5 Midwest Family Vacations

Family vacations can be a tricky balance of finding activities that are fun for all ages and keeping a budget in check. The Midwest area of the country offer lots of options, whether you’ve got a kid that’s a history buff, a sports fanatic, a roller-coaster lover or all of the above.

St. Louis, MO

Of course there’s the famous Gateway Arch that is a spectacle just to be seen, not to mention the tram ride you can take to the top to get a bird’s eye view of the mighty Mississippi River and Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.

There’s also the St. Louis zoo (considered one of the Top Ten Zoos in the nation), the world famous Anheuser-Busch Brewery that’s open for tours, the funky City Museum crafted out of recycled materials, and Grant’s Farm which includes a petting zoo, wildlife preserve and two of the homes of President Ulysses S. Grant. Six Flags amusement park is a short drive way to offer another full day of fun.

Mount Rushmore, SD

Set amid the beautiful Black Hills National Forest, this amazing monument is a must-see. Various tours are also available- both self-guided and ranger-guided. Other nearby attractions include the Badlands National Park where amazing geologic landscapes are visible in every direction. A drive to Mount Rushmore offers several other attractions along the way: the South Dakota Air and Space Museum in Box Elder, SD, and South Dakota’s original 1880s Town that lets you step back in time to see what it really felt like to be on the wide open prairie so long ago.

Chicago, IL

The Windy City offers something for everyone: sports, shopping, theater, history, architecture music, and more. While a stroll down the Magnificent Mile, a trip to Navy Pier, the Field Museum, and a baseball game (Cubs or White Sox), are a given.

check out some of the unique tours for a whole new view of the city: the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s river cruise, The Great Chicago Fire bus tour, and Chicago for Kids: an interactive tour of the city with games and challenges along the way.

Iowa State Fair

Included in the best-selling travel book, “1000 Places to See Before You Die,” the Iowa State Fair attracts more than a million people from the world over when it sets up in mid August in America’s Heartland.

A line-up of nationally-known musicians take the stage during the fair, and the midway offers a variety of rides and games for all ages. A parade in nearby downtown Des Moines kicks off the event, and the surrounding area also offers shopping, camping, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, and Adventureland Amusement Park.

Valley Fair –Shakopee, MN

Valleyfair amusement park is the largest park in the Upper Midwest. Not only does it offer the typical amusement park specialties like roller coasters and arcade games, there’s also live entertainment and an all-new waterpark right on the grounds that’s included in the price of admission.

If your travels bring you to the area in September and October, check out the park as it transforms into Halloween Haunt and Planet Spooky- the largest spooktacular event around. Located in Shakopee, Minnesota, it’s not far from the Mall of America.