The Midwest isn’t an overwhelmingly popular vacation spot, but on my 50 state road trip, I can’t exactly skip the seemingly “boring” destinations across the Midwest.
If you’re taking a cross-country RV trip, chances are you’ll be driving through some part of the Midwest. You might as well visit cool places along the journey!
Yes, I’ve driven through miles and miles and miles of cornfields. But I’ve also uncovered some fantastic places to visit.
Of course there is the Mall of America in Minneapolis, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, and Wrigley Field in Chicago. But here are a few lesser-known stops right off the highway.
They all have plenty of space to park a big rig and offer entertainment for all ages.
Carlos Creek Winery, Alexandria, MN
Alexandria is a small town right off I-94 in between Fargo and Minneapolis. It’s home to the number one winery in Minnesota, Carlos Creek Winery, which boasts the number one ranked blush wine in the country.
Let me tell you from experience, their wine is AMAZING! My favorite: Minnesota Nice Hot Dish Red, which is a sweet, red wine with the tagline drinks well with leftovers.
That’s my kind of wine.
Carlos Creek Winery doubles as a wedding venue (I may or may not have wedding crashed during my snooping around) and also offers live music, family activities and an annual Grape Stomp Festival – just like in I Love Lucy.
They give daily free tours explaining how the wine is made, fermented, bottled, and corked. Plus, they invite you into their “wine cave,” which is the cellar where their wine ages.
If you’re driving through Minnesota, it’s absolutely worth the stop.
All you need to know about Wall Drug is this: homemade donuts.
More importantly, free donuts and coffee to honeymooners. You can’t pass up an opportunity like that!
But don’t be sneaky, all coffee costs 5¢ and is monitored by a small box where you can drop in your nickel.
Wall Drug is a glorified drug store that also features a couple restaurants, an ice cream shop, tourist gifts, and huge dinosaurs.
There’s even an area where kids can mine for gold by sifting rocks with water. The store has been around for decades and has slowly grown over the years.
Wall Drug is somewhat of a historical landmark and has a hallway full of pictures and letters of how the company has changed over the years. JFK even visited once!
But most importantly, there are homemade donuts. You don’t really need another reason to visit.
Smokey Hollow Campground, Lodi, WI
If you’re traveling with children, stop at this RV park. It’s not far outside Madison, and while right off the highway it’s far enough from the noise to feel like you’re relaxing in the country.
When you turn down the drive, you’ll see a man-made lake filled with inflatable slides, trampolines, and floaties that will bring out the child in you.
I don’t like swimming because I’m generally opposed to being freezing cold and wet, but my husband forced me down this 20 foot inflatable slide with him. I flew down that slide with superman-like speed and frankly, it was awesome.
The RV park also features a restaurant, grocery store, free Wi-Fi hotspots, showers, laundry and all the essentials. But it goes above and beyond with sand volleyball, trampolines, golf cart rentals, bocce ball, and two arcades.
Plus, they have fantastic ice cream sundaes and daily specials for meals and snacks. We enjoyed 2 sundaes for $2.00. They were so big we couldn’t finish them!
If you don’t like kids running around, this might not be the place for you. But we asked for a spot “away from the noise” and didn’t have a problem.
In my travels I quickly learned that state or national parks with hook ups are the dream. You get the natural beauty, plus the benefit of air conditioning without a rumbling generator. And they usually cost less!
Cunningham Lake rests a couple miles from the state line near Council Bluffs, Iowa, just north of Omaha.
If you like the outdoors and want to fish, take the boat out, or just enjoy a short hike I’d highly recommend staying at Cunningham Lake.
The campground is peppered with large trees that provide great shade and every spot seems to have a view of the water.
If you’re like me and enjoy admiring the views a lot more than swimming in the water, it’s a great place to relax outside and read or work.
If you’re traveling through the Midwest, don’t despair. You can still find many family friendly places to park your rig and enjoy nature.
Sometimes taking a break from the more popular RVing destinations can reenergize your desire to explore.
What other locations have you enjoyed in the Midwest? I’d love to hear your suggestions.