With the holidays behind us, it’s time to start thinking about travel plans for the next school recess — spring break! It’s tempting, especially for us Midwesterners, to plan escapes to warmer climes. But there is a wealth of history, fun, and diversity right here in Middle America — for locals and visitors alike. To get you started, I’ve come up with five family Spring Break destinations in the Midwest.
Lost in Chicago’s shadow, Milwaukee could very well be the most underrated city in the Midwest. Along the lakefront is the city’s must-see: the Milwaukee Art Museum. The building itself is just as much a work of art as the 30,000 pieces it houses. If the little ones get antsy, take a quick walk over to the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, designed especially for kids 10 and under. STAY: The Brewhouse Inn and Suites, a hotel in an old brewery building!
Two of the biggest attractions are the Joslyn Art Museum and The Durham Museum. The permanent collection at Joslyn includes Monet, Pollock, and Chihuly. The Durham is housed in Omaha’s former Union Station and explores the area’s pioneer history. Kids will love the railroad theme and the old-fashioned soda shop. Spend time at Old Market, the city’s charming warehouse district, which is home to an array of shops, galleries, and restaurants. STAY: Residence Inn Omaha Downtown is within walking distance of all these attractions.
Bloomington is best known for being the home of Mall of America, a destination all on its own. With hundreds of shopping and dining options; Nickelodeon Universe theme park; American Girl; The LEGO Store; as well as the Minnesota Children’s Museum, there is something for everyone. STAY: Among the dozens of hotels within 10 minutes of Mall of America offering special packages and rates for mall visitors, Country Inn & Suites has two indoor swimming pools and offers complimentary hot breakfast to all guests.
Rosemont is located approximately 30 minutes northwest of Chicago and just a few minutes from O’Hare International Airport. MB Financial Park is the main draw here. In summer, it’s a green space where public concerts and other events are held; in winter, it becomes known as “Frozemont” with an ice skating rink and a two-story tubing hill. Year-round attractions include iFLY indoor skydiving and the Big Ten Experience, an interactive museum at the Big Ten Conference’s headquarters. Choose from the abundance of restaurants and bars like Hofbräuhaus, Park Tavern, and Kings Bowling (restaurant + bowling alley). STAY: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Chicago O’Hare Airport – Rosemont is walking distance from MB Financial Park.
Head over to the Lake Erie waterfront to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Then treat the family to a Lake Erie boat ride on the Goodtime III, which is docked right next door. Families can also go on board and tour a World War II fleet submarine, the USS Cod. STAY: Renaissance Cleveland Hotel is within walking distance of the lakefront. DON’T MISS: About a 15-minute drive from the hotel is the house from the classic movie, “A Christmas Story.” It’s open year-round and, yes, there is a leg lamp in the window.