Many couples and families organise their vacations to exotic islands abroad. But if you would like to spend your days off work in internal tourism then the Midwest is the answer. Whether you prefer the beauty of an urban skyline or a rugged mountain, the Midwest offers a family vacation destination for everyone. First, take your pick from the entertainment of Branson, the sophistication of Chicago, or the wet and wild fun of the Wisconsin Dells. Then, take in the natural beauty at a Jellystone Campground and expand your family’s horizons at Mt. Rushmore.
Family Vacation Destination #1: Branson, Missouri
Branson, Missouri, is one of the top places to visit in the Midwest, with close to seven million visitors annually. Branson offers attractions and world-class entertainment for all ages, all in the gorgeous setting of the Ozark mountains. The flavour of Branson is wholesome. Shows are available for all ages, and families will appreciate live performances in any of the city’s 49 state-of-the-art theatres.
Families can enjoy a patriotic revue, listen to a cowboy poet reading, or take in one of the family-friendly variety shows. Magic and comedy share the stage with animals, acrobats, and special effects. At Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede restaurant, your children can see horses and stunt riders perform amazing tricks.
Don’t miss the Titanic Museum – the largest one of its kind!
By the first week of November, most of Branson gets into the Christmas spirit. Christmas in Branson includes plenty of holiday-themed music, sets, costumes and production numbers.
Silver Dollar City has been named the number one theme park globally by the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. This 50-acre, 1880s-themed park is set naturally into its surroundings and features more than 100 craftsmen demonstrating their skills. Festivals are going on from April through December, including a Bluegrass & BBQ Festival, National Kids’ Fest, and a Salute to the Great American Cowboy.
But wait, there’s more. You can rent a boat and water ski on beautiful Table Rock Lake or spend some quality time in nature at Big Cedar Lodge. Save money for shopping because Branson boasts many outlet centres and the famous Bass Pro sporting goods superstore.
Family Vacation Destination #2: Chicago
A Chicago vacation offers the finest in the arts and amusements. The kids’ favourite is sure to be the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. Kids can experiment with inventions, reconstruct dinosaur bones, play on a make-believe schooner. The Field Museum comes next with its full-size T-Rex and King Tut exhibits. Then, at the Museum of Science and Industry, the whole family can walk through a vast, working model of the human heart. Finally, plan a trip to the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum on a Friday for special programs.
The John G. Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium is the world’s largest indoor aquarium. You can even walk through a simulated Amazon and observe the sea life there. In addition, the Brookfield Zoo has been named one of the top ten family-friendly zoos by Child magazine.
Take in the city’s fantastic architecture from the 110-story Sears Tower, the tallest in North America. Then get down on street level around the Loop to get up close and personal with sculptures by Picasso, Miro, and Chagall, among others. If you’re lucky, you’ll also catch a street performance of a group of bucket drummers.
Do not leave the city without sampling the deep-dish pizza. Chicago style pizza is like no other. You may even get kids to eat their spinach when it’s piled on one of these culinary works of art!
Jellystone Camp Resorts: Search for parks in your area with a handy interactive tool that lets you find parks based on the amenities you want. There are also beautiful tips to help less experienced campers get into the spirit. Learn about making the most of travelling with grandkids and planning family reunions too.
Kaboose Camping Guide: Kaboose has put together an exhaustive guide for family camping. It includes games and crafts, recipes, and safety tips, along with enough checklists to keep the planner in you happy for days. Not your average camping article!
Family Vacation Destination #3: Jellystone Campground Parks
Anyone who grew up with Yogi and Boo Boo will get a massive kick out of introducing these lovable characters to their kids at a Jellystone campground park. These parks are located throughout the Midwest and have become the favourite destination for many families. In addition to camping, Jellystone parks offer waterslides, pools, and bike trails. There’s also the chance to get involved in sports like volleyball and mini-golf. In the evening, families enjoy quality time around the campfire or at the movies!
The Warrens, Wisconsin Jellystone Park is one of the finest Resort Camps in the United States, with a 50,000 sq. ft. Indoor Water Resort and different styles of lodging to suit many tastes and budgets.
Parks are franchises, independently owned and operated throughout the Midwest, so you’ll want to check out the Jellystone main website and do a little homework on which park is best for you because the amenities will vary. Midwest park locations include Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Missouri.
Yogi Bear, Cindy Bear, and Boo Boo make daily visits to campers. If you’re lucky, you may even get tapped to play Yogi or Cindy!
Family Vacation Destination #4: Wisconsin Dells
Wisconsin Dells on the Wisconsin River is known as the waterpark capital of the world. There are several outdoor and indoor waterparks to choose from, as well as more than twenty waterpark resorts!
The indoor waterparks help contribute to the year-round family fun at this Midwest vacation destination, but there’s more to the Dells. The fall colour in the Dells is spectacular. The area has plenty of campgrounds where you can experience the colourful change of season up close.
Cruise boats and the amphibious vehicles called Ducks to take you on scenic tours to see the Wisconsin River rock formations. Afterwards, go to the International Crane Foundation, a wildlife preserve where you can see all 15 living species of cranes. There’s no other spot on earth where you can see all these birds in one place.
Nearby Baraboo is home to the Circus World Museum, which boasts the world’s most extensive collection of one-of-a-kind antique circus wagons. There are 50 wagons, some in the process of restoration. You can even watch as craftsmen toil away at reviving these treasures of American history.
There are arts-a-plenty in the Dells as well. Landscape photographer H.H. Bennett is considered among the top 10 of the 19th century. He introduced the world to stop-action photography, and you can see some of it at his studio on the Dells’ boardwalk. Architecture enthusiasts can visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Seth Peterson Cottage, the only home Wright designed available for rent to the public.
For pure entertainment, check out the Tommy Bartlett Show, a water ski extravaganza that is one of the country’s longest-running live outdoor entertainment shows.