places. No two towns are the same and each is an adventure.

Marta, Mackinaw Road: In my (maybe slightly biased) opinion, the Midwest offers everything a traveler could ask finished off with a friendly vibe. My home state of Michigan offers the spectacular, crystal clear water and natural beauty of Northern Michigan, beach towns with quaint shops in West Michigan, and big city amenities and cultural activities afforded by Detroit. Michigan offers some of the best art/artists via small boutiques as well as larger museums, trendy restaurants and greasy spoon diners, spectacular summers, colorful falls, cozy winters, and scented springs. Michigan, like the rest of the Midwest, has all of these things and presents them all in an incredibly unassuming and welcoming manner.

 

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Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebraska

What is challenging about this bucket list goal?

There are a few challenges we have come across when working toward this travel goal.

  • Winter: The Midwest winter can be lovely and fun for outdoor activities. But it can also throw a wrench into your plans if a snow storm keeps you from safely getting to your destination. Such is life in a lot of different climates.
  • Taking it for granted: Because the Midwest is our backyard we sometimes overlook it as a travel destination in favor of places in different parts of the country or the world. Making the Midwest a travel goal will ensure we prioritize it. It will also make it feel like an accomplishment rather than a “disappointment” if we stay closer to home for a vacation.

 

Shakamak State Park from my husband’s drone, Jasonville, Indiana

What is our status on reaching this goal?

We haven’t explicitly named a “countable” goal here, like visiting all of the counties in our state. It’s simply a goal that says we want to see more of our own backyard. That said, we haven’t done nearly enough to the many amazing sights across Minnesota or the rest of the Midwest. Naming this goal (which is one of the most recent additions to our list), will hopefully help us rectify that.

 

Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota

Where do we want to go next for this goal?

Good question. The short answer is we will prioritize seeing more of our home state of Minnesota, as well as exploring more of the area around my husband’s home state of Indiana.

For Minnesota, I think we want to start by exploring more of northern Minnesota, especially the state parks along Lake Superior and the city of Duluth. We’d also like to get to Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi River, sooner rather than later.

As for Indiana, my husband grew up near Shakamak State Park. We always end up exploring there for a walk or bike ride. In addition, we want to go see some more fun sights in Indiana while we visit and even take a day trip over to Kentucky (so the kids can cross that state off their list).

 

 

 

28 Comments

  • Reply
    alison netzer
    May 31, 2018 at 11:08 am

    Sadly, I have yet to get to the mid-west. The USA really has so much to offer and is so beautiful. We get so caught up with traveling abroad, that sometimes we forget what we have in our backyards. Thank you

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 31, 2018 at 12:41 pm

      Exactly. That’s why we had to make it a goal to enjoy what’s right in front of us. We get so caught up in the big trips!

  • Reply
    Pam
    May 31, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Love your goals! As a fellow Midwesterner I think we have some amazing places to visit!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 31, 2018 at 3:49 pm

      Totally agree. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jill Robbins
    May 31, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    This is a fun goal. I need to probably be more intentional about setting family travel goals – I am all over the place!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 31, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      It really helps us focus. If you’re interested in tips for setting travel goals, you can subscribe to my newsletter to get a free e-book all about it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Susan
    May 31, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    I love this! I grew up in Wisconsin and have explored the state a ton! I suggest heading over to Door County, WI. It’s beautiful and there are some great family friendly things to do! The mid-west is amazing!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 31, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      I definitely want to get to Door County! We’ve been to a few places in WI, including the Bayfield/Apostle Islands and the Dells. WI is a lovely state!

  • Reply
    A thankful Traveler
    May 31, 2018 at 9:15 pm

    The Midwest is definitely a great place to visit and I agree it seems like when you live there the goal to visit is sometimes overlooked. Other great places to add could be International Falls and Voyagers National Park. Ely and the BWCA. Cities along the river like Redwing and Stillwater are cool too. One city on my list is New Ulm. Great info!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 31, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      New Ulm is great, too! My sister used to live in Sleepy Eye. 🙂

  • Reply
    Avery Yaktus
    June 1, 2018 at 9:56 am

    I absolutely LOVE Lake Minnetonka. I live in Wisconsin and absolutely love this list!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      June 1, 2018 at 10:54 am

      Thanks! Yes, Lake Minnetonka is pretty awesome. We also live right by Prior Lake, the 2nd largest lake in the MSP metro area, and it’s really fun as well.

  • Reply
    Phill Slater
    June 1, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Good luck. This is exactly the kind of thing I’d like to do with my family.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      June 1, 2018 at 10:54 am

      Thanks Phill! You’re welcome to subscribe to my newsletter to get my free e-book on creating and achieving family travel goals. 🙂

  • Reply
    Chelsea
    June 1, 2018 at 10:28 am

    It’s funny how we forget about our own back yard! I live in BC and there is SO much to see in the PNW, but I’m always itching to go everywhere else in the world!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      June 1, 2018 at 10:55 am

      BC is amazing! I spent a week in Vancouver as a young adult, and it was so beautiful there. But I agree, it’s hard to focus in on your own backyard sometimes.

  • Reply
    Rachel
    June 1, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    I live in Central Illinois, and I totally understand what you mean when you say that we often take the Midwest for granted! No, I don’t live on the beach or in some glorious mountain range, but there are fun things to do here too! Shawnee National Park in Southern IL is so beautiful! And there are lots of quirky small towns to visit in the Midwest too, like my hometown Casey, IL that is home to several World’s Largest attractions (mailbox, rockingchair, knitting needles, pitchfork, teeter-totter…all kinds of weird things to see!)

    • Reply
      Kristie
      June 1, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      OMG, we just went near Casey last time we were down visiting family in Indiana! Is there a place called Moonshine nearby?

  • Reply
    Elaine
    June 1, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    My husband and I were just talking about how we need to start taking day trips in Minnesota and Wisconsin now that our kids are a little older and make a list of short road trips for breaks to start going places! I’m with you on the winter problem in Minnesota, but we have had fun going on trips to ski, cross country ski or snow shoe too! OR indoor water parks 😉

    • Reply
      Kristie
      June 1, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      There is so much to see and do around here! I’m kind of kicking myself for neglecting it for so long… 🙂

  • Reply
    Belle
    June 1, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Are you pshychic? lol. I was just commenting on how I really need to start exploring the midwest and northwest. Timely post!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      June 1, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      Ha! No I’m not psychic. 🙂 The midwest is fantastic. I’m biased toward MN…seriously, the north shore of Lake Superior is amazing. Something about that area literally calls to people. I hope you get here soon!

  • Reply
    Jennifer
    June 1, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    What a wonderful set of mini trips! I am trying to to get to all 50 states! I love the midwest and have visited the midwestern states. I want to go back. So much to see and such friendly folks!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      June 1, 2018 at 8:16 pm

      Thanks! The midwest is really a special place. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kim
    June 2, 2018 at 10:44 am

    This post shows how we can travel and explore our ‘backyards’ and have rich experiences. I hope you get to see and do all that you want to in this area soon. This is a great plan.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      June 2, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      Thanks Kim! I hope we do, too. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ryan Biddulph
    June 12, 2018 at 12:39 am

    What a gorgeous region of the country Kristie! Big fan of seeing more of the US. I have only been as West as Ohio so far LOL…US wise….worldly-wise I have seen quite a bit. Rocking post.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      June 12, 2018 at 6:11 am

      Thanks, Ryan! There is so much to see in the US, and sometimes the Midwest gets overlooked, but I highly recommend you explore it!

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